Learning to feel like the victim
It’s mid-morning in the accounts office where Neveen* works and her colleague Dylan* has just pointed out a mistake in some payments that she calculated the day before. Naveen, 36, realises at once she was wrong, but instead of admitting the error and seeing how the accounts can be salvaged, she immediately reels off a long list of excuses for her miscalculation.
“She sighed as if the job was just too demanding for her,” says Dylan, who has worked with Neveen for the past year. “Then she blamed everything and everyone, from the girl who brings the invoices up to our office, to the software she says has been playing up recently. She even said she was tired because her cat kept going in and out of her room all night, stopping her getting a good night’s sleep.
“In the end ‘the princess’ just looked at me with big eyes and I could tell she needed me to sort it out for her. As soon as I offered to phone the bank on her behalf, she cheered up. It’s a stunt she pulls all the time. She refuses to take responsibility. She comes up with some amazing excuses. Already this week she’s blamed her doctor, her youngest daughter and a cab driver for things that have gone wrong.
“She always says it’s their fault that she lost some notes or she was late for work, or she says her family made her do things she didn’t want to do. If she feels we’re not sympathetic, she bursts into tears. It’s become a bit of a joke among the staff now, though she’d be mortified if she knew that.”
Neveen is playing the role of a princess in her office. At first her colleagues were happy to help her, but now, after months of moaning and complaining from her, they feel as if they’re walking on eggshells. They’re afraid of tackling her in case she cries, yet they’re fed up with bailing her out. According to UK-based hypnotherapist, counsellor and coach TriciaWoolfrey, victimhood is “learned helplessness” and it starts early, sometimes in childhood with an overprotective parent.
“Often, if the child gets into trouble at school, the parent will blame another child or the teacher,” says Tricia, who has a practice in Harley Street in London. “The child doesn’t learn to cope with anything. They learn a ‘poor me’ attitude from their parent and they start to believe life is difficult.
“As we grow up, this victimhood can stay with us and victims remain helpless people who always need rescuing. They can’t deal