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  • Beatrice Zornek

Open Heart Surgery Into The Victim Mentality (Part 3)

Author's note:

I was inspired to write about the Victim Mentality because I have caught myself and others falling into this mindset more often than we'd like. This can have a profound impact on many aspects of our lives, from work and relationships, to how we feel within ourselves.


In this part, I focus only on specific tips and practical steps to take in order to break out of the Victim loop. The reason Parts 1 and 2 exist, is because I was drawn to explain the Victim mentality in detail - I believe it's important to get a profound understanding of it, so that next time we see it, we can recognise it from a mile away before it happens, not when it's already sitting comfortably in the armchair of our mind, watching the drama that's unfolding behind your eyes. I also wanted to include theoretical principles to help us get a grounding into the mechanism behind it.


If you'd like to understand how the Victim mentality unfolds and the theoretical principles behind it, start with:

Part 1 - Understanding the Victim mentality

Part 2 - Theoretical principles - The Drama Triangle and The Empowerment Triangle


How do I know if I'm in the grip of the Victim mentality?


The easiest way to recognise it is by checking whether you experience any of the following: complaining, resentment, grievances, helplessness, powerlessness, excuses.


These are some of the main symptoms of the Victim mentality.


What is our focus when we're trapped in Victim mode? And why is focus important?

"What you focus on determines how you act. In the position of Victim, you become hyper-vigilant, always anticipating the next bout of suffering" (David Emerald)

In Victim mode, our focus is on our fear and our anxiety.


We feel uncomfortable in the anxiety; the anxiety moves us to do something to reduce it.


Therefore, the anxiety in itself is a motivator to act. We can take some actions that will help shift the needle. And once the anxiety is reduced, our motivation to act is also reduced.

In Victim mode, we actually need a problem - that in turn causes anxiety - in order to get us moving.

When we act out of anxiety, involuntarily our behaviour will try to compensate for whatever we fear. If we fear our partner doesn't love us anymore, we might try to fight for them, showering them with affection and gifts. In turn, our partner might perceive us as suffocating and overbearing.


When we think our boss doesn't like us, our fear of being disliked will push us to go out of our way to please them so they do eventually start to like us. People will notice these micro-changes in our behaviour. I've been told more than once that "I'm trying too hard".

Reacting to the problem therefore reinforces the problem.

Breaking out of the Victim mentality

From Victim (helpless, powerless) we focus on problems, and therefore we can't generate empowered and creative solutions.

Empowerment and creativity are positive emotions that can only be generated when you create a shift within yourself about how you choose to perceive your situation.

And while this might seem hard to believe, shifting our perspective about our situation IS within our control.

So how do we go about creating this shift?

Why, that's another great question!

"The opposite of Victim is Creator. Whatever I hold in my mind tends to manifest itself in my life". (David Emerald)

So if the Victim focuses on problems, what does the Creator focus on?

Outcomes.

When in Victim, we know very well what we don't want. But the key is in knowing what we do want.

"When you focus on things that hold meaning and purpose, your passion just naturally flows" (David Emerald)

Emerald highlights three key differences between Victim and Creator:

1. Attention

- Victim - attention on what you don't want; problems

- Creator - what you do want; envisioned outcome

2. Intention

- Victim - get rid of, or run away from your problems

- Creator - manifest and make happen the outcomes you envision

3. Results

- Victim - results are temporary and reactive to the problem

- Creator - sustainable results over time

"It sounds too simple to be true!"

You're right. It is simple. And it's also true. Just because being in Victim feels overwhelming and unsurmountable, doesn't mean that the solution has to be equally difficult in order to break out of it. Our brains just aren't naturally wired to do this: when you're stuck in a loop, there's something that plays the story over and over. Once you change your focus, so does your life.

So if you're stuck in a Victim loop and you want to switch into Creator, get a moment with yourself in solitude, and ask yourself:

1. What do I want? What is the outcome I desire? What is my aspiration for the future?

2. How do I make these results happen? What actions do I need to take to achieve my outcome?

Once your focus and your actions are clear, everything will fall naturally into place as you'll be following your inner roadmap.

Preventive measures Okay, now that we have a better understanding of how our mind works when we fall into a victim pattern, we know how to recognise it and we know the steps to take in order to break out of it. The question now is:

Can I avoid or prevent becoming a Victim?

The good news is: YES!

As you start implementing these tools with awareness, you will also become more aware of the pattern when it starts unfolding again in the future.

How do we recognise the pattern again? Look for the symptoms: complaining, resentment, grievances, powerlessness.

When we become aware of the symptoms, chances are that we will instinctually pursue one of two paths:


1. Go ahead with the complaining, often under the guise of "it's just innocent venting!" which will give you that initial release of anxiety (but might be followed by a bigger wave later)


2. Because we're aware that complaining pulls us into Victim, we may refuse to complain, and instead hold in the negative emotions towards the person or the situation. When we bottle up negative emotions, eventually they have to resurface somehow. They might manifest through an explosion of anger, or lashing out at people we love. Other times, if we manage to hold it in with no release, it might manifest in our body, through physical or mental illness.


This sounds like a lose-lose way to handle it - you might think!

You're not wrong in thinking that.



So is there a better way to handle it?

When you become aware of the symptoms happening, instead of venting or bottling it up, here's what you can do:

1. Zoom in very closely within yourself to understand: "Okay, I am feeling X (anger, stress, frustration etc.). Don't start exploring all the reasons WHY you're feeling that way. Instead, focus on the feeling itself, just with awareness. Acknowledge that it exists. Honour it and let it be as it is.


2. What are you focusing on as you're experiencing the feeling? It's likely that your focus is on the problem, as is the Victim's predisposition.


3. Well, what is the opposite of Victim? It's Creator. So what do you need to do? Shift your focus onto the desired Outcome.


4. The outcome is always within your control (so it's not "I want this colleague to stop being a bitch"!). The outcome can either be related to the problem ("I want to do this project with my colleague successfully") or not! Often, when we think about the outcomes we desire, we realise that our energy is better spent towards other, higher objectives. And when we zoom out, into the bigger picture, we often remind ourselves of our higher goals that we want to work towards.


5. This process of zooming out also brings us a new perspective, because suddenly we realise we have been focusing on something very specific and small, that it's actually not even that important in the bigger scheme of things.


6. As you've envisioned your outcome, all you need to do is work out the key actions you will take to achieve it.


A summary of the 3 parts:

  • Victim is stuck, things feel overwhelming and it feels like there's no way out

  • Symptoms: complaining, resentment, grievances, powerlessness

  • Social dynamics - Victims invite Rescuers ("Try this" - "Yes but") or Persecutors ("It's your own fault!"). Both these dynamics reinforce our stance as a Victim.

  • Victim is motivated by anxiety; once we reduce the anxiety, our motivation fades; therefore, results are only temporary

  • The opposite of Victim is Creator

  • If in Victim the focus is on problems, in Creator the focus is on outcomes

  • We are able to recognise what triggers us to fall into Victim mode and prevent this switch from happening

  • The opposite of Persecutor is Challenger, and the opposite of Rescuer is Coach


If you'd like to understand how the Victim mentality unfolds and the theoretical principles behind it, start with:

Part 1 - Understanding the Victim mentality

Part 2 - Theoretical principles - The Drama Triangle and The Empowerment Triangle

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