“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”
~ Maya Angelou
We are all vulnerable to setbacks, disappointments and hurts. That’s part of the uncertainty of life. How you respond to these setbacks determine how satisfied you are with your life.
You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control your response to them.
In the hustle and bustle of life it’s easy to let setbacks pile up to the point where they leave you feeling beaten and broken. Instead of standing back up when you are knocked down, you remain lying down wallowing in your defeat.
What does this look like in your behavior? It can take a number of forms:
Most things have a negative tone to them. You can even get to the point where you feel life isn’t on your side.
- You ask yourself “why” a lot. Why does everything in my life have to be so hard? Why can’t everyone just leave me alone? Why do others constantly make demands on me? Why doesn’t anyone understand me?
- You mull over things – a lot. The psychological term for this is ruminate. Picture a cow chewing cud for hours. This is what goes on in your head when your are thinking about your life. The script runs over and over: nothing ever works out for me, I never seem to get (fill in the blank), why bother since I always (fill in the blank).
- You don’t think very highly of yourself. You don’t need others to put you down because you are your worst critic. You feel like damaged goods, which means you don’t deserve the best.
- Your first emotion is anger and you are often resentful. An example of this may be: You resent the fact that your best friend got a $7,000 bonus at work. She already has nice things. As usual, these things always seem to happen to others and not you.
Do any of these sound familiar? Sometimes you can slip into the victim mindset only in certain areas of your life. It can be subtle, but persuasive enough to hold you back or lower your self-esteem. Here are some solutions to break out of this way of thinking.
- Build your confidence by creating small achievable goals. Think of this like starting with a 10 piece baby puzzle and moving up to the 1000 piece mega puzzle. If you have convinced yourself that good things never happen to you, you have to retrain your mind to see that you can win at something even if it’s something small.
Then you have to give yourself time to reflect (or ruminate) on these small accomplishments with the intention to move on to bigger accomplishments.
- Turn your attention to giving to others. Victimization breeds neediness. The more needy you are, the more opportunity to be disappointed when all of your needs are not met. Adopt the approach of getting by giving first.
When you focus on meeting other’s needs, you can rise above the victim mode by being someone else’s hero. Additionally, the satisfaction you gain from showing love to others gives you a reason to love yourself. When you love yourself, you build a strong hedge of protection around yourself to guard against future hurts.
- Make a gratitude list. When you are in victim mode, you are focused on what you don’t have. You lose sight of the things you do have. Change your perspective to spend more time counting your blessings. By writing these things down, you can easily remind yourself of these blessings when you slip back into feeling sorry for yourself.
- Get closure on your past hurts. This may involve forgiving someone. It may involve forgiving yourself. If you blame yourself for continuing to make the same mistakes or trusting the wrong people etc., you need to do the following:
- Understand what draws you to these bad decisions
- Press the reset button
- Trust that you can move on and make better decisions in the future
5. Take ownership for your life. No one can make you feel a certain way without you allowing it.
6. Get ready to wear your big girl panties. It takes courage to take risks and venture into unfamiliar territory. As a victimyou get others to come to your rescue. As a survivoryou have to stand on your own and face the possibility of more setbacks.
If you need more motivation, movies are a great way to visualize how others have overcome difficulties. Yes, they are fictional stories, but even fiction is inspired by real life situations.
Here are ten films with great stories of people overcoming adversity.
Pay It Forward
Life of Pi
The Blind Side
Eat, Pray, Love
The Shawshank Redemption
On Golden Pond
Stand and Deliver
Pursuit of Happiness
Searching for Bobbie Fischer
Don’t let past hurts define you. Identify how you may be wallowing in the victim mode and how to put it behind you.
You have the opportunity to live a beautiful life. The power to throw off the victim persona is in your hands. Doing so will be an ongoing process that requires daily effort, especially at first. But the rewards will be great.
Identify one way you may be wallowing in victim mode. Do you host many pity parties? Do you have a “why bother?” mindset because you’ve failed at something too many times? Are others always having to give you a pep talk? Next, choose one of the six solutions that apply to your situation and implement it.