Do you sometimes feel like bad things keep happening to you?
…Like the world is out to get you?
…Like everyone else around you is happier / more successful / has it more together than you?
Perhaps there’s an important project you want to finish this week but keep running into setbacks, like your sick child sent home from school, water damage in your basement, or your spouse being away on back-to-back business trips.
Maybe you took a step back in your career to have a family or follow your partner abroad (or both), and now that your children are at school and don’t need you as much as they used to, you feel the weight of your sacrifice.
Possibly, you had big dreams about everything you wanted to do and be, and the prospect of realizing them is moving further and further away every day that passes.
Probably, there are changes you’d like to make in your life—your work, your relationships, your environment—but feel helpless to overcome the obstacles to greater happiness.
If any of these statements resonated with you, you could be stuck in Victim Mode. Here are some signs to look out for:
- You are constantly frustrated, annoyed, even angry at those around you in general—or some in particular😉. Everyone wants something from you, and you cannot say ‘no’ or draw the line. Instead, you say ‘yes’ and feel resentful about it.
- You feel powerless to change anything. You’re not in control of your own life. Life is happening to you; things are decided for
- You don’t discuss your emotions with anyone else. After all, you have a good, comfortable life; you shouldn’t complain.
I spent almost a decade in Victim Mode. I’m intimately familiar with the resentment, the frustration, the blame, the negativity.
And the stagnation.
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I also know why you don’t want to stay there too long.
What Victim Mode costs you
- It just doesn’t work. Expecting others to make you happy is risky, given how little control you have over their behavior. Also, staying resentful and angry doesn’t motivate you to look for ways to make changes or exit the situation that you’re unhappy with (been there, done that). Taking charge does.
- It alienates you from those around you. Feeling like the whole world is against you is a lonely place to be. And it tends to push people away.
- It takes a toll on your emotional well-being by constantly flooding you with negative emotions. Besides all the feelings mentioned above, victimhood is by definition a disempowering mindset. By making someone else responsible for your happiness, you give away your power.
- It prevents you from learning and growing. If it’s never your fault or your responsibility, you have no reason to change.
You are not a victim
Well, my friend, if that’s where you are today, I’m here to tell you that you may feel like a victim, but you are not actually a victim.
There’s much you can do to break out of this mindset and take responsibility for your life.
To be sure, bad things happen, and some important things in life are not in our control. Often, though, we do have choices and an element of control. We just need to be able to see those choices.
How to get out of Victim Mode
You’ve already made the first step, which is to acknowledge that you may be stuck in Victim Mode. Notice when you feel negative emotions, like resentment or anger, and what situations trigger them. Notice when you say ‘yes’ but really want to say ‘no.’ What would you do differently next time?
- Choose empowering beliefs
Next comes realizing that staying in that mindset is your choice—and so is getting out.
Recognizing that no one makes you feel a certain way unless you let them—and you can also decide not to—may sound simple and straightforward, but it’s a decision you need to reinforce every day. You leave behind the disempowering belief and replace it with an empowering one. You create structures around you to remind yourself of that new belief. You may journal about it when you wake up in the morning; put post-it notes around your house; reminders on your phone; or whatever else helps you live it, embody it, absorb it, repeat it. At some point, it will become second nature.
Again, I’m not saying that you should suppress negative emotions; not at all. I’m saying don’t stay there forever. There’s a time to acknowledge and learn from them; then, there’s a time to take charge and make the necessary changes.
- Practice your new beliefs
As you shift your mindset, you need to practice your new beliefs. You start by saying ‘no’ to small things and noticing how you feel about them (if you feel neutral or even relieved, that’s a good sign).
- Be kind to yourself
Lastly, practice self-compassion as you go through this process of taking charge and setting boundaries. It’s not an easy process; it takes courage and mental and emotional strength.
Here’s to empowerment!
[Feelings of victimhood can also be linked to past trauma, depression or other mental health conditions. This is not what I am referring to here. If you think you could be depressed, seek the help of a qualified professional or reach out, and I’ll help you get in touch with one.]
* If you’re new here, welcome to Breaking Free (my new blog)! Read my introductory post here with more information about what this blog is about and what you can expect going forward. *