“It’s not fair!” Don’t you hate those whiny victims – always complaining about the problems in their lives? Why don’t they just get it together and do something about it! Right?
Don’t look now, but chances are that on occasion you are that whiny victim, too. The good (and bad) news is that, at times, we all are.
People feel victimized when circumstances feel out of their control, when the unfairness of life impacts getting what they want, or being treated the way they feel they should be treated. And, feeling helpless, they retreat emotionally to when they were truly helpless, back into childhood, when they really didn’t have much control over their lives. Ever notice the childish tone a person in victim mode can take? They’re awash in the feelings they had years ago when Mommy took the candy away.
When it’s our life, when it’s happening to us, our frustration kicks in, and once that emotion takes over it’s easy to fall back into the childhood feeling of “It’s not fair!” We become blind to the fact that we’ve fallen into helplessness. We lose touch with the fact that we have adult powers that can help us deal with whatever is going on. And, much of the time, we don’t even realize that we’ve made ourselves a victim.
How can we avoid becoming a victim? We can’t. Its human nature to feel sorry for ourselves occasionally. The trick is recognizing when we’ve slid into helplessness and pulling ourselves out of it.
How can we tell when we’re falling into victim mode? It’s easy – we’ve stepped into a victim role when we hear ourselves complaining without including possible resolutions. For example, “He’s so unfair! Why is he treating me like this?” is victim language, while “He’s so unfair, and I’m talking to him about it as soon as I cool down.” is not.
How can we pull ourselves out of victim mode? In the two statements above, feel the hopelessness of the first statement. And the power in the second. When we simply complain, we imply that there’s nothing we can do about the problem. However, by identifying an action to be taken we step out of victimhood and into our personal power.
What if there’s nothing we can do about the problem? Sometimes there are no solutions, something difficult to deal with has happened and there are no actions we can take. In situations like these even though we can’t change the outcomes we can change how we deal with them. By focusing on the future, on what we can impact, we can avoid hopelessness and stay connected to what’s still possible.
People who don’t make an effort to identify and correct when they’ve fallen into victim mode often end up in a destructive vicious cycle of helplessness and bitterness. We’ve all met people who are locked into the past, whose potential is derailed by events they never got over.
By making it a habit to notice when we’ve gotten stuck on our grievances and moving ourselves into action, we can stay on the track to success and growth. We become better able to cope with the current reality and more prepared for the next “unsolvable” problem that is sure to come.