A few years ago if someone had told me I was acting like a victim I would have been offended and angry. But it was probably true. I was sure I was a strong, independent woman. In some ways I was and in many ways I wasn’t.
A victim is some one who is harmed by another or an event and blames others for their feelings and actions.
A perpetrator is the person who harms.
Victims become perpetrators. Hurt people, hurt people.
When in the victim mode you feel like you have no control and what you do doesn’t matter or you can’t solve the problem.
This is the same as giving your power away or giving someone your power. You are giving them your power over your thoughts and feelings. You are abdicating your responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings.
When other people have all the control over you and your emotions this means you have to manipulate others to get what you need to be happy. See the problem here?
You may be a victim if you find yourself thinking:
(INSERT NAME) makes me so mad.
(INSERT NAME) hurt my feelings.
(INSERT NAME) is such a jerk.
(INSERT NAME) controls the money.
(INSERT NAME) won’t let me _______.
I know it feels like the truth. I know others would probably agree with you and your assessment. I know that you have lots of evidence that your thoughts about the person are TRUE.
But do you really want to be a victim give that person all this power?
There is another way of looking at this.
What if what other people say or do is completely neutral? What if your thoughts about what they say or do creates how you feel and how you show up?
What if your spouse says something about your religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and what he says has no ability to impact you without your choice?
When we are blaming others for how we feel we usually follow a pattern. Here is an example, let’s say your husband says, “I do not like how you talk about the leadership at church.”
What do you make his statement mean? (He is disrespectful.)
How do you feel? (Angry)
How to act? (Act disrespectful to him)
Is this how you want to show up? You can blame him for your reaction or you can take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings.
What one feels more powerful?
Look, things in life are not going to go according to plan. Period. Things are going to happen that you don’t like. Period. What are you going to do? Be surprised and thrown off your game? Feel cheated? Get upset ever time life acts like life?
Or you can ask – How do I want to show up with this challenge in front of me? What kind of person do I want to be in this situation?
Which one feels more powerful?
Recognizing when I am in the victim mode has been a game changer. When I take responsibility for my thoughts and emotions it means I have the ability to change them. It means I don’t have to feel terrible when others do not act how I think they should. It means, I don’t have to try to get someone else to change (which NEVER works anyway).
This helped A TON with my faith transition. I would often find myself blaming the church, patriarchy, and/or my husband for various grievances. In many instances, I was right. They had done something wrong. However, dwelling in this pain or their wrongness did not help me to make thoughtful decisions or take impactful action. Deliberately choosing empowering thoughts and taking responsibility helped me come to an emotionally stable place where I could then make changes from a place of clarity and not anger or emotionally reactivity. I realized that is usually when I become the perpetrator, meaning I I react and lash out in anger or frustration because I feel powerless. I was able to break the victim cycle by owning my own role in the process.