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Practical insights, food for thought and helpful tips to improve your life.

Root Out Old Victim Patterns

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Years ago, when I lived in Seattle, I facilitated a 12 Step workshop about ending gullibility and victimization. In the discussion I said that when we take full responsibility for our perception, feelings and behaviors, we can rid ourselves of the victim mentality. One of the women participating said loudly, “That’s not true! I’ve had seven “bad bosses” in a row and each one fired me, so don’t tell me I’m not a victim!”

As it was for this woman, it may be difficult at first for us to accept that, although we may not have control about the situations or people we encounter, we are fully responsible for the way we perceive and respond to these circumstances. If we have a parade of new faces playing out all too familiar persecutor roles, we should ask ourselves, who is the common denominator? If the answer is, “I am,” it is often a sign that we are operating from a victim mentality and that pattern is deeply embedded within us, even though it’s likely operating at an unconscious level.

When we activate our Observer Self, it helps us bring to conscious awareness our role in interactions with others. The Observer Self is the part of us that sees what is going on from a detached perspective, like we are characters in our own movie. From this higher vantage point we can see if what we’ve been telling ourselves about being a victim is really true. Is what’s happening really someone else’s fault, our fate, karma, bad luck, oppression, etc., or is something else at play?

Taking responsibility for our perceptions, feelings and behaviors reorients our center of power from outside of us to inside ourselves. This reorientation is no small thing. From this personal power center, we automatically take charge of our lives. We are willing to honestly examine our patterns of thoughts and behaviors to see how they’ve contributed to our victim stance. We compassionately acknowledge how our feelings of fear and sense of being out of control as kids likely contributed to unconsciously choosing to act like a victim in our adult relationships.

Each time we feel the old victim mentality arise within us and try to take hold, it’s an opportunity to look more deeply at our patterns of relating with non-judgmental curiosity and compassion to discover what other victim elements of our psyche need to be recognized, honored, fully felt and cleared. Each strand of victimhood we clear gives us greater access to our innate sense of power.

As we repeated practice this process, it becomes easier to move beyond feeling passively powerless over our circumstances. Instead we begin to see ourselves as an active creator of a thriving life story. From this new perspective, we choose how to filter a past negative experience. Do we carry it like an albatross as a life-deadening trauma? Or do we willing dive in, and do the inner work needed to clear it, so the incident becomes grist for our mill in relating differently to ourselves and others? The choice is ours. Even acknowledging we have a choice, breaks up that crusty victim mentality, so we can create a more life-affirming and meaningful future.

Marion Moss Hubbard