Playing the Victim

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I have worked with many clients who can’t understand why their life is the way it is. It can take them a long time to come to the realization that they are responsible for creating their life by consciously or unconsciously choosing how they respond to different situations, function in relationships and move through life.

Our narrow definition of victim implies that something horrific must happen in order to be described as a victim. One must have been in a terrible accident, or suffered extreme abuse, or experienced bodily harm to be considered a victim. But there are varying degrees of victim hood and over the past twenty-five years I have had the opportunity to witness – first-hand – the infinite ways in which individuals play the victim.

It is important to remember that no one has power over you unless you give it to them. At the end of the day, no matter how scary, or painful, or uncomfortable it is – you can always walk away from a damaging situation. (Of course, some take more courage than others – a physically abusive relationship, setting boundaries with loved ones, etc.,) but you ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE.

When you feel as though life isn’t fair, or things just don’t go your way, or someone else always gets the break, take a moment to step back from the situation and observe it as objectively as possible. Examine your role in the situation. Did you set yourself up for failure? Did you really want to succeed in the first place? Did you subconsciously create obstacles and roadblocks to moving forward? Did you express to everyone around you how, “you just knew you wouldn’t get that promotion because no one ever recognizes your hard work and potential?” You are making yourself the victim in the situation by setting yourself up for failure and broadcasting to everyone that “It’s not my fault. Everything is out of my control and my life is in the hands of someone else.” Your statement feels justified because what you put out there is exactly what happened. This continues the vicious victim cycle.

Many people are so strongly attached to their identity of a victim, they don’t even realize they are a victim. Complainers, those people with a self-defeating attitude and gloomy outlook have all attached themselves to their victim hood. They have learned how to get a response – either positive or negative – that makes them feel justified, worthy, loved or accepted.

But here’s the thing – all that drama can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining to maintain. Many victims can’t fathom how much better they would feel without playing that part all the time, but I have yet to meet anyone who let go of the drama of victim hood and didn’t feel lighter as a result. Once they confront their victim behavior, examine why they felt they needed it and let it go they feel an extreme lightness and joy.

Remember, everything and everyone in your life is there by your conscious or unconscious choice and how you react to it is totally up to you.

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