“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” — Gautama Buddha
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."
Today many people are living with a victim mentality. They are focused on what they've been through, complaining about how unfair it was, they don't realize they are dragging the pains of the past into the present. It's almost as though they get up each day and fill a big wheelbarrow with junk from the past and bring it into the new day.
Let go of all that stuff you're collecting! Your past doesn't have to poison your future. Just because you've been through some hurt and pain, or possibly you're dreams have been shattered, that doesn't mean God doesn't have another plan. God always has a bright future awaiting. But you must understand one principal: The past is the past. You can not undo it. You can't relive that moment. But you can do something about it right now. Your attitude should be, I refuse to dwell on the negative things that have happened to me. I am not going to think about all that I've lost. I'm not going to focus on what could have been or should have been done. No, I'm going to draw the line in the sand. This is a new day, and I'm going to start moving forward, knowing that God has a bright future in store for me. If you do that, God will give you a new beginning.
You don’t need to wait for someone else to release you from your prison. You can release yourself from the chains of victimhood using these 10 steps:
1. Stop blaming others
Blaming others may provide temporary relief from our pain, but in the long run, it will lead to feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.
Here is a quick tip to help you counteract the tendency to blame others. Looking at yourself in the mirror, ask yourself (regardless of how you feel): What is my role in this situation?
In most cases, you’ll see that you have the power to choose your response. Will you let go or hold a grudge? Will you be hopeful or helpless?
2. Be compassionate to yourself
The biblical commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” is well known.
But we often focus on the first part of the commandment — presumably because we take the second part for granted.
However, there’s a quiet epidemic of self-loathing that betrays this assumption. Do you struggle with self-love because of a past moral failure or some other perceived shortcoming? Know that you’re not alone. You can challenge the voices (your own or others) that tell you that you are unworthy of your own love.
Begin by drawing on the warmth of friendship that you know exists potentially in your mind and direct it to yourself.
3. Practice gratitude
Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.
It is practically impossible to feel like a victim when you’re feeling grateful.
The spiritual sages of every tradition teach us that, even in the most difficult of circumstances, we can find things to be grateful for. Indeed, the difficulty itself can be the source of our gratitude for the invaluable lessons we can learn.
Here is a good way to consciously tap into the power of gratitude during difficult times. Ask yourself:What can I learn from this experience?
The lessons, when truly taken to heart, can be life-changing. Be grateful of the lessons that life teaches us, even the hard ones.
4. Resist self-sabotage
What is at the root of our self-sabotaging behavior? Control.
When we’re trapped in the world of victimhood, we tend to be more aware of how vulnerable we truly are. We experience a sense of “deep foreboding.” It’s the sense that disaster is always lurking around the corner. And the sensation is most intense when things are going well.
If disaster is going to come, the victim wants to control when that disaster will strike so he will not be disappointed. Therefore, he undermines his own joy and success with self-destructive behavior.
The inner saboteur is a powerful enemy, but you have the power to resist its seductive and ultimately faulty reasoning. In order for the inner saboteur to bring you down, it requires your participation.
Don’t participate. Resist the feeling that you don’t deserve joy and success. Give up the need for control and enjoy all the blessings that are before you. Accept them fully and graciously.
5. Perform acts of kindness to others
Doing kind acts for others — even simple acts — helps us get outside our own head.
When you’re feeling like a victim, you’re likely hyper-focussed on yourself, your feelings, your concerns, and your powerlessness.
When you help another person or do a random act of kindness, you’re empowering yourself but not in a manipulative or controlling way. Your power to positively impact someone will help you realize that you can also positively influence your own life.
6. Forgive and let go
Victims often hold on to feelings of bitterness and anger from past hurts. It colors their experiences in everyday life and cause them to negatively misinterpret even well-meaning gestures from others.
We resist forgiving others because of we think it means being weak, excusing the wrong, or being reconciled with the person who hurt us. It is none of these things. It doesn’t require an apology, or justice to be served. Because forgiveness is not about the perpetrator.Forgiveness is all about you.
It’s about your response to the pain inflicted on you. It’s about what you do with that pain to transform it into compassion, empathy, and understanding for the other. It’s about finding the inner strength to move beyond the pain in order to find inner peace and freedom.
7. Build self-confidence
If you’re feeling like a victim, you may struggle with low self-confidence. You may think that self-confident people are born, not made. Yes, some people are naturally more self-confident than others, but self-confidence can be taught and improved upon in any person.
The best way to do it is to emulate confident people. Dress well, hold an upright posture, speak clearly, make eye contact, and exercise. Act confident. Your internal state will begin to match your external actions.
8. Find the source of your learned helplessness
Chronic long-term victim mentality often finds it’s source in learned helplessness that was likely experienced in childhood or early adulthood.
Perhaps you were raised in an environment that fostered dependence, rather than giving you the confidence to fend for yourself. Perhaps an older sibling or spouse consistently discounted your opinions and feelings. Or perhaps you were bullied in school.
The process is painful, but taking the time to find the underlying source of your negativity will empower you with knowledge. This knowledge in turn will give you an opportunity to address the source of the pain.
If you’re struggling to get through this step, a good therapist can help.
9. Shift your mentality from that of victim to survivor
There’s no doubt that bad things happen to good people. But the key to not succumbing to victim mentality is to adopt the mentality of a survivor. In her book What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, Maxine Schnall compares the two mentalities this way:
A victim asks how long it will take to feel good — a survivor decides to feel good even if things are not so great.
A victim grinds to a halt — a survivor keeps putting one foot in front of the other.
A victim wallows in self-pity — a survivor comforts others.
A victim is jealous of someone else’s success — a survivor is inspired by it.
A victim focuses on the pain of loss — a survivor cherishes remembered joy.
A victim seeks retribution — a survivor seeks redemption.
And most of all, a victim argues with life — a survivor embraces it.
10. Challenge your perceptions of reality
Ever heard of Ockham’s Razor?
It’s a powerful principle of reasoning credited to the English philosopher and theologian William of Ockham. In short, it says:
the simplest answer or explanation is often correct.
Remember the car that won’t start? The last time that happened to me all these thoughts were swirling around in my mind:
- I must have done something to deserve this.
- The neighborhood kid messed with my car overnight.
- I’ll lose my job and I won’t be able to pay the bills.
What if the car really did just suffer a mechanical failure?
It sounds crazy, but we get caught up in these thought patterns more often than we care to admit. We frequently engage in worst-case scenario thinking.
Let go of victimhood so you can be free
This Week's Meditation:
There is no will but God's.
Meditate on this for several minutes a day. Allow various thoughts to come into your mind. If you are especially upset state:
I am at peace.
Nothing can disturb me. My will is God's.
My will and god's are one.
God wills peace for me.
Remind yourself of healing each moment. God has you in his arms always.