When an escalator is not just an escalator


I was at a conference today in Traverse City and the facilitator showed this video. I absolutely love it. For one, it is funny. But It also makes several points that I think are worth noting. The facilitator discussed the mentalities that many of us have: Victim vs. Creator. When a stimulus happens and disrupts our lives we are handed a choice as to how we will react. Will we view it as a victim or as a creator.

Victim Mentality

As a victim, we respond with blaming and complaining. As well, we seek excuses and often repeat behaviors we have done over and over. Our energy goes into thoughts of, “Why did this happen to me” or the one that I often think, “Why didn’t someone else plan better?” “Why didn’t they fix or maintain the escalator?”

Creator Mentality

Within the creator approach, we seek to create a new situation. We spend our energy on seeking solutions, taking action, and trying something new. Rather than focusing on why we are there, we focus on how we get out.

When I was in school studying psychology and counseling at Western Michigan University, I helped with a research project that was observing people with ADHD. We found that they could not adapt or try new things as easily. Rather than keep trying new things until something worked, they overwhelmingly would try the old way, just with more energy.

When one spends a lifetime, or even a childhood like this, it can seem like the world is against you. As well, it feels like you can never succeed. One of the first steps in the therapeutic process, is to start recognizing that “victim” mentality. For example:

Victim Language: “My kids are always fighting, on one another’s case, and I can’t ever get anything done.”

Creator Language: “I need to set time aside to get things done and I may need to ask someone for help.”

One focuses on why we got to where we are, why we took that escalator today and why we were so stupid to be on it at that time. The other looks at how to get off the escalator so as to move on with life, even if it is difficult.


Joseph R. Sanok is a licensed professional counselor and owner at Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. As well, he enjoys sailing. He has been on the only escalator in the Upper Peninsula of northern Michigan.



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