Not a lot of things are 100% true, but here are two known facts: 1) Life is not fair, and 2) People do not act right. Undoubtedly, there are going to be times in life where we feel immensely disappointed by the cards we are dealt and/or by those around us. Disappointment WILL happen. We WILL be let down in life. Sometimes we might feel and experience this overwhelmingly – perhaps, what feels like over and over again, and in turn, we begin to focus heartily upon these events. We cannot see the forest for the trees, and we begin to believe all life has to offer us is frustrating experiences and people who are out to harm us. In these instances, we have opportunity to respond. Unfortunately, sometimes in these instances our response is to take on the role of victim and adopt a victim mindset.
A state of victimhood feels like helplessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness. Everything is doom and gloom. We believe it. We manifest it. We make it true. We say, “Look at what you did to me!” We blame others for situations and outcomes. We blame others for how we feel. We blame others for how we behave.
Why might we do this? It’s simple. There’s a payoff. When we take on the role of victim, we no longer have to take responsibility. If it’s not our fault, we don’t have to change. Why? Because someone ELSE needs to change! We garner attention from those around us during our pity parties and find comfort in this familiar place. We are often rewarded with concern that provides us a sense of justification, validation, and power. Some people emotionally tend to us when we’re in this state of existence, and that feels good when we’re down!
Despite these payoffs, there are also costs involved. What is the role of victimhood costing us? The costs of victimhood are heavy. It can lead to depression and even suicide. It can involve allowing ourselves to become stuck and no longer taking risks to move forward in life. We might become co-dependent and avoid getting better. We are no longer empowering ourselves! And while we might find people initially come and tend to us, offering compassion, when we routinely take on the role of victim, people eventually begin avoiding us. In their eyes, we’ve become the Debbie Downer… the Bitter Bob. Most people can only tolerate this type of company for so long. Then guess what happens? As people depart from us, it only serves to reinforce the ‘woe is me’ feeling and victim role: “Everyone leaves me!”
Within our life experiences, we develop an interpretation. This is our, often internalized, story we make up in our heads about what has happened, why it happened, etc. We begin to view our experiences through these filters. Unfortunately, these filters are often not objective and factual. Remember, it’s our interpretation! It takes a level of consciousness to first recognize when this is happening, and then to not attach ourselves to the story. How do we know when this is happening? An example would be when we respond with a knee-jerk reaction to a situation or person. That knee-jerk reaction is us responding based upon all our life events we’ve been through up until that moment. Is our knee-jerk reaction to victimize ourselves and look for blame elsewhere?
If you find yourself relating to this blog post, it might be time to get honest with yourself. Is this you? Now what?! Consider these 4 steps:
- Recognize the payoff and cost. What are YOUR payoffs? It can vary from person to person. How is this role serving you? What do you get to avoid by taking on this role? Also, what are the negative consequences? What is it costing you? Healthy relationships? Advancing in your career? Going to that support group?
- Live a life of consciousness. When you’re feeling triggered by something and finding yourself feeling like a victim, ask yourself some questions. What am I thinking about this situation or person? Is it completely accurate? Is it absolute fact? Remember, it is our interpretation, or thoughts, that lead to our feeling – not the person or situation, itself! Do not internalize!
- Count your blessings daily. It is incredibly hard to remain within a victim mindset when you are focusing on your blessings. What is going right or well for you? Create a daily gratitude list where you identify three things that are good or positive. Some examples: I have a cozy home; I got the kids to school on time today; I have a job; I opted for the healthier choice at lunchtime; My car started; My neighbor greeted me. Need help getting started? Try the free app: Secret of Happiness.
- Accept that life is not fair, and people do not act right. Be flexible. Don’t expect perfection. Learn to forgive. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Know that people will show you who they are, and when they do… accept it! (Do not confuse acceptance with tolerance 😊). Try this mantra on for size: “He/She is showing me who they are, and I accept it and know it has nothing to do with me.”