You know how it happens. Someone does something that hurts you and sometimes really badly – whether accidentally or deliberately doesn’t really matter – and you ‘victim’. I mean ‘victim’ as a verb not a noun and it means to play the victim role to ‘do’ victiming. Here are some clear signs that you (or someone you know) is ‘victiming’ …
- Refusal to accept any responsibility for the accident (though it is rarely just one person’s fault)
- Practicing all your blame skills, hunting high and low for evidence that this was negligence on someone else’s part
- Self pity – feeling sorry for yourself and isolating yourself if possible
- Phoning a personal injury claims line or trying to get some other sort of compensation
- Taking unnecessary time off work on medical grounds
- Going to the doctor for stress medication
- Focusing your thoughts on the evident rewards of ‘being a victim’
Of course I’m not excusing bad behaviour towards others, but I AM suggesting that victiming is VERY bad for your health. Here are some reasons and an example.
1. It keeps you psychologically weak. To stay a ‘victim’ you must constantly remember that you could and can do nothing about it. Don’t whatever you do, accept the faintest possibility that you’ll be fine.
2. It closes down the potential new information a challenging or painful experience offers. The vast majority of traumatic and challenging experiences can be turned into highly useful education opportunities. The person who has taken the good learning from a ‘bad’ experience will often tell you that they are truly glad it happened to them. GLAD! They wouldn’t want to NOT have had that bad experience. They will offer all sorts of good things - it helped them mature, they learnt about themselves, they discovered strength and courage, they learnt about others, they became more aware of the world …. loads.
3. Other people treat you with compassion and pity. You are showing them how – by treating yourself like it. And pity, particularly self-pity, is the last thing you need. It is subtly demeaning just when you need the very opposite.
Here is an example. In my role as a Powerchange coach, I once saw a woman on the TV who had had her face badly burnt – I believe it was from acid. Her face was healing and she had it protected by a piece of transparent plastic. She was clearly going through emotional hell – and had every reason to feel terrible. Eventually I got through to her personally and explained that I could reduce the emotional traumatic effect of the injury so that she would not be in such emotional pain and would be able to live a much more normal and healthy life. She thought about this and a few days later got back to me: She had talked to her counsellor and her lawyers, both of whom had said that her payout would be much less if she appeared in Court feeling better and less traumatised. (Both her lawyers and counsellors of course had a vested financial interest in her staying as a victim.) The money said she must stay emotionally in pain at all costs. At least until after the claim was finalised. Hopefully she has gone on to live a fulfilling and happy life. At the time I spoke to her she was ‘victiming’.
Last month someone else decided to wait for coaching for a similar reason.
Pain, both physical and emotional, is an important part of maturing as a person. The evidence is clear – those who renounce any ‘victiming’ behaviour and accept their circumstances as an initially unwelcome but powerful platform from which they can launch their new and different future do remarkably well, living emotionally strong, successful and satisfying lives.
Good on them. If you’re victiming about something and want out, call me.