Mind

Breaking out of a victim mentality. Start healing today

My mom used to be and still is to a certain degree a short-tempered person. That severely affected my childhood. I never knew "what I did wrong" to make her mad, and it led me to extreme anxiety and people-pleasing in my adulthood, as well as fear of abandonment. I often felt lonely, hated, and misunderstood. 

For the longest time of my life I blamed my mom for impacting my mental health, which didn't help with the healing process. Only when I was able to forgive her, I was ready to start healing (not just covering) my old wounds. However, they still stayed with me for a long time, as I associated my mental health struggles with who I was. I basically became my anxiety. Without it I didn't know who I was... 

It might seem weird, but victimhood is a learnt way of being. Oftentimes it comes with its own benefits, like people can sympathize us more, "love us more", or we may feel like we don't need to "suffer even more" in order to achieve something in life. It can become a "free pass" for living life the way it is convenient for us and receiving love simply cos "we have suffered a lot", "we earned it". I think in our society empathy is often mistaken for love. Tell people a sad story about you, and they will love you. Guilt is one of those emotions that we often want people to feel, so they wouldn't hurt us even more. It becomes our coping mechanism, not cos we are evil, but cos we don't know any better. Been there, done that. And I am not proud of it.

Breaking out of a victim mentality can be very hard. Awareness is only a first step to recovery. Realizing that we might not get any benefits from not being a victim anymore can really impact our ability to leave it behind. And that's why we tend to hold on to it. 

It's interesting how much it becomes a part of our identity. "I am a victim; I am always in pain." But like I said, without it, who am I? I strongly believe, however, that in order to recover or heal, if you want to call it that way, we must let go of our past and learn to live without that mentality that "I deserve love, cos I have suffered a lot" or "I won't get anywhere in life, because something has always been wrong with me." Of course, every situation is different, but I am sure, for most of us it will be a relief to know that we can change our present and future despite our past. It will be transformative to realize that we can create a somewhat new identity and take a full responsibility for our lives today. It can be scary in the beginning and empowering along the way. 

How to start this transformation? With awareness, like I have already said. Recognize your victimhood mentality and notice every time you want to pull "the victim card” but do it with no judgement. Many of us have done it, it's a part of the healing process to see yourself from the position of an observer and forgive yourself for whatever it is you are seeing. Once you are aware of your past experiences controlling your life, you can slowly start changing your thoughts and behavior, gradually creating your "new identity". For every person it's going to be a different process, but the important part is to realize that you don't need to be a victim to be loved and accepted. You can be strong and complete, and still be loved.

It's important to have realistic expectations, though. I think it's impossible for some of us to completely change our way of thinking and reacting to certain things, and it's ok. It may be painful to experience those feelings of neglect and fear of abandonment from time to time, but communication is key. Very often we can share our fears with others honestly and openly, to receive that confirmation that we are safe and loved in our relationship. We are no longer that child who experienced... (everyone's experience is different). At the same time, many unpleasant feelings, and emotions we shall still have to deal with on our own, and there are helpful tools that can help with that. It does get better with time, and much easier to cope. But your decision today should start with: "I am ready."