Break out of the victim mentality
When we have a bad experience in life, our reaction is sometimes one of despair. We think thoughts like “why did it happen to me” or “it’s not fair”. We become angry at the world and our external environment, or we become afraid, or sad. We start feeling victimized: the big, bad world is against us.
A lot of people who endure suffering, get identified with their suffering. They see the problem as an intrinsic part of them. It’s important to remember that you are not your sickness, you are not your problems and you are not your past. By identifying with them, your life experience will be one of a victim. Everything you do, will be done from that “victim” state. Your environment will see you as a “victim” and will respond to you accordingly.
For example: many people believe the more they talk about their problems, the more understanding they will get from their environment. This is true, however the danger lays in the fact that you get acknowledged as a victim from the outside environment, and unconsciously you also start to see yourself more and more as victim. This behavior is then becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy: one where you become more and more attached to your victim role.
Why did it happen to me?
It can be frustrating when we notice the same situations are repeating itself. Why do you always end up with the cheating boyfriend of why do people always start a conflict with me? We tend to experience the same patterns over and over again. It’s my believe that if we don’t change our response, the same “problems” will return.
Turn it around
What can help you a lot, is turning it around. Instead of saying:
Why did this happen to me
This is exactly the experience I needed
The experience is tailored for me, so I can learn to overcome adversity. Life is giving me the opportunity to break out of your comfort zone, to give me a new perspective or to remember what is really important.
Accept what is
Sometimes we use verbs that indicate we would like to change “what is”. We use the verbs like “would” or “should “:
- If I would have left earlier, I wouldn’t have missed my train.
- If I would have finished my high school, I would have a good job now.
- If I would be tall, girls would like me.
- If I would have more money, I would be happy.
- I should not have gotten this parking ticket.
- I should have been promoted.
- My husband should be more understanding to me.
- My parents should have raised me differently.
When we use those verbs, we are trying to do the impossible, we are trying to change reality. This form of thinking can only bring suffering. It’s not the reality that brings us suffering, but our thoughts about reality. If we accept reality as it is, we can focus on what we can do to make a difference. And we don’t lose our energy thinking about changing a reality that has already happened. So if we can accept what is, we will deal much better with any given “problem”. After accepting the reality, we can focus on dealing with a given situation.
It’s important to take ownership of your life. As an adult, you can be in full control of how you respond to life. You can take steps to work towards better conditions. For example: when you are unhappy in your job, you can:
- Change you own attitude and thinking, so you do your job with a more positive feeling.
- Have a talk with your boss to change things.
- Take evening classes to learn something new and create new opportunities for yourself.
- Search for another job (and quit your job).
By taking ownership you work step by step towards a better reality for yourself. Nobody else is going to do this for you.
To break out of a victim mentality you need a change of perception. Life is not treating you unfair; but life is bringing out the best in you. It’s about overcoming adversity, it’s about being resilient.
Whatever comes our way, humans have a tremendous capacity to overcome adversity. There are numerous examples of stories about people overcoming the most extreme conditions (for example read the story about Turia Pitt). We are much stronger than we think. When we believe in our strength, we are moving away from our victim role.
Forgiveness is a great tool to transcend the victim role. Forgiveness is not about helping the person that did something wrong to you, but it’s about helping yourself. By forgiving the wrongdoer, you release the negative emotions that are stuck in you. You create a distance between what happened to you (your story), and you. Try to be compassionate about the person that did you wrong. Instead of being angry at him or her, try to see the person as lost, they didn’t know what they were doing.
Feel your emotions
An emotion on itself on itself won’t lead to suffering. An emotion is just what it is: an emotion. When you are not afraid of it, when you surrender to the emotion, it will not harm you, it won’t attach to you. However, when you combine an emotion and a victim story, this will create suffering.
A victim story causes more unhappiness then the actual emotions that come from the event or wrongdoing. Emotions in themselves are not the enemy, it’s the story you attach to the emotions that creates suffering.
It can be scary to feel whatever you are feeling. We tend to search all kinds of escapes from reality, to not feel the intense emotions. Nowadays, there are so many possibilities for distraction, for example: watching television, drinking alcohol, gaming, (over)eating, shopping, … . If we would just “sit” with our emotions and let them come, it would help us greatly.
Being grateful that you can walk on this planet, that you can take part in the world, that you can experience life, can already cause a great shift in perception. So many variables need to be absolutely right for you to be here. Isn’t that in and of itself already wonderful?