Today I want to write about something that has been on my mind for some time and seems to keep coming up a lot recently in conversations – Victim Thinking. Stay with me, there is a connection to Adrenal Fatigue.
Playing The Victim
Just to be clear, I am talking here about a mindset. I am not trying to blame victims of violent crimes or natural disasters. Although even with those you see some coming out the other end stronger and others who break under the “Why me?” thoughts. I can say that because I have been there. While receiving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for my PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) I have learned that it was my “Why me?” mindset that enabled those traumatic memories to manifest into PTSD. People with victim thinking are more likely to develop such conditions. And it makes sense why.
I could have taken steps to change my situation. But I did not. Mainly because I was under shock, so you can’t blame me, right? Wrong! Well, kind of wrong. While in the situation I was paralysed with shock and horror. However, had I been more aware and changed the way I think and the way I see things earlier, it would have never gotten to that point. So the earlier you can check yourself and re-educate your mind of how to see situations and take responsibility, the more likely you are to avoid getting into bad situations or suffering from them. By not blaming others and taking responsibility, you are in charge and when you are in charge, you have the power to stand up for yourself and do something about it.
Examples Of Victim-Thinking
I came across this picture on Facebook today and it was the last straw to make me decide to write about this subject, which is very close to my heart.
The picture describes all those sacrifices women make: Giving up their name, their home, their bodies. But where does it mention that women, too, are thinking humans that make their own decisions? While I agree that one should appreciate their partner and be grateful for them, women are not victims of nature, designed to make all the sacrificing. For the right partner, they may DECIDE to do certain things, but surely you cannot blame your partner for that. And appreciation and gratitude goes both ways. Being in a relationship, both parties give up their previous life, both parties compromise and sacrifice. In many relationships, it is still the man who brings home most of the money, which seems to be taken for granted. “Oh, but I can’t work as much, because I am bringing up his children!” – Sure, but they are your children too and you both decided to have them (ideally). How about we stop rating who gave up the most and just appreciate each other for everything we do for one another? Just a thought.
I recently had a lengthy conversation about this with two girlfriends. One of them was very big on blaming guys for everything that was wrong in our lives. An ex-boyfriend of hers had “wasted her time” by staying in a relationship with her for two more years after he already knew (so she says) that it was not working. How dare he? What a horrible individual he was…! No thought was wasted on maybe he was confused? Maybe he did not know for a fact that things are not working out? Maybe he just feared that it may not? Maybe he was clinging on to a failing relationship because he loved her and did not want to accept that the relationship was just not working out?
It may seem easy to blame someone else for our pain. And maybe it is. In the short term. Long term it is very detrimental to our lives and health. When I first came to London, I did so for my ex-husband. See what I did there? I did something for him. And this is how easily it becomes his responsibility. And when things started to become bumpy, I started to despise him for making me give up my home and come all this way to a foreign country living in a city that I hated with every fibre of my being. Those feelings were eating me up from the inside and were a terrible strain on our marriage which did eventually break down. I have been divorced for almost 4 years now.
We were seeing a couple councillor to try and patch things up at the time and she was the first person who put the mirror up in front of me and challenged that thinking. She kept telling me that it was I who has made that decision, I who packed up my things and moved here. I remember thinking “How bloody dare she?” and it was not until much later that what she said started to sink in. The funny thing was, once it did, once I took responsibility for my decision to move to London, the hate in my heart dissolved and I felt so much lighter and happier right away. And not only that, with the hate-cap off, I started to see London for what it was – the most amazing city in the world! I fell deeply in love and am now so happy that I did make the decision, 9 years ago, to take a leap of faith and come here. Rather than my greatest failure, moving to another country now became one of my biggest successes which left me feeling very empowered and ready to take on the world. You see how a little shift in thinking can change your perspective on life as a whole.
Society at large supports a victim mentality. One of the best examples is obesity:
- Mannequins in shop windows should now be fat too, because it is offensive that they sport a healthier weight than the average person. Right, why should be take responsibility for our health and reduce weight when we can just fatten up our surroundings to make ourselves feel better.
- Scientists have found a fat-gene – halleluja! It is not your fault, it is genetic. Funny then that when you look at obese families, their pet tends to be fat, too. And I am pretty sure that their dog is not actually related to them. In fact, I would even argue that most of us have the “fat gene” as part of natural selection. Think about it, those best able to store fat would have been the individuals most likely to survive during difficult times 200,000 years ago. Yet not everyone is fat today. Maybe some of us just take responsibility for their health. Now, don’t get me wrong. Weight issues are complex and often there are underlying health issues. In fact, I think there are always underlying health issues, because a healthy body does not store excess fat. Excess fat in itself is a symptom. But taking charge of your health certainly goes a long way in combating weight issues.
Typical Characteristics of Victims
There is a nice little article in the Huffington Post: Do You Have ‘Victim Mentality’? What To Do About It. In this article the author describes a few characteristics of those with victim thinking:
- People who are victims usually don’t see that the only thing in common between all the people and situations they think they have been victimized by is themselves.
- Victims usually are people you can’t depend on, because they deny responsibility for their actions. They are quick to blame other people and situations for anything that doesn’t work in their lives.
- Victims don’t have resilience, which is the ability to quickly bounce back after being knocked down.
- Victims generally are passive.
- Victims are usually angry at the people or events they think have “done them wrong,” and underneath the feeling of anger is almost always the feeling of powerlessness.
- Successful people are rarely victims. One might be able to be a victim and still make money and have great relationships in rare cases, but usually it would be difficult for victims to be successful. To be successful you need to learn from your mistakes and try again. Victims are, by definition, people who do not acknowledge responsibility for their actions and who blame outside forces.
If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim. (Richard Bach)
Helplessness And Adrenal Fatigue
Being in charge is important for adrenal health. In fact, researchers have found in experiments that rendering an animal trapped and helpless is one of the most rapid ways to deplete its adrenals. Being in charge does not mean that you should do everything yourself, accept and ask for help. This is not about tasks. It is about the way you think and feel.
In Dr Wilson’s book on Adrenal Fatigue (Adrenal Fatigue – The 21st Century Stress Syndrome) he says:
“The particular kind of rest you need when you have adrenal fatigue comes not so much from lying down, but from standing up for yourself, and from removing or minimizing the harmful stresses in your life. […] because a sense of powerlessness or helplessness is the most debilitating and stressinducing emotion there is.”
Can you see yourself in anything I have written about? Do you recognise thought patterns with which you victimise yourself? I have found 3 questions to be especially useful in taking responsibility for your part and changing a “victim-memory” into one of responsibility for your own life. So when you think back and you think of a person or situation which you have blamed for unhappiness or bad things happening to you, try and ponder on these 3 questions for a little while. And do this a few times. See if they change things for you.
- What was your part in that situation / how did you contribute to it?
- How did the situation serve you?
- If a person was involved, why would that person deserve your forgiveness now?
I realise that for some things it will be difficult to think about how it served you. But really try and come up with something. If you really make an effort to find something, anything, that may have been beneficial about the situation for you, you will be surprised by what comes up. And how much better you will feel after. Taking responsibility and being accountable for your own life is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself – and your adrenal glands! 😉