To some degree, every one of us has been a victim. We were either neglected by our parents, picked on at school or ripped off in a business deal later in life. When we are healthy, we can learn from those experiences, forgive and move on. But when we’re not, we tend to re-victimize ourselves over and over.
What I mean when I say re-victimize ourselves is we play the “recording” of the event again and again in our minds because it actually gives us some morbid form of comfort.
When we are somebody’s victim, we actually have a little bit of power over them. Control freaks love to play the victim, for example. If they are victims, they can control the person who hurt them because that person “owes them something now” and they can also control everybody around them by draining sympathy and attention from their community.
I doubt there’s anybody reading this blog who hasn’t done this. I certainly have. In fact, it’s difficult to even realize we are doing it. Playing the victim shows up as complaining or whining about some task we have to do, or having a really negative attitude toward life.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend define a real victim as a person who is completely and utterly powerless. That’s a tough definition, because it means you and I aren’t often victims. We almost always have some power in a situation. If we are a victim to a person, we can move away from them, even though it will cause a great deal of tension. We can quit our jobs, we can create better boundaries, there’s more often than not something we can do. We just don’t want to. We want to remain victims, because truthfully we are getting something out of the role, even if we don’t admit it.
The truth is, though, when we play the victim, we are actually making partial victims of the people around us. We are using them and manipulating them.
Not only this, but when we play the victim, we are making an excuse not to succeed and connect honestly with others. If we are victims, the rules don’t apply to us, right?
Catch yourself thinking negatively about something today and ask yourself if you’re playing the victim. Or think about somebody you haven’t forgiven and ask yourself if you aren’t milking that situation a little too much.
Not playing the victim will take a lot of practice, but it’s worthy practice. I promise you, playing the victim is holding you back.