Once a woman called Marianna came to me for a personal session. She was crying and was very emotional about how her boyfriend had treated her. With tears in her eyes, she kept repeating: “How could he do this to me? How could he humiliate me in such a way and pay more attention to this other woman instead of me?”
“Well, I understand how you feel. But let’s shift a bit your perception here.”
Sometimes we tend to think that our friends, partners, co-workers or family members are behaving in a certain way to us, because they deliberately want to hurt us. With this thinking, we place ourselves on one end of the victim-victimizer polarity.
There is a very common misconception that a person consciously wishes to act in an evil way in order to mistreat or hurt us. We believe that since the moment we were born, one way or another, someone has been doing something to us, against our will, something we do not have control over and can hurt us irreversibly. Following this thought pattern, one can feel helpless, like a leaf in the wind.
In reality, this is nothing but a story in one’s head, which reiterates the victim-victimizer pattern and makes one feel sorry for themselves. In this story, one has to be the victimizer and another the victim. Sooner or later, however, the victim becomes the victimizer and in this way one can get trapped in a vicious cycle of endless victimization.
The truth is that most people’s actions are determined by unconscious patterns, family or other social values, fears, wishes and desires. Therefore, in most cases, people act without even being aware of the consequences of their actions or the effect these actions can have on others.
“The question is: Why do you feel victimized? Is there some kind of allure to being the victim? Do you gain something out of it? Bear in mind that our life is a constant struggle for power. Can one derive power from playing the role of the victim?”
If your answer was “Yes”, you guessed correctly.
By assuming the role of the “hurt” person, you can very easily put the blame on the one who assumes for you the role of the victimizer. Thus, you make sure that you refuse any responsibility for the way you’ve reacted or how you’ve felt.
At the same time, you feel helpless. You feel sorry for yourself and in fact take up a weak role, which in the end strips you of the power to handle yourself and the situation in a way that will give you courage and self-esteem.
How can we stop victimizing ourselves?
- By realizing that it is a pattern
- By identifying the pattern the moment it manifests
- By stopping the thread of the inner dialogue in our mind that promotes the victimization line of thinking
- By assuming full responsibility not only for our actions but also for our reaction to other people’s actions
- By learning to see a situation also from the perspective of others
- By learning to forgive
- By connecting with our personal power and gaining self-esteem
- By communicating with others from a place of love and respect (which includes love and respect for ourselves)
- By being centred, strong and trusting our wisdom
Marianna realized that feeling hurt and disrespected was due to her low self-esteem. By assuming responsibility for her reaction and by learning to love and respect herself, she completely changed her view of the situation. In fact, she decided to talk to her boyfriend and hear his own point of view, which led to their relationship becoming more honest, profound and meaningful.
To conclude, if you wish to add value and meaning to your life, taking the necessary steps to break the victimization cycle can be a life-altering decision.