Had I been asked a year ago if I had a victim mentality my answer would have been a resounding, NO! Yet as my wife transitioned away from focusing on the gospel of Jesus Christ, as she stopped attending church and as she influenced our children in directions that I would rather they not be influenced, I was upset. Confusion, anger and hurt are some of the emotions that I felt during that time. I could not believe that she, the one I loved and had chosen over many others would do this to ME and to MY family. I started to blame her. It was her fault the kids were now questioning the church, her fault that they did not want to participate in FHE or prayer. This was her fault, this situation I was now in, was her fault. I was also blaming myself for having failed to see this coming. I failed to hear some spiritual guidance that would have guided me around this pothole in my Strait Way.
These thoughts and emotions did not serve me nor my family. We know that the spirit does not flourish in a place of contention nor do our minds efficiently find solutions for us when they are locked in thought loops of hopelessness. The first emotion I had to deal with was that of blame. Blaming my wife and blaming myself. I realized that the emotion of blame had led me to have a victim mentality. I felt I was a victim of the circumstance that were my wife’s choices. That is why I was upset and grieving about the change in my life brought about by my wife’s decision regarding the church. I would let blame creep in to my thoughts and think this is Brooke’s fault. Remember, she was the adult in the house who had changed, right?
Blame is caused by having a victim mentality. One of the dangers of a victim mentality is that you feel hopeless. Hopelessness makes you think that there is nothing that you can do. It tells you that you are powerless. It tells you to give up and just wallow in the sorrow of negative emotions. A victim mentality tells you to stay as you are and accept what is given you. It tells you to be acted upon and never act. I decided I did not want to be a victim nor did I want to have a victim mentality. If you have experienced something similar to this I would encourage you to make a decision to not be a victim and remove blame from your game. So how do you break a victim mentality and remove it from your thoughts and emotions?
- Awareness- The biggest and most important step to breaking the victim mentality is to realize that you are feeling blame and that blame is synonymous with “playing the victim”. When you have an awareness you can start to see that each individual has agency and can act for him or herself. You are the only one who can decide how you will choose to act.
- Write down the thoughts and feelings – The second step is to write down your thoughts and emotions. They are easier, much easier to sort through and to deal with if you can see them on the paper. If you are having thought loops where you keep having the same thought and it is hard to move on then you need to put them on the paper where you can more effectively manage them.
- Change your thoughts- Changing your thoughts is actually step 3-5, but I would suggest using gratitude to start the process. Gratitude can help us fill the empty areas where we used to hold blame. I heard Tony Robbins say “Turn your expectations into appreciations”. This became my mantra as I realized that I had expectations of others (especially my wife) and that when she did not meet those expectations I was hurt and blamed her. As I changed my thoughts I turned my focus from what I expected from the world (and my wife) to what I appreciated about the world (and my wife).
- Acceptance- As you change your thoughts it is important to remember the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
- Focus on the Future not the Past – The past is the past. We need to morn and then move on to the future. Can trials bring joy? The Dalai Lama who suffered years of exile, hardship and yet remains joyful says he was taught “If there is no way to overcome the tragedy, then there is no use worrying too much.” By focusing on the future and on what you can do. This will bring hope into your life. Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no vision, the people perish”.
- Act rather than be acted upon- An old adage says ““Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” As you change your thoughts, your emotions will change. As your new emotions will drive positive actions in your life. These positive actions will bring to you the results you desire. “Be anxiously engaged in a good cause… for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.” D&C 58:27
Overcoming blame is a practice not a onetime fix, but as you work through these 6 steps, and end by acting rather than being acted upon, you will feel hope and empowerment which will enable you to leave the victim mentality, blame & hopelessness behind you. May you find acceptance and appreciation in your past and hope, joy and power in your future!
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