Re­vert to your ‘fac­tory set­tings’

Friday - - Society -

with chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions and they have cat­a­strophic think­ing, which means they’ll see prob­lems as dis­as­trous, and not for the lit­tle nui­sances they are.

“They usu­ally have a lost ex­pres­sion on their faces; they sigh and say ev­ery­thing’s too much for them, and they look as if they’re car­ry­ing the world on their shoul­ders. If they get stuck in vic­tim­hood, they can’t look af­ter them­selves and they can’t cope with the sim­plest things, like choos­ing from a restau­rant menu.

“They’re known for say­ing things aren’t their fault. In the ex­treme, their con­fi­dence erodes and they make their world smaller. They don’t go to work be­cause some­body was nasty to them on the phone, or they stop pur­su­ing a pas­sion like art, for in­stance, be­cause of an acidic re­mark some­one made. They feel their friends are let­ting them down and that peo­ple aren’t do­ing enough for them.’’

Most of us have ar­eas of our lives where we play the vic­tim. Some peo­ple may be re­duced to a quiv­er­ing wreck by their fi­nances or DIY jobs around the house, while oth­ers feel par­ents at the school gate are pick­ing on them. We all act the princess, blame other peo­ple, sit­u­a­tions and an­i­mals oc­ca­sion­ally, and we’ve all said, “It’s not my fault I’m late, blame the trains!” or, “It’s not fair. I can’t do this.”

Yet vic­tims make a habit of blam­ing ev­ery­one but them­selves most of the time. Why? Surely it’s eas­ier to get to work on time rather than think up pa­thetic ex­cuses for be­ing late five days a week? And wouldn’t it be bet­ter to stand So if some­one is deeply en­trenched in vic­tim­hood or is un­der­go­ing the Princess Syn­drome, is there any hope for them? Is there a way through the self-pity, blame, ex­cuses and tears? Coach and speaker Michael Serwa, au­thor of From Good to Amaz­ing (Re­think Press), says that be­cause we were all born happy and con­fi­dent, we can re­vert to “our fac­tory set­tings” with a lit­tle work. He stresses aware­ness is key.

“The dif­fi­cult part is recog­nis­ing we’re be­ing a vic­tim,” says Lon­don-based Michael. “Look at some­thing that went wrong in your life re­cently and re­mem­ber how you re­acted. Were you in floods of tears and blam­ing politi­cians or your doc­tor or your fam­ily? If so, you prob­a­bly have el­e­ments of a vic­tim per­son­al­ity.

“Once you are aware of it, you can make a de­ci­sion to change it, but you need to be com­mit­ted to change be­cause it means go­ing out­side your com­fort zone. Ev­ery time you hear your­self blam­ing other peo­ple or events, stop and ad­mit re­spon­si­bil­ity. Af­ter a while, your new be­hav­iour will re­place your old way of think­ing.”

Tri­cia be­lieves we can stop be­ing vic­tims if we change the way we view things that hap­pen to us. “Vic­tim­hood can be un­learnt by ask­ing your­self a se­ries of ques­tions,” she says. “Start by see­ing ex­pe­ri­ences as learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. When you are play­ing the vic­tim, ask your­self what you can learn from this sit­u­a­tion that will make you stronger. In Neveen’s case, she could work out where she made the mis­take with the pay­ments and dou­ble-check that part of her work in the fu­ture.

“If you’ve had a bad ex­pe­ri­ence in a re­la­tion­ship, in­stead of be­liev­ing all men are evil for the rest of your life, ask your­self what you learnt that you can do dif­fer­ently next time. Maybe you could learn how to trust peo­ple, or what traits to look for to de­cide who’s trust­wor­thy and who isn’t.

“The next ques­tion to ask is how you have con­trib­uted to the prob­lem. If you have no money be­cause you’ve spent your salary on a new flatscreen tele­vi­sion, there’s your an­swer. Ac­knowl­edge you’re con­tribut­ing to your prob­lems.

“Fi­nally, ask your­self if you’re part of the prob­lem or part of the so­lu­tion. By look­ing for an­swers to the prob­lem, you’ll feel em­pow­ered, which is the di­rect op­po­site of be­ing a vic­tim. If you’ve spent all your salary and can’t af­ford your rent, in­stead of cry­ing and think­ing, ‘Poor old me,’ come up with things you can do to earn money or get your rent sorted. Start see­ing mis­takes and set­backs as learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and you’ll move away from vic­tim­hood.”

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