Yesterday I let my emotions run away with me and I took to Instagram stories to defend myself in the wake of a situation that had been targeted at me that I felt was incredibly unjust and unkind. Following a year of extremely difficult emotional, physical and health-related incidents and a further six months of being subjected to some horrible stuff that I won’t get into here, I gave into my victim mindset and succumbed to self-pity, pessimism and pain.
In doing so, I exhibited some of the classic symptoms of someone who feels they are being victimised: a feeling of extreme powerlessness and hopelessness; sadness and pessimism; feeling personally attacked and blaming outside circumstances for how I was feeling.
For 24 hours, the following thoughts ran through my head on a loop:
“Why is this happening to me?”
“This is so unfair!”
“They are causing me so much pain”
“Nobody else has had so many horrible things happen to them in the past year”
“What did I do to deserve this?”
“Why is the world against me?”
For a whole day, I refused to take responsibility for anything (why should I bother, it will all just fall apart eventually anyway!), I cried to my loved ones (life has been so unkind to me, please make me feel better!) and I bypassed any feelings of anger and eventual release because I was too consumed with feeling sorry for myself.
Luckily, following a good night’s sleep and some serious introspection, I pulled myself together and reminded myself that THESE FEELINGS ARE NOT ME. Despite being sensitive and emotional at times, I am a strong individual who firmly believes in the power of following your sunshine. I also believe that everyone has it in their power be happy, no matter what challenges they happen to be facing at that particular moment in time.
I refuse to be a victim of circumstance for any longer.
Nobody is born with a victim mindset, in the same way that none of us are born with depression, anxiety or fear. It is a learned behaviour, which can stem back to childhood experiences or other acquired coping mechanisms later in life. We are all guilty of it to a certain degree, especially following trauma or difficult circumstances, but when faced with these situations it’s so important to remember that what we get out of life isn’t ever about what is happening to us; it’s all about the way that we view what is happening to us.
With this core belief in mind, no matter how far down the victim mindset rabbit hole we’ve come, it’s within all of our capabilities to reframe our thinking and reclaim our personal power. I am no expert on this; it’s an ongoing, daily work in progress, but it’s also something that I care so passionately about that I’m willing to put in the hard graft so that even if I get some terrible feedback on a blog post, it rains through my summer holiday or the same thing that happened to me this week happens to me again, I will never allow myself to feel like a victim again.
Here are my top tips for reframing your victim mindset.
Understand Your Triggers
We all have one thing which triggers a feeling of victimisation in us. It could be something to do with your intrinsic circumstances such as your weight or ethnicity, religion or sexuality. It could be your life choices, such as what you wear or your choice of hobbies, or something about your personality, who you are and what you stand for.
Once you understand what pushes your buttons, it’s easy to spot the external stimuli that make you feel personally ‘picked on’ by society or individuals, which in turn can help you to identify the internal causes of the emotion which lead to a victim mindset.
All emotions that we experience, including those associated with the victim mindset, are showing us how we relate to life and to people. Positive emotions come from a focus on integration and seeing people and events as being connected to us. Negative emotions come from a focus on separation and believing that things should be different from how they currently are.
The moment that you start to see everything as connected and trust in the flow of the universe, negative emotions and experiences automatically transform themselves into positive ones.
Doing away with separation includes taking any feelings of judgement away from your life circumstances and the behaviours of others (see my list of self-care ideas for more on this).
Look For The Lessons
Instead of asking in despair, “why is this happening to me?!” try asking with conviction, “what could this be teaching me?”. In this way, you’re reframing your situation from one of hopelessness and powerlessness to one of infinite hope and potential.
Difficult things happen to us all, but it’s those who use their traumatic life experiences to grow themselves that truly thrive in life – you just have to look at some of the case studies from my Women & Resilience interview series to see this!
Know Your Worth
The moment that you truly understand your worth is the moment that you stop allowing external circumstances and difficulties to define who you are and how you are feeling. It’s a liberating feeling to step into your inner light and realise that anything that isn’t supporting or enhancing its glow isn’t something that you want to be or need to be associated with.
You are worthy. Not just on those difficult days when the world seems to be against you, but BECAUSE of them. They are teaching you so much and you are growing as a result. Lean into them, be brave and know who you are inside. Nothing and nobody has a right to define you.
Own Your Vulnerability
Anyone who read this blog post on vulnerability knows how passionately I feel about this subject. I think our struggle with vulnerability is one of the principal issues that we currently face when it comes to encouraging a pervasive victim mindset. We are so scared of accepting and embracing vulnerability that anyone who prods us enough to bring it out in us (by touching on one of our triggers) sets off a defensive mechanism that leads to us feeling personally attacked and victimised.
If we can learn to accept vulnerability as a vital component of life and growth (thereby allowing it to become our superpower), we become able to lean into any uncomfortable situations we face rather than recoiling with a sense of outrage and injustice.
Reclaim Your Power
Remember that you are in control of your life and how you react to its circumstances. In fact, this is the ONLY thing that you are in control of. Because you can’t control others’ thoughts, feelings and actions then it’s fruitless to keep on trying. Feel confidence in your own convictions and beliefs, and remember that anything that doesn’t align with those convictions and beliefs doesn’t need to mess with your inner peace and personal power.
Say no to things that get in the way of your growth and wellbeing. Stop checking in on those who push your buttons. Ask your friends to stop telling you about what they are doing and saying. Remember that you have a personal choice about who and what you let into your life, and that personal power will take you a long long way.
I know from personal experience that when you’ve experienced something which has made you feel like a victim, that feeling won’t go away easily and working on reframing your victim mindset can take some time. Moving on from hurtful experiences can take days, weeks or even years for some. That does not mean that with some inner-work and reflection, you can’t eventually reach the peak of calmness – the place where you’ve always wanted to be. Give yourself space and time.
Now, more than ever, I feel like life is a continual loop of difficult lessons and learning, but with a little work and a lot of tenderness towards yourself and what you’re going through, you can change the way you view that learning.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all,” Helen Keller