Episode 17: Victims and Villains
Hello and welcome! So glad you’re here with me today. I hope you had a fantastic Halloween yesterday. We all dressed up this year. I love seeing all the different costumes and how elaborate some people get in making or adding to their attire. It’s so fun.
I think the best part of it all is in the choosing process right? When you’re thinking of who or what you’re going to be? Are you going to dress up as the hero or the villain? It’s fun. I love this time of year. I’m not into scary or gross Halloween but I love seeing book characters come to life and it’s just fun.
Speaking of book characters. We read the Lord of the Rings over the summer. I had never read it before and the kids had been wanting to read it for a while so we finally buckled down and conquered that series and my boys loved it. My girls, nah…but my youngest son really latched Frodo and Sam. It was a toss up for weeks trying to decide who he wanted to be, either Frodo or Sam. Which was so cute. He loved Sam for being such a good friend and stalwart rock. He went with Frodo I think mostly because he wanted to wear the ring. He’s super short so he made a good hobbit.
When you stop and think about books you love or movies that you enjoy watching there’s always some kind of tension, some kind of obstacle, right? And it’s that challenge and struggle that makes for a great story, that keeps you riveted and engaged, otherwise it’s kind of boring, right?
Think about that tension for a moment. It’s a tension between two forces, right? Either good and bad, or trying to overcome the seemingly impossible. It really comes down to victims and villains. What makes this victim/villain dynamic just so?
Something that isn’t fair, right? Something that doesn’t feel right, an injustice has occurred and it needs to be made right. We want the villain to be brought to justice or the tension to resolve so the main character (and we the readers/watchers) can feel better too, right?
It’s easy to point out in fiction, while watching a movie or TV show who is the victim and who is the villain but it’s much more difficult to point out in our own lives. Today, I’m going to walk you through the victim mindset, how to tell if you’re in it, and why it’s a problem. I’m also not just going to leave you there, I’m going to help you out by offering some tools to help you when you find yourself taking on that victim role.
I didn’t realize, like most of us, that I was in victim role for a lot of my life. I would never have categorized myself as that ever. I was strong, independent, and adept to handling things in my life – or so I thought. But it’s sneaky and you may not even know just how far into victim mode you’re in until you learn and gain some awareness about it.
Here are ten tale-tale signs you’re in victim mode:
1.) BLAME – you blame something on someone else – ex: My kids love to blame their siblings about why things didn’t get done or why they acted the way they did. Like, I only yelled at him because HE pushed me.
It’s sneaky here because they feel very justified in their response. HE MADE them yell, right? If HE hadn’t done that then everything would be just fine. It’s HIS fault.
2.) Another one is the “NEVER” mindset – I NEVER get what I want. You NEVER listen to me. I’ll NEVER be able to go or do or become what I want. It’s easy to go here. So watch for that sneaky word – NEVER.
3.) When you’re feeling upset or offended when others don’t give you sympathy or comfort when you think you need or want it. When we’re upset about something we want to reach out to others to “vent” and we expect them to validate us, we want to be heard, and comforted. We want them join with you so you can feel better, like to know you’re not alone in your misery But woe to the person – usually your coach – that doesn’t buy into your story and then you’ve entered victim mode.
4.) Another is thinking that OTHER’S ARE PURPOSEFULLY OUT TO GET YOU. This is a hard one. When you really believe that other people are doing something deliberately to get to you, you’re constantly on the look out for evidence that, SEE! Look at what they did! Did you SEE the way she looked at me? Or they purposely didn’t invite or include me.
5.) Another is that you’re indulging in PITY-PARTIES. Woe to me. Life is unfair. This is wrong. It shouldn’t have happened. They shouldn’t have treated me like that. Why is always me? WHY?
6.) Another one is believing that things are out of your control. That life has given you too much or too hard of a task, it’s impossible. You’re not equipped to handle what is happening. You believe you’re not strong enough, capable, or mentally able to cope with the circumstances in your life. It’s just too hard. I can’t do it.
7.) Complaining of any kind. Yup…any kind. When you complain you’re part of the “Ain’t it awful?” Club as Jack Canfield says. Think about this, have you complained today? How much have you complained? Did you join the, “ain’t It awful club?” I’ve been a participant many times too. It’s good to be aware of this and just see when you’re putting yourself in the victim role.
8.) Excuses – Here’s another sneaky one. Instead of buckling down and finding a way to get things done, you find excuses. “I didn’t have time.” – “Things are really busy.” – “She did _________ and I couldn’t finish.” – Everyone else is the problem and that’s why you couldn’t do whatever it was you needed to do. It’s obviously not your fault, right?
I actually wrote an entire blog post about excustitis a term I learned from David Schwartz
So if you want more about excuses – go read that.
9.) You’re judgmental, critical, pessimistic, or just plain negative. Classic victim mentality here and super sneaky too. When you’re looking out at others and judging them – the way they live, talk, what they believe, etc because you don’t agree, it’s not what you think is right or what you would do, you’ve entered victim mentality.
10.) You’re defensive. This is a pretty big one. When others come at us we quickly put up our guard. We feel like we have to retaliate in words or actions. We have to MAKE them understand, to see your point of view because you’re right, obviously and they’re wrong. This comes up even in well intended times too. When people say things to us or accuse us we’re quick to be defensive. Like, “No, that’s not what I meant at all!” Then we go into details and enter a needy state of NEEDING them to understand so you can feel better.
11.) You struggle to listen to constructive criticism. Even when loved ones, friends, family give you honest advice or feedback from a genuine place of care and concern, you quickly get offended, defensive, hurt, and feel attacked even. Then if you’re like most people you’ll stew over what they said and jump right into number 12
12.) You’re highly critical and mean to yourself. You have a inner voice that is negative, judgmental, and is super quick to point out all the things you’re doing wrong or could do better. Then it lists off several other people that have it together or that are “better” than you. Or when people offer compliments to you inside that inner voice is like, no…if they only the real you…and you counter it with something negative and demeaning in your mind. Ever been there? Not a fun place, right?
There’s a lot more actually but these give us enough to run on for now. Did you see yourself in any of those? All of them at different times? I do!
So here’s the thing, I’m not telling you all this so you’ll beat yourself up or feel guilt or shame like you shouldn’t feel or think these things. That’s not my intent or purpose. I’m all about awareness and helping you see what’s happening in your life and most especially in your mind so you can look at it and then deliberately decide what you want to keep and what you’d like to go so you can keep your life in alignment with your best self.
What’s really fascinating is that when we beat ourselves up – complaining, blaming ourselves, speaking negatively to ourselves we become victims to our victimhood. Whenever there is a victim, for sure there is also a villain. Think about this for a second. Let it sink in. Every time you’re a victim or you fall into one of these categories there is always a villain. It can be a person, place, or thing even.
Being in victim mode isn’t anything to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. We ALL, every single person on the planet falls into victim mentality. It’s part of our humanity and raw nature. The goal isn’t to never fall into victim mode – it’s to be aware of yourself when you do, to learn something about yourself, and then to deliberately decide what you want to do next. What you’re going to use your agency to do, think, or feel.
So why is it a problem to be a victim anyway? Why is it a problem to think, “This isn’t fair?!” The problem is that you create problems that don’t have to be problems in the first place. We create problems. We start to feel an injustice has occurred. Something is wrong, you have been wronged and it’s just not fair. When you think this way or any of the dirty dozen mentioned earlier you’ve lost your power. You’ve lost any leverage or hope of changing your situation, of seeing it in a different light.
I homeschool my kids and they each have their own supplemental online classes. We have a rule in our house that you can’t be online without a parent present which makes it tricky when there are errands to run or appointments that we have to go to. So a common complaint is:
I can’t do what I need to do because you guys won’t let me on the computer while you’re gone.
Or something even along the lines of, “this is a waste of my time when I have to go out for sibling things and I can’t be home doing what I want/need to be doing.”
To them this is a legitimate complaint, it’s valid and they feel powerless to it. It’s not fair to them. This is a problem and they take on the victim role. So the complaints are made, the huffs are audible, and the facial expressions are exaggerated because they really believe they are powerless to the circumstance.
They have no control over what’s happening and sometimes even they feel like the universe, their parents, their family, siblings, teachers, etc. are purposely out to get them.
But thinking this way IS 100% the only thing that is standing in their way to finding a solution or a different perspective.
See, when you blame, are negative, think something isn’t fair you’re too focused on that line of thinking. You’ve given your brain a directive of what to look for. Look for what’s wrong. Look for evidence that this is a negative situation. Look for more details to back up my thoughts that this really isn’t right and it needs to be fixed. So that’s what your using your brain energy to do. You’re looking for all those problems.
But…you’re missing a beautiful opportunity to look for creative solutions. Instead of being solution focused, you’re problem focused and you’re stuck.
Shannon L. Alder said,
“You’re only a victim to the degree of what your perception allows.”
You’re only a victim as much as you think of yourself as a victim. What are you complaining about? When you stop perceiving that things are a problem, they stop being a problem.
I have to tell you this funny example. My sister had these two pugs. Super chunky, snorting pugs. They’re so cute and goofy. I went over to visit one afternoon and we walked into her backyard where the kids were playing and the pugs were in this baby gate. You know the kind that wraps around so you can contain and corral the baby? So they were in their little corral except it wasn’t a circle. It was more like a half moon. She didn’t wrap it all the way around. Yet, these two dogs barked and whined and looked at everyone else playing and wandering free when they stayed there stuck, and feeling frustrated.
So I asked my sister, like, why don’t they just get out? All they have to do is turn around and they’ll see it’s not closed. It’s not even like a tiny opening. It’s like a half moon opening. They could easily just walk out. She said, because they’re too focused on believing they’re stuck…okay, actually she said, “They’re not very bright.” But I’m going to say it’s because, they’re believing they’re stuck. They’re too problem focused. Oh no, there’s a gate. We can’t get out. We can’t go forward. We’re stuck. So they stay stuck when literally two steps back would be freedom.
Are you stuck in your half moon pen? Are the solutions so close to you and you just can’t see them because you’re too focused on the injustices of your circumstance?
Nanette Mathews says, “You relinquish your power when you blame others for situations in your life. The blame does not change the situation and only keeps you in a victim mentality. Accept that the situation occurred and find a way to transcend it and you will reclaim your power and become the victor.”
Here’s a common example that I hear when working with my clients on their family relationships. They feel hurt and wronged in some way because of the actions of their family. Maybe they’re not as close to their siblings because their siblings are contentious, or in some cases just not around. They feel wronged because family should want to spend time with one another and they’re not. So they feel powerless to that relationship. They’re a victim and they complain about them to others, to themselves in the heads.
Negativity, blaming, complaining…victim mode for sure. Problem focused instead of solutions focused. Thinking this way is going to keep them stuck. They’ve relinquished their power over to these family members and the situation isn’t changing.
Victim mode isn’t a fun place. Seth Smith once said, “Abandon the idea that you will forever be the victim of the things that have happened to you. Choose to be a victor.”
You have agency. You can choose. You can choose to think a different way.
Here’s something I want you to think about, When you take on the victim role who is your villain? If you are the victim, there HAS to be a villain.
The sibling? The teacher? Your family members? Your mom? Your inlaws? The members at church? Your ministering sister that doesn’t come visit you?
Maybe your villain is the alarm clock that didn’t go off when you needed it to and now you’re late so you blame your lateness on the alarm clock. You’ve villainized a piece of electronics. I blamed tech this week. Technology was my villain.
Who or what are you making your villain?
Why are you giving them/it so much power?
It doesn’t always have to be outside of us too. We can be and are a lot of the time actually our own villain. We take on both roles as victim and villain. We get mad at ourselves for thinking a certain way or doing something, saying something. Ah! Why did I say that?! and then you start blaming, complaining, and bashing yourself playing both roles – the victim and the villain. So watch yourself when you feel that coming up for you.
Ask yourself: Who is your villain?
Awareness is the first step, right? We have to realize we’re in victim mode first before you change or do anything. You have to take responsibility first and recognize who or what you’re giving your power over to.
Who are you in bondage to?
Then you start asking questions. A lot of questions.
Questions and Curiosity are two huge key players in making the transition from victim to victorious. They’re are so good because it’s getting you away from your original ain’t it awful state and into a possibilities that things might be different. It offers you a new perspective.
Ask yourself questions but make sure you’re asking good questions and not dead end questions. What I mean by that is asking good questions will give you good answers.
For example: When you ask yourself the question, Why did I just say that stupid thing?
Your amazing brain is going to look for an answer to that. It’s going to give you an answer. Do you really want to hear what that answer is? I wouldn’t.
It might say something back like, “Because you’re dumb.”
Or questions like, “Why aren’t they calling me?” The answers will be something like, “They don’t like you. They y’re doing it on purpose because they don’t really care about you anyway.”
We know our feelings come from our thoughts. When your brain is offering you thoughts like that, how do you think you’re going to feel? Terrible right? Even more terrible than when you were first entertaining the original thoughts. Notice now too that you’ve dug yourself even deeper into the victim role making it more and more unfair and not right.
So you have to ask yourself GOOD questions.
Instead of “Why did I say that stupid thing?” Ask yourself, “What was I thinking before I spoke?” Then it’ll go to work finding that thought or thoughts and it’ll make sense why you said what you said. Then you can ask yourself another question, “Okay, what do I want to do now?” Bashing yourself isn’t going to change what happened. Why not just be kind and curious and forward focused?
What about the question, “Why aren’t they calling me?” To “What does their day look like?” I wonder what they’re doing. That leads to curiosity and kinder answers. Maybe they’re ministering, maybe they’re working” Maybe they’re swamped and instead of thinking they don’t like you, you start feeling compassion towards them and you call them.
Other questions are:
How am I perfect this?
How can I get the result I want?
How are you perfect for this?
Then your brain will list off your strengths and ways you’ve overcome difficulties in the past. Instead of feeling more like a victim, you feel empowered to tackle your circumstance.
Let your mind be open to the endless possible answers. There are so many other ways to look at things without being the victim. Everything is figuroutable as Marie Forleo says. You are strong and capable and have so much to offer and learn from working with others. Ask yourself those questions and more and give yourself the gift of letting the weight go.
Being a victim is optional. Suffering is optional.
Another question that I like to ask myself and my clients is: How am I creating this reality for myself? – this is a tough one for a lot of people to wrap their minds around. They really don’t want to own any responsibility with this injustice.
They really want to hold onto the belief that it’s not fair. It shouldn’t have happened. Things shouldn’t be this way. It’s their fault.
But all those thoughts will keep you stuck and closed off to the option of freedom just two steps away. You’re stuck in your half pen and completely closed to the fact that it’s wide open and you don’t have to stay stuck. You were never actually stuck. The gate wasn’t closed. You’re just looking at it from the wrong perspective.
You have to own your role in your thinking. It’s not what they did. They are a circumstance, remember? What others do, say, think…it’s neutral until you decide what you’ll make of it.
Thus it IS you creating your results.
Whenever you find yourself getting upset, getting defensive, and at the mercy of someone else’s behavior just know that you’re heading into victim mode.
I’m not saying we just have to roll with whatever anyone does. There are times when you are a victim to others actions and words, abuse. What then? How do you get out of victim state then?
I’m going to give you an extreme example because I want you to see that no matter how dire things may seem, you are only an emotional victim IF YOU CHOOSE TO BE.
Viktor Frankl was a neurologist and psychiatrist and holocaust survivor. He wrote “Man’s Search For Meaning” and many other works that I highly suggest reading – they’re tough because of the premise but they’re really amazing. Anyway, in that book he talks about being a legitimate victim. They were taken, thrown into a concentration camp, had everything stripped from them, forced to do extremely seemingly impossible tasks. They were victims to emotional, physical, and even spiritual abuse.
But to all that he writes:
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
And then this one:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Even as a victim in an abusive state you still have your agency to choose your thoughts, your attitude, your hopes, your feelings, and ultimately your power. The circumstances are always neutral. They don’t hold meaning until you place meaning onto them. That is your right, where your freedom lies, and ultimately your strength and power. You do not have to be a victim if you choose not to be.
You have power. You have choices. You have options. You have strength because you have your agency.
Realize that the shift from victim mentality to victorious starts when you take full responsibility of your life. Stop blaming, stop complaining, stop pointing the finger and realize that you always create your results. If you’re unhappy, it’s because of the thoughts you’re believing. Question those. Change all the YOU or THEY statements into I statements. Take ownership of how you’re feeling.
THEY didn’t make you feel angry, negative, upset, hurt. THEY CAN’T make you feel anything. Own that. Only when you own it that it’s not them hurting you can you realize that they don’t have power over you – you hold all the power.
Allow yourself to be curious. Ask yourself tons of questions and answer them. Don’t just let the questions sit there – answer them and remember ask yourself GOOD questions. Questions that invite a new perspective in.
I’m going to leave you with this last thought from Sunny Johnston,
“We all have a story. The difference is: do you use the story to empower yourself? Or do you use your story to keep yourself a victim? The question itself empowers you to change your life.”