Before I became a psychologist, I had no idea that the topic of this very special Sassy Psychologist entry was actually a widespread psychological phenomenon. Many people fit the profile of this condition but go about their lives never naming it. Their family members also stand by watching this person’s behaviour, never noticing the important pattern at its base. I’m talking about victimization which is more commonly known as victim mentality. If you do not know what I am talking about, a person with victim mentality or victim consciousness (as I prefer to call it) is someone who acknowledges their problems but never seems to do anything about them…EVER. They will often give you a list of what is going wrong but will never settle on a solution. The dialogue of a victim may sound like this: “This is not fair! I’ve tried everything. I can never catch a break! Why do horrible things keep happening to me?” Of course, we are all victims at some point in our lives; bad things have, do and will happen and we are all entitled to feel sorry for ourselves once in a while. However, when embodying the victim is the most frequent and natural reaction to your environment, it’s time to consider a change. But how? How do you possibly remove the victim from your go-to mental state? Well, the Clinical Director of The Montreal Center for Anxiety and Depression, Sandra Reich M.Ed. can help us with this.
As I like to tell her, Sandra Reich is a beast of a woman, entrepreneur, practitioner and expert. In addition to leading a team of successful practitioners, Sandra is the Co-Director of Empowered Women Workshops, Co-Director of Anxiety Videos, and Founder of Sandra Reich’s Couple Retreats. She is also the host of a hugely popular international internet radio show called “Straight Talk with Sandra Reich.” And if that isn’t enough, she is the best-selling author of a #1 self-help book on relationships, (Once upon a Time- How Cinderella Grew Up and Became a Happy Empowered Woman available on www.amazon.ca) It is to this life changing book that we now turn our attention.
Sandra has given The Sassy Psychologist special permission to use an excerpt from her book to help us “leverage against the victim mentality” (Reich & Gomez, 2012, p.49). As described in the book, here are some of the steps to conquering victim consciousness:
Be willing to let go of the idea that life must be a certain way. We have all heard stories such as the Valentine’s Day celebrations turning into nightmares because the twelve roses we received were the wrong color. Though it is more than OK to have preferences and boundaries, one still has to stay flexible enough to let life take its course. Be willing to be flexible and be part of the flow of life.
Don’t expect everything to be fair. Just don’t! Fairness is a cop-out. If you want to, give yourself five minutes (or five weeks) of whining about the unfairness of it all. We like to call this “the pity party.” [After the pity party is over,] pick yourself up and act on your best interests, leaving behind the fairness fairy tale.
Be willing to take responsibility for your own life and happiness. Be your own hero! Take charge and take responsibility. You can only do what you can. Find out what that is and do it.
Be honest about your feelings and take care of them. Don’t let negative feelings become your master. According to Star Wars, that’s exactly the moment you succumb to the dark side […]. Invite your nurturing side to come in and help with the emotion that is bringing you to your knees. If you cannot do it alone, seek outside counsel […]. In time, your […] hurt will lessen […].
Have some intellectual integrity. Avoid negative inner or outer dialogue. […].
Cultivate gratitude and positive thinking. […]. Gratitude has been shown, in study after study, to have an enormous impact on mood and to have the ability to immunize against depression and anxiety. It does not matter what you are thankful for, be it hot water, a roof over your head, having enough to eat, or having great love in your life. What matters is how deeply you feel this gratitude.
Foster resilience. Resilience […] is the ability to withstand difficult times. You can really fake this one until you integrate it. Can you survive storms? Might you try? Having resilience requires letting go of control [and] trusting [that you will] withstand challenges […].
Exercise hope through what we know in neuroscience. We are only beginning to learn about our capacities. Neuroscience is offering us great hope for things that were once considered impossible […]. The brain is capable of creating real change in your life [by the formation of] new neuronal pathways through hopeful and positive thinking.
Accept help when it is genuinely offered to you. Who says we are supposed to do everything alone? We are social creatures. This is our strength. Let’s be smart and accept help when it is genuinely offered from the heart. Women love to be superheroes and do it all themselves, while slowly falling apart. Our job is to take care of ourselves first so we can take care of the others we love. We cannot be there for others if we are not there for ourselves. Receiving help will allow us to stay more present for ourselves.
Live in the present moment. When we worry about the future or obsess about the past we miss the chance to live our best lives. Such worry feeds victimization. Make the choice to live in the present. Living in the present doesn’t mean you aren’t looking after your future goals. It means being fully present in the moment [and] fully engaged in [current] conversations and activities.
Believe in your worth. Once you know your worth you cannot stay in the victim mind-set. You were born worthy. You are always worthy.
Reich, S. & Gomez, M. (2012). Once Upon a Time: How Cinderella Grew Up and Became a Happy Empowered woman. Lexington, KY: USA.