The Urge To Be the Victim


This piece is part 3 of the series “Poor Self-Image & Intimate Relationships.

Finalizing this series with the current article, we will dive even deeper into the problems that arise due to poor self-image.

The root of the issues that come up in these articles is usually the negative self-image, but as you might have noticed progressing the series, the emerging problems get harder to explain with only one variable.

The pinnacle, so to say, of having low self-esteem is the consistent need to victimize yourself in front of others.

Note that this is different from being an *actual* victim and understanding that you were abused in some way. What we are talking about is people who are going through the simple challenges of everyday life and looking for ways to *portray* themselves as the victim. These are people who actually want to be the victim in order to gain attention and pity from others.

Victimization is relatively easy to notice and understand its drawbacks, but to get past this behavioral habit requires an adequate comprehension of how your mind works.

So, to best understand the issue at hand and its underlying causes, we will once again divide the piece into 3 parts. Without further ado, let us find the bottom of the iceberg.

When Does One Feel The Need to Be the Victim?

The “urge to be the victim” is best described as an attention-seeking behavior usually implemented by someone with a poor self-image.

Therefore, a usual tactic that’s connected extremely with the previous piece’s topic, self-pity, is to consistently promulgate that the world mistreats you.
The difference, however, between self-pity and self-victimization is that self-pity is an internal search for confirmation while making yourself the victim is an external search for confirmation.

Accordingly, the person doing this will grab the attention of others, especially people who care about them, by “forcing” them to talk reassuringly towards the “victimized” person to feel at ease with their own decisions.

This action fills the ego-batteries of the self-appointed victim since it’s something that can’t be done by themself and need external stimulus for that to happen.

It certainly seems like a sneaky way to become the center of attention, but always remember that there’s usually no malicious intent in such actions by a low self-esteem person. It’s just that they can’t see their worth on their own.

What lies beneath this behavior isn’t limited to attention-seeking though. A deeper and “darker” reason for this to occur is a disillusioned thinking process; one that is split into two categories.

The first is an ingrained thought of deserving to be the victim because of a flawed sense of self. This is usually connected to the decisions the person makes or doesn’t make when it stumbles upon a crossroad-like situation.

Due to their low self-respect, they can’t believe in their own thinking pattern and actions, making them think that their choices in situations like these are mostly wrong, and hence, the consequences are befitting them.

Secondly, it’s associated with their sense of the values they hold. In case that they truly believe in a certain aspect, it might lead them to act in a way that gets others to praise their efforts.

This is another way to fill their ego-batteries since it will make them feel important and valued. However, always remember that if another person doesn’t hold the same opinion on that element they hold dear it’s hard for them to justify their thoughts due to their low confidence.

Victimization’s Effects

Whereas, an activity like that brings with it some consequences to the person that indulges in it.

Subconscious effect

The first and most important one is the effect on the person’s subconscious. By constantly making yourself the victim, you will find fault in everything except for your actions which will make your life even harsher.

That’s because you will be more viable to making mistakes since you won’t see your own wrongdoings, as well as make your mind ultimately believe that you are indeed a victim, filling up your everyday life with lots of negativity.

For example, when you find an error in your work you will instinctively try to blame it on external factors (such as fatigue) while there will be sure something that you could have done differently (sleeping appropriately).

Effects on the relationships with others

Another negative ramification is that others will begin to reassure and believe in you less and less.

Given the fact that you will be regularly filling up their daily life with negativity, they will find it hard to associate with you since they will connect a pessimistic atmosphere with you.

Moreover, trying to escape the responsibilities of your actions and throwing a tantrum for how the world treats you, will make it harder for them to believe in you and give you reasons why you aren’t the victim.

For instance, returning home from work with a gloomy attitude 3–4 times per week and complaining about how unlucky and mistreated you are, will unavoidably lead to fewer fun times and declining interest from your lover.

You will be felt like “luggage” from the person you are intimate with, in the sense that they will have to deal with their problems as well as give the confirmation and attention you need.

Learning to Withstand the Use of This Behavior

I’ve found three simple ways to negate the use of this behavior or use it to your advantage when it comes down to it. These of course aren’t a one-time solution to the problem though.

They need to be implemented constantly and become a habit that can change the way your mind interprets things, which is the underlying cause for victimization to occur and the ultimate goal for the solutions provided next.

1. Inverse usage

What doesn’t come up usually either by us or when searching for counter ways to self-victimization, is the reverse utilization of this negative energy.

This means that instead of letting this “I am the victim” thinking process weigh you down or tire you out you can harness this negative energy to motivate yourself to move forward and deal with what “threatens” you.

Of course, this can be easier said than done, but constantly reminding yourself that you have the power to change your actions that lead to the corresponding circumstances in life is the key to accomplishing this.

When you start blaming the world and feel unfairly treated, instead of not accepting your responsibility for every “defeat” that occurs to you, try to channel this energy directly into understanding what you can change to alter the outcome the next time you stumble upon a similar situation.

This is a very difficult process and needs a lot of consistent practice to bring forth positive results since it’s a perception adjustment.

The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you gain the power to change anything in your life.
– Hal Elrod

2. Get productive

A second solution is a similar counter to the self-pitying habit; the act of instantly occupying your mind with other things, when your thinking starts to drift into the victimization state.

In this way, in comparison to the previous one, you manage your energy consumption, while with the inverse usage, you manage your energy’s direction.

By being productive and doing things that need to be done anyway when your thoughts are drifting apart, you don’t allow your mind to affirm that you are indeed the victim in a situation since it becomes engrossed with other things.

This is a very good solution since it has both a short-term and a long-term effect on you. You not only escape the clutches of self-victimization, but you affirm in your mind that this isn’t a wanted state to be.

Hence, you can both stop being in this negative condition in the present and educate your mind and thinking process into not entering it in the first place.

Moreover, a brilliant idea for staying productive in case you can’t or don’t have anything to do is to write down the emotions that you feel at that moment as well as positive affirmations to oppose them presently and in the future.

These can be in the form of “I will never let myself down again”, or “I will try to be calmer next time”, or “I don’ need to blame others to feel better”, e.t.c.
The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.

– Walt Disney

3. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

The third countermeasure to self-victimization shifts away from energy management into how you interpret and analyze things.

Since it’s a thinking process habit you need to focus on your perception and the way your mind works, to be dealt with successfully.

CBT is the perfect option for that. To put it simply, CBT consists of the recognition of a pattern and/or thought and its challenging.

Firstly, you have to understand when your mind starts to create thoughts and images that confirm that you are a victim, and then secondly, challenge these thoughts with counterarguments.

For instance, let’s take as an example when you get in a fight with your partner for not doing a chore you agreed to do or they expected you to do.

When you sit alone and contemplate on the fight, your subconscious will try to help you escape the possible guilt by creating thoughts that justify your actions:

But I didn’t have any time today

But I did them the last time, e.t.c.

Moreover, it might produce thoughts that blame the other party in order to escape from your responsibility, like

They made more mess than me

They had more time than me, e.t.c.

The most appropriate time to use CBT is at moments like these precisely; notice the aforementioned thoughts and then try to challenge their validity.

For example,

Couldn’t I find some space in between my work and relaxing so I could do them?

Do I really need a scoreboard for who does the chores?

Does it matter more who does the mess, or being in a cleaner house?

Do I really know their whole schedule for today to say that?, e.t.c.

By understanding your line of thinking better and trying to question it healthily and logically, you will find yourself indulging in self-victimization less and less as time passes.

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

– Albert Einstein

Conclusion

To the people reading this piece or any other in the series, I most certainly know that you are struggling sometimes with yourself, and your thoughts, emotions, and actions are not in any way unkind or harmful on purpose.

Realize that your true potential as a human being is far more vast than you believe it to be and try to act in your life in such a way as well.

The world isn’t all about you, but not everything is out there to get you too. There’s a fine balance between these two that I am sure you can find.

This post was previously published on medium.com.

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Photo credit: Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

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