Last week I was in Shanghai teaching coaching.
It was a fascinating window into Chinese culture.
My colleague there and I were reflecting on the West’s recent uplift in mental health issues, inter-racial tensions and gender and sexuality issues. We had a shared sense through our work that identifying with a persecuted group was becoming a badge of honour for many.
I am the child of a Holocaust survivor. But does that need to define me? Is that all that I am?
What would be the payoff for clinging to a disempowering identity? What might explain this shift towards victimhood?
One explanation is that victimhood protects us from pursuing our dreams. Remaining within the narrow confines of a disempowering identity means that we never really have to play the game of life on an equal footing. We avoid the pain of failure.
Why now? Perhaps because we have more opportunities on average than our grandparents did? It is now possible for more of us to rise beyond the socioeconomic class into which we were born. And opportunity can be scary.
As a coach, part of me empathises with the suffering that many people are currently expressing.
However another part of me wants them to stand tall in the face of adversity. To acknowledge traumas while recognising that we have the opportunity to heal, strengthen and flourish.
Can we be supportive while also challenge people to grow?