“This above all, to refuse to be a victim.” ~Margaret Atwood (more…)
We have previouslyand discussed the reasons that some people choose to embrace it. We also briefly touched on the negative side effects of playing the victim.
Being a victim undermines your ability to make any change in your circumstances–it paralyzes you and makes you unable to take action on your own behalf.
When you feel powerless, you might feel like the universe is “out to get you,” and that there’s just nothing you can do to stop it. You might even call yourself a “survivor.”
But I’m here to tell you that “surviving” isn’t living, and living is pretty amazing if you give it a shot.
When you can feel powerful and in control of your own live, you can create personal change that can help you to live the life you really want.
So, how do you overcome the victim mentality?
1. Change your mind.
I know, you’ve heard it all before. But really, the very first step you must take to overcome the victim mentality is to make a choice. You have to simply DECIDE that you are not a victim.
Choose to be in control of your life. Choose to take responsibility for every single element of your life–every person, situation, thing and circumstance, even though it might feel uncomfortable at first.
2. Don’t play the blame game.
One of the reasons folks with the victim mentality often have low self-esteem is that they don’t feel like they’re responsible for their own lives. They blame other people or situations, and this nurtures that victim mentality.
This can negatively affect their relationships, their goals and ambitions and ultimately, the quality of life.
Here’s the solution: start acknowledging that you create your reality. Start small, if you need to, by just taking responsibility for every single thing that happens tomorrow.
You’ll notice an immediate difference–rather than relying on someone else to validate you, you can approve of yourself. Rather than requiring the approval of your spouse or parents or friends, you can start building your own strength from within–and before you know it, you will be able to stay positive, no matter what happens around you.
3. Be thankful for what you have.
Oprah Winfrey once said that you’ll never have what you want until you want what you have. I think that she meant that being grateful for the good things in your life will help to bring more good things to you.
So, the next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself, take a look around and find something to be grateful for–and then another thing, and another, and so on.
And once your perspective is brighter (and it will be, if you really do this little exercise), ask yourself what good could come of the situation you’re dealing with.
So, instead of asking yourself “why me?”, ask yourself what opportunity could come from the situation.
4. Let go of the past.
When someone hurts you, it’s human nature to feel like a victim. But the longer you hold on to resentments and anger, the longer you are still drawing more of that into your life.
As Catherine Ponder said, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”
So, you want to be free of the past? Forgive the people who hurt you, and forgive yourself for holding on to it for so long. Release the people, the situations and the things that have caused you pain, and you’ll find yourself freer and lighter, and moving in the right direction.
Please note that this does not mean you should live in abusive situations or try to change abusive people. You can only change yourself.
5. Don’t beat yourself up.
It can be tough to change your way of thinking, so if you find yourself slipping, don’t feel like a failure. You’re human, after all.
But when you do notice a little slip, make a concerted effort to change your mind.
Affirm to yourself that you are in control, and give yourself a little hug. It might help to come up with a particular mantra that you repeat to yourself anytime you feel victim-like–something like “I am strong and powerful and I decide what happens in my life,” maybe.
So how about you? What are your best tips for overcoming a victim mentality? Tell me in the comments!
By Amy Kessel
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
One of my coaching clients joked last week that she needed a retraining device, something like that electric collar that zaps dogs when they bark. She was noticing how challenging it is for her to stop using language that disempowers her; she’s become so comfortable with it that she hardly notices what she’s doing.
She finds herself using words that put her in the role of victim, making self-deprecating remarks and verbally closing the door on herself. And she wonders why she’s having such a hard time keeping her momentum in terms of the changes she wants to implement in her life.
This is true of so many of us. Our language has incredible power to transform our lives, and yet many of us use it to keep ourselves small and stagnant, meek and resigned. When we do this, we stay in the role of victim; a comfort zone from the past that doesn’t support growth and development.
Gandhi’s words are simple reminders of the way that we change ourselves from the inside out. Our brain believes what we say: it has to, as our words originate in the brain. We have the power to re-choose how we want to be today and how we will be tomorrow. So when we caretake our thoughts and feelings and then we work outwards from there, we create what we want. Sounds easy, right? It takes practice, but revising common language patterns goes a long way toward shaping the life you want. Here are some reminders, in case you find yourself slipping into old habits:
1. Reclaim the pronoun you own
The most basic way to use empowering language is to literally speak for yourself. Rather than using “you”, as in “You learn alot about yourself when travelling”, use “I”: “I learn alot about myself when travelling”. Take responsibility for your own experience, and share from that place of knowledge. Others will be much more engaged, and you honor yourself.
2. Drop the “should”
What a useless word! A friend of mine loves to say “Don’t should all over yourself”; it’s crude but pretty close to how I feel about it too. Shoulds are ideas that come from someplace other than ourselves and help us to engage in that unhelpful pattern of comparing ourselves to others. Rather than “I should”, spend a moment in your heart and ponder why you might want to do whatever it is you assume you should do. Replace “should” with “choose to”, “want to” or “it’s important to me to”. You go immediately from the victim (I have no choice) to empowered (I choose to do this)!
3. Exercise the power of choice
Language can be a great tool for pointing out the difference an attitude makes. At the root of my coaching training is the simple notion that We Are Always At Choice — we can choose to feel good or feel bad, to stay stuck or move on. Similarly, shifting words can radically alter your mindset and free you up to go big:
* I need to, I have to, I can’t, I must: shift instead to –> I choose to, I want to, I’m not willing to, I am responsible for, I want to learn, It’s an opportunity for me
* Also, changing thoughts and language from “You make me…” to “I feel frustrated/angry/sad when…” takes you right out of the victim mentality and back in charge of your life. That’s where you belong!
4. No more diminishing, please
There are a few small words that have incredible power and you’ll want to use wisely if at all. For example, if you use “but” after describing something wonderful, you essentially negate all that you evoked before the word “but”. Try “and” instead. If you use “just”, like “I’m just a student”, you diminish the statement’s worth. Leave out the “just”! And including “I’d like to say”, or “Maybe” before stating your opinion diminishes ownership and credibility. Make clear statements of fact or belief with confidence and enthusiasm, and watch what happens both within you and within the conversation.
Which of these language habits do you recognize in your own inner and outer dialogue, Pinkies? What does it feel like to replace the disempowering words and thoughts with those that strengthen and support you? Will you retrain your brain, and use your powerful words to help you create the change you want?
Reprinted with permission from OwningPink.com | © Copyright Owning Pink 2011