“I wasn’t told”, “I didn’t know”, You never said”…all victim statements, and all disempowering. While they may be true, there is a much stronger way to show up in our personal and professional lives than from a victim mentality.
Let’s take a closer look at victimization versus victim mentality.
First, I want to acknowledge we have all been the victim of someone else’s actions. Victimization happens in life. It sucks, but it happens. It’s an event that happens to us, but doesn’t define us. Victimization is entirely different than living life through the victim lens. I define the victim lens as a construct of a minimum of 2 players: the victim; and the perpetrator (there could be many). People with a victim mentality go through life pinning their misfortunes on other people and/or systems. It is all about blame. Many of us fall into this trap at times in our lives. We are human, afterall. This isn’t about checking the box as done, it’s about learning and practicing.
When the victim mentality is present, we unknowingly give away our personal power. We put our lives in other people’s control, and take away our ability to effect change. In contrast, stepping away from victimhood and martyrdom (yes, a sneaky form of victim) opens up lots of options. We are no longer at the mercy of the world around us. But, how on earth do we make that shift?
Recognize where victimhood is showing up. Start listening to the stories you are telling yourself. Where are you blaming others, or the system for your lack of success, a promotion, happiness, peace, etc.? Uncovering these areas is a great place to start. We all have these vulnerable spots, so you are definitely not alone.
Learn from your prior experiences, and apply that knowledge to future ones. Recently, I was caught off guard with not meeting the needs of a friend. I didn’t know she was upset, I wasn’t made aware, and I was left feeling guilty and as though I let my friend down. I later thought about the situation, and realized that I don’t have a crystal ball so feeling guilty wasn’t going to get me far. But what could I do in the future, not only for this particular relationship, but for others as well? I could ask.
Making a request or proactive offer is a great way to put ourselves back in the driver’s seat. The request could be, “I enjoyed our time together last week, and didn’t know you were upset. Would you be okay letting me know in the future when you’re upset?” This gets us out of the “we should have known” space, because honestly, how would we know? The same principle applies to offers. I personally don’t like being stuck out somewhere waiting on a ride, so I often offer to drive. I don’t drink so this is a win-win all around!
These small shifts in our thinking get us out of victim mentality, and get us back into the business of enjoying our lives. There is enough victimization in the world, let’s not add to it.
bringing it all together
The victim lens is a disempowering way to live. It puts the status of our lives in others’ hands. Instead of living through a less-than lens, recognize where you can shift your thinking, and use requests and offers to help get you there.