Hey you – stop being a victim and start getting what you deserve!

Before I get started, I’d like to explain what a victim complex is and isn’t. A victim complex is NOT acknowledging that sometimes and in some things you are limited because of depression or illness or disability. It’s not acknowledging that some systems are unfair, or that some prejudices exist or that sometimes life can deal you a crappy hand. It’s not acknowledging that to succeed as a society we need systems that take care of the more vulnerable members, we need systems that give those born without advantages of wealth and privilege a real chance at reaching their full potential.

Everybody in the world is entitled to the occasional rant or feeling of injustice – that’s just self expression. But when  feeling hard done by goes from a justified once-in-a-while feeling to a constant, all-encompassing issue then that’s when a victim complex comes into play.

We all know someone with a victim complex. A person with a victim complex never says sorry, because nothing is ever their fault. A person with a victim complex is so terrified of being wrong that they will systematically lay blame for every issue they ever face at the feet of everyone but themselves.

A person with a victim complex is limiting their potential for happiness – because they are handing over all of their power to everyone else, laying themselves flat on the ground and saying that they can never make positive changes in their life, because nothing that happens to them is their responsibility.

I know this, because that person used to be me.

brickwall

Hitting life’s brick wall? You may be suffering from a victim complex!

What does taking responsibility mean?

Tell yourself: “I don’t blame myself and I’m not angry with myself because of this situation, but I can see how my actions have led me here and will learn for next time.”

For some reason, our culture encourages the blame game. The minute anything goes wrong in the world, we need a culprit. If there’s an accident, the media is quick to search for who’s to blame before there’s even talk of an investigation.

“Blame” is a scary word. It makes us feel shame, which is even scarier. We’ve messed up and we need to flog ourselves for it. How many times have you had an argument and found it easier to shift the blame for the whole dynamic onto the other person, rather than acknowledge your own part in it?

The key to taking responsibility is in taking blame out of the equation entirely and realising that responsibility and fault are two entirely different things.

Every choice you make leads you to the situation you’re in, for better or for worse. Blaming yourself won’t help you to move forward – taking responsibility for your choices will.

Tell yourself: “I don’t blame myself and I’m not angry with myself because of this situation, but I can see how my actions have led me here and will learn for next time.”

Sure, there are things you can’t control, you can’t control illness, disease and accidents, you can’t control how others behave and react, you can’t control the economy, you can’t predict the future.

However, you can control how you respond to all of those factors. Do you fall apart in the face of adversity? And when you make a mistake, do you learn from it, or do you blame someone else for the outcome and carry on falling into the same pattern again and again?

dontbeavictim

Why is taking responsibility important?

Blaming things around you for your disappointments is like handing over all the power in your life to some external force. You’re saying that your happiness, your success and your self worth are all dependent on things that you can’t control going right for you.

Taking responsibility isn’t something you do to appease others, it’s not some terrible Thatcherist policy of leaving our vulnerable behind to fend for themselves or forgetting collective care and welfare – it’s the biggest gift you can ever give yourself. It’s conducting your own mini investigation and figuring out how your actions have led you to the place you are today and to who you are as a person. It’s how you grow.

When you make a mistake, taking responsibility is important because it means you won’t repeat it. Instead of shaming yourself and falling into a deep depression to punish yourself for your mistake, gently tell yourself that you realise you didn’t take the best path for yourself and you’ve learned for next time.

When life falls apart around you, taking responsibility is important because it means you can adapt to any situation. When my dad died in a prolonged and very traumatic illness and I was his primary carer, it was so tempting to let that knock ruin my whole life. I could have let my world fall apart and blamed it on his death for the rest of my life. I could have always looked back on the day he died and told myself that it was the moment that ruined my chance at a happy, normal adulthood. Or I could take stock, give myself time to grieve and come back with a renewed determination to make something of myself. Because taking responsibility means that no matter what your circumstances, you know you can make life better for yourself again.

Let’s look at one scenario and how two different people might react:

Two people find out at the same time that they have a condition that makes them fatigued all the time (I chose this in particular because I personally have such a condition so feel I am qualified to talk about it).

Person A decides that because of their condition, they can never have any success or happiness. They will constantly tell you they’re too tired, that they have an illness or disability that prevents them from fully living and use it as an excuse not to try. Every time they fall into difficulty, they will blame their condition, they will become depressed and they will never put their full effort into anything because they know if it doesn’t work out, they can blame their illness.

Person B acknowledges that their condition may rule them out of some things but starts to look at alternatives. They make changes to their diet and lifestyle that help them to use the energy they can. They rest when they need to and they work as hard as they can when they have enough energy. They set themselves realistic goals and targets and they don’t let their condition get in the way of their dreams and success.

Both people had a knockback, both people had the potential to hand over their life to some external factor – one did, and one didn’t.

Blaming things around you for your disappointments is like handing over all the power in your life to some external force. You’re saying that your happiness, your success and your self worth are all dependent on things that you can’t control going right for you. I can’t stress this enough – responsibility = power, and when you shift the responsibility, you shift all the power that comes with it, along with the power to turn things around for yourself.

dontbeavictim2

Where to start?

Changing how you think is never simple. It’s not like flicking a switch and suddenly adopting a whole new attitude, like a crash diet the results never last. It’s about being aware of it, catching yourself doing it and being kind to yourself.

If you have a victim complex, chances are it’s a lifelong pattern. It isn’t an easy journey, and I would suggest counselling to help you through it, but recognising your pattern is the first (and hardest) step – because the first thing your victim complex will tell you is that everything you’re reading right now (if you’ve read this far at all) is all smug, preachy rubbish spouted by someone who doesn’t know how hard it is for you.

Your victim complex is your defence mechanism, the one thing stopping you from taking a scary look at yourself. It teaches you that others are wrong, you are right and blinds you to possibilities for growth. If you have a victim complex, the chances are you didn’t get past the first sentence of this article. If you’re still reading, then you really are ready to take back the power in your life.

So first, to assuage that nagging voice, let me tell you – I do know how hard it is for you. I know every kind of drama life can throw at you, from the serious illness and death of loved ones to a condition largely beyond my control taking away things I took for granted would happen. I know break ups, I know friendships disintegrating, I know discouraging teachers, I know unhappy moments in childhood, I know bullying, I know low self esteem – I know it all, I’ve been there.

Start by listening to the way you talk. I bet if some people could hear how often they say “if only X hadn’t happened to me, I would be doing Y” instead of thinking “well, Y may out of the picture, I’m going to focus on Z instead” or “the route to Y isn’t going to be as easy as I thought, I need a new plan” they would quickly start to catch themselves doing so and want to change the way they think.

Changing how you think is never simple. It’s not like flicking a switch and suddenly adopting a whole new attitude, like a crash diet the results never last. It’s about being aware of it, catching yourself doing it and being kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about your mistakes, don’t torture yourself, but when faced with a difficult situation think: “how can I best build myself up with the tools that I have?”

Losing the victim complex is one of the most empowering things you can do – it means that even if your plans change, you are ultimately in control of your reactions, your feelings and (in the end) your destiny. How will you take your first step?

2 Comments on Hey you – stop being a victim and start getting what you deserve!

  1. ellie
    December 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm (4 years ago)

    Loved your article. It have read this at the right time. Thank you x

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






Comment *