There are two languages I speak fluently: English and victimese. I seriously feel victimized in L.A. traffic or when Starbucks runs out of my Strawberry Acai Refresher mix. It's a real self-centered way to live. Things don't JUST happen... they happen to ME! I'm the victim of life's ill fortunes.
I've had a black belt in victimhood since I was little. I was a victim of a violent crime as well as my share of other trauma, so being a perpetual victim became my perspective on the world as well as my coping mechanism to survive pain and fear. Playing the victim is one of the most damaging character defects you can have because it affects your relationships, ambitions and success. You can't move forward in life!
I've really been working hard on getting rid of my victim mentality since getting sober 10 years ago and although I've improved greatly I still have a little way to go. I discovered that I had some work to do when this woman who mirrored who I was came into my life. She is the epitome of a victim, and it got under my skin so badly so much so that I planned to move to Iceland to get away from her (true story).
She loved getting attention for her childhood trauma story, she never took responsibility for her life, she needed constant validation from others to feel good about herself and everyone but her was to blame for anything that went wrong. Things were always going wrong with her, so much so that she was in a constant state of dramatic distress.
But as we say in the recovery, "if you spot it, you got it." Another thing we say in the recovery is that if your reaction to a situation is hysterical (over the top) then there is something historical (ones past) that you need to look at. My reaction to her victim mentality was a bit much. I literally couldn't talk or even make eye contact with her. It was obvious that I had to once and for all annihilate this victim mentality.
So, I brought out the big guns and asked my husband, a life coach, for his top seven ways to get out playing the victim:
1. Write a goodbye letter to your victim mentality -- That's right; write an old fashioned break up letter. You know, like the one you wrote your high school boyfriend who cheated on you right before prom? Okay maybe that's my story but you get the idea. Tell your inner victim to hit the road.
2. Practice Gratitude -- One easy way to get out of self-pity and playing the victim is to change your perspective like you would change a pair of undies. The victim mentality is all about lack while gratitude is all about abundance. Look at what you do have rather than what you don't.
3. Blessings -- Struggles, challenges or perceived set backs are all just blessings in disguise. Pain is the touchstone of all growth. Instead of being victimized by the struggles, look for the hidden opportunities and lessons.
4. Forgiveness -- Not forgiving someone or holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Forgive others for the wrongs committed against you. You can drop that heavy victim cloak of resentment at the feet of your higher power and you will be light as a feather afterwards.
5. Service -- Often victims are self-centered people focused on their pain and their struggles. The fastest and easiest way to get out of that is to be of service to someone else. Go volunteer at a homeless shelter or for foster kids. Whatever will get you out of yourself to see how great you have it.
6. Live in the Present -- There are two places that I like to live... the past and the future. If I'm in the past, I'm in regret and if I'm in the future, I'm in fear and anxiety. The present is where it's at! Victims tend to live in the past going over and over the trauma in their heads so they won't be victims in the future. They're missing out on the beauty, which is the right now.
7. Stand up for Yourself -- Know Your Worth -- You have a voice, use it. If something is bothering you or there are people being less than kind to you then say something. Really work on your self worth. To quote my girl, Lady Gaga, "I'm beautiful in my way, 'Cause God makes no mistakes... Don't hide yourself in regret... Just love yourself and you're set."