How to stop playing the Victim

How to stop playing the Victim

Recognising when you’ve slipped into a victim mentality is a pivotal moment because awareness is the first step towards change.

In Stephen Karpmans’ ‘Drama Triangle,’ the Victim represents one of the key roles we might assume in various life situations.

The Victim role emerges when we feel powerless, self-pitying, or overwhelmed by the struggles of life. Within the Drama Triangle, there are two other roles: The Persecutor and The Rescuer.

The Persecutor tends to blame, point fingers, and criticise others for their perceived wrongdoings.

On the flip side, The Rescuer often swoops in to save the day, appearing to offer help and support. While this may seem like a positive role, The Rescuer’s actions are frequently driven by a desire to boost their self-esteem, validate their self-worth, and deflect attention from their issues.

Despite their different titles, all these roles share an underlying aspect of victimhood.

It’s not uncommon for us to slip into these roles within the Drama Triangle multiple times a day. Our capacity to adopt these mindsets and embody these archetypes is a natural part of human behaviour, often influenced by our ego or “little mind.”

If we frequently harbour thoughts of life being a relentless struggle, of the world being against us, and of our actions never measuring up, we’ll likely find ourselves stuck in victim mode.

Conversely, if we habitually blame others, react with anger, and struggle to admit when we’re wrong, we might spend a lot of time in the role of the Persecutor.

It’s essential to recognise that we’ve all experienced these mindsets at some point, and there’s no shame in it. However, lingering too long in a victim mentality can leave us feeling disempowered and confined.

Similarly, if we continually rush to the aid of others, engage in people-pleasing, and neglect our own needs, we risk becoming entrenched in the role of the Rescuer.

The drawback of these various states is that they erode our sense of power and limit our ability to manifest the lives we desire. Breaking free from these patterns opens the door to a more empowered and fulfilling existence.

How To Spot When You’re in Victim Mode

Some of the common thoughts, feelings and behaviours we experience when we are in victim mode are;

  • Life is difficult/hard or a struggle
  • Feeling sorry for ourselves
  • Feeling powerless/hopeless
  • Not taking accountability for ourselves
  • Blaming other people or situations for where we are in life
  • Feeling alone or isolated
  • Defensiveness
  • I can’t do right for doing wrong
  • Critical of others
  • Quick to judge others (and ourselves)
  • Where am I going wrong
  • What’s the point
  • Lack mentality
  • Resentment
  • Feeling locked in an inner battle

Acknowledging that we’ve assumed the role of a victim and found ourselves on the Drama Triangle requires a unique blend of courage and accountability. These patterns of thought are deeply rooted in the ego, which thrives on fear and separation.

The ego possesses a remarkable talent for generating drama and coaxing us into perceiving situations through the lens of the Drama Triangle.

Have you ever experienced a sense of powerlessness? That’s your inner victim crying out for rescue. Have you disregarded your gut instincts and subsequently laid blame on someone else for the outcome? Once again, the victim mindset is at the helm. Have you ever felt anger or resentment about your life circumstances but failed to take meaningful action to address them? You’ve guessed it—victimhood.

Think about how often you’ve engaged in the “yes, but” game. For instance, when someone offers a helpful solution to a problem you’re facing, do you instinctively respond with, “Yes, but that won’t work because…”? I’m sure you’re familiar with this scenario.

In my role as a hypnotherapist, I’ve observed a strong connection between playing the victim and experiencing shame. Brene Brown’s enlightening research on shame, which I highly recommend exploring through her TED Talk, sheds valuable light on this subject.

Shame is an uncomfortable emotion that most of us strive to evade, often resorting to excessive drinking, overeating, gambling, or reckless spending to cope. The ego, our relentless protector of self-esteem, also plays a significant part in perpetuating the victim mentality. It stubbornly refuses to admit fault or accept any form of failure. However, embracing responsibility for our lives weakens the ego’s grip and paves the way for personal growth.

How To Take Back Your Power

So, how can we break free from the victim mentality, step off The Drama Triangle, and reclaim control over our lives?

It all begins with a profound shift towards responsibility and accountability for our actions, decisions, and past behaviours. This shift empowers us to shed the victim role and take on the role of creators of our own lives.

Here’s a transformative exercise to help you gain insights into your current thoughts and perceptions while taking ownership of them:

Start by completing the sentence “I should” for various areas of your life, such as your career, health, relationships, and family. Pay close attention to the feelings and thoughts that emerge. For example:

  • I should have left my ex-partner sooner.
  • I should have sought help for my emotional struggles earlier.
  • I should have achieved more in my career by now.
  • I should have taken a more proactive approach to growing my business.
  • I should be experiencing greater satisfaction and happiness in my life.

Once you’ve listed your “I should” statements, ask yourself “why?” for each one. Dive deep into the underlying reasons behind these beliefs. For example:

  • I should have sought help earlier because I endured silent suffering for an extended period, neglecting my well-being, which has now significantly affected my health.
  • I should have achieved more in my career by now because, at 41, it seems like all my friends have achieved greater success.

Reframe each “I should” statement into an empowering “If I wanted to, I could…” statement. This shift in perspective opens up a world of possibilities. For example:

  • If I wanted to, I could have sought help for my emotional struggles earlier.
  • If I wanted to advance in my career, I could have taken a more proactive approach by seeking alternative opportunities and dedicating my spare time to reading books that support my personal development.
  • If I wanted to, I could have been more proactive in growing my business by attending more networking events and creating additional opportunities and leads.

Finally, answer the question “Why haven’t you?” for each of your reframed statements. Reflect on the reasons behind your inaction or hesitation. For example:

  • I haven’t sought help earlier for my emotional struggles because I believed it was normal to experience stress, and I thought I would eventually overcome it.
  • I haven’t explored ways to progress in my career because my inner “poor me” voice has held me back, and I haven’t proactively challenged that limiting mindset.

Now that you’ve reframed your statements and explored the reasons behind your choices, take a moment to reflect on where you could have acted sooner, assumed control, or made different decisions. This exercise also unveils any limiting beliefs, thought patterns, or perceptions that may have hindered your progress or may still be obstructing your path to personal growth and empowerment.

Recognising and releasing the victim mentality is a powerful journey towards personal growth and empowerment. As we step off The Drama Triangle and embrace responsibility for our thoughts, actions, and decisions, we reclaim the role of creators in our own lives.

The exercise I’ve explored here offers a transformative pathway to shift our perspective from “I should” to “If I wanted to, I could.” This shift liberates us from the grip of victimhood and opens doors to endless possibilities. It enables us to confront limiting beliefs, thought patterns, and perceptions that may have held us back, empowering us to take charge of our destinies.

Breaking free from the victim mentality is an act of courage and self-accountability. It allows us to transcend the ego’s fear-based narratives and liberate ourselves from The Drama Triangle’s constraints. Instead of dwelling in powerlessness, we become architects of our own lives, experiencing the true essence of empowerment.

So, let us embark on this transformative journey, free ourselves from the clutches of victimhood, and embrace the boundless potential that lies within us. It’s time to step into our roles as conscious creators and authors of our own narratives, shaping a future filled with empowerment, self-awareness, and limitless growth.


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