How To Let Go Of The Wounded Victim Role And Heal The Pain Of The Past
Feeding The Inner Victim
“The wounded recognized the wounded.” ― Nora Roberts
Letting go of the wounded victim title means to drop the inner dialogue and accompanying behaviour, thus repeating the same victim-like experiences.
People who fall into this category of victimhood adopt a passive-aggressive role in their interactions with others. They may pose as victims at times and yet become the aggressor at other times. They are attempting to gain the best of both worlds, since others are more likely to respond to their demands when their behaviour is erratic.
The wounded victim uses blame to deflect feeling bad about oneself. By removing blame for their behaviour, it liberates them from having to identify with the consequences of their actions.
They blame others and the world for their current circumstances. They do not assume ownership of their lives since to do so would mean dealing with uncomfortable emotions which threaten their self-esteem.
The wounded victim imposes guilt trips on others to lure them into their world so they may feel their pain as well. Much like a spider luring its victim into its web to spin a drama of negativity. Their thought process may correspond to the following inner dialogue, “If I am to feel miserable, then everyone else must suffer too.”
In their best-selling book The Tools, authors and psychotherapists Phil Stutz and Michels Barry offer the wisdom relating to one’s pain story, “Your experience of pain changes relative to how you react to it. When you move toward it, pain shrinks. When you move away from it, pain grows. If you flee from it, pain pursues you like a monster in a dream.”
For the wounded victim, drama is an ever present process playing out their lives, given they are constantly running away from pain since to feel their emotions would be inconceivable.
Playing the victim role elicits sympathy from others towards which they become accustomed to over time. They feed this inner victim every time someone feels pity for them and so the cycle continues.
Yet life is not to be lived at this level since this is less than what you are capable of. Unfortunately life’s events may lure us into a false security and if we do not attend to our inner life, we find ourselves stuck in this victim role.
Own Your Drama
“You are not a victim. No matter what you have been through, you’re still here. You may have been challenged, hurt, betrayed, beaten, and discouraged, but nothing has defeated you. You are still here!” — Steve Maraboli
I know of a person who has played the victim role for decades. Having known him since early childhood he was dealt a series of unfortunate circumstances, which were not of his choosing. His emotional life was hampered due to parents who were both emotionally distant.
Subsequently, he passed through into adulthood and sought to use their external conditions to validate the torment of his inner world. That is, “I am who I am since my environment has shaped me into this person.” Yet he failed to acknowledge that his thoughts, beliefs and emotions created his external reality which they live today.
To break free from the victimhood role it is crucial to recognise you have been feeding a perpetuating cycle of misery.
Take responsibility for your life — owning your problems liberates you from having to blame others for your pain. The problem is never ‘out there’ and once you appreciate this by connecting with your pain, power is gained knowing you alone create the circumstances of your life.
Phil Stutz and Michels Barry remind us once more that, “Pain is the universe’s way of demanding that you continue to learn. The more pain you can tolerate, the more you can learn.”
Own your drama, do not impose it on others in order to appease yourself or to gain something from others. This type of behaviour only perpetuates the victim mentality.
Life is replete with wonderful opportunities when we assume ownership of our own circumstances — power and wisdom are summoned when we overcome obstacles rather than cower from them. Change your perception of self so that you cease to identify with the victim. This may be seen as a process rather than an event.
Master Your Emotional Life
“You can either be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It all depends on how you view your life.”― Paulo Coelho
It has taken an entire decade of self-development, self-awareness and spiritual guidance to be where I am today and yet my journey of personal growth has only begun. There is no destination to get to in a hurry. It is Helen Keller who reminds us of the virtue of developing character, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved”.
Those who play the victim’s role must break the cycle of being around people who are also victims. Much like giving up smoking or drinking, disassociate with people who are victims in order to transform the inner self.
Many self-help books and courses including A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) outline the first steps for healing and transformation begin by distancing oneself from the offending source. It may be hard at first, especially if your source happen to be loved ones or close friends. In time you will come to understand that misery loves company and the more you feed this misery, the more it desires to linger.
You are the sum of the five people whom you regular associate with. If those five people are also victims, your chances of creating an empowering future will be hampered.
In a similar vein, take appropriate steps toward becoming the master of your destiny. Undoubtedly you will win some battles in life and lose others. In fact, for a time you may lose more battles than you win, but that is the game of life.
It is what you do and whom you become when challenged that determines your character. Everyone can handle winning, there is no lack of feeling good when on top, although not everyone can handle losing and yet it is in losing that our personal character is formed.
Seek to develop a deeper understanding of your emotional life, by becoming attuned to your inner dialogue.
As you learn to master your emotional life, you will naturally see patterns evolving which give rise to your predominant thoughts. By observing them, rather than engaging with them, in time they no longer have power over you since you have created a space between them.