Revert to your ‘factory settings’
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.”