Victimhood is pregnant with a myriad of personality traits that reflect an identity of broken, pitiful, and unable. There is a HUGE personal payoff to identifying as a victim.
If the largest part of your sense of self is a highlight reel of all the bad stuff you have endured, perhaps you should look at how you identify with and unconsciously benefit from this identity.
What is the benefit of peeling back, looking at, and letting go of all aspects of your ego including the victim narrative?
I am not saying deny, or minimize. Oh No. That is as unhealthy as identifying with it. Denying and minimizing are worthy of a dedicated post. It is as common of a defense mechanism is the victim narrative.
If you are wondering if you have been bitten by the victim narrative bug, let's look at the tone. Victimhood is marked by a mental "greatest hits" list of all the bad shit that has happened. We often give the trauma significant meaning. It is often measured as worse that everyone else's trauma.
The sad and self-perpetuating injury of victim hood, is that by identifying with it, you abandon something else in you. This ineffable thing in you, your capacity to learn and adapt from your trauma, your strength, and capacity to rise out of the ashes like a phoenix is forgotten beause the victim narrative is so loud. The powerful part of you is not seen, explored, or investigated. That is a trauma too.
The powerful payoff of victimhood is a toxic yet unconscious aspects of self-identification. Victimhood is a liar that short sells self-potential and happiness. To be free of a victim identity, we must be aware of the payoff.
Payoff #1 – Freedom From Personal Responsibility
One of the addictive qualities of victimhood is it provides a carte blanche excuse which frees the cardholder of personal responsibility. Basic human nature finds an alluring appeal in being excused from personal accountability and responsibility. If I see myself as broken or unable, well then, I have a carte-blanch excuse that gets me out of a heap of work.
If I am broken by the abuse I have endured, don’t expect me to regulate my emotions. I have an excuse in my back pocket that allows full on unchecked impulsivity to reign.
There is a great deal of accountability erased when I identify with the worst things that have happened to me. When I start thinking in terms of survivor, well, I feel some responsibility coming on.
Payoff #2 – Sympathy
One of the most powerful payoffs victimhood is the sympathy and pity we received from others. If the folks who love us feel sorry for us, in some convoluted universe, that proves their love. It also makes me feel important.
Eventually victimhood redirects the onus of personal responsibility from me to you. Those close to us somehow comes to bear more responsibility for my life than I do. I am broken. I am a three alarm fire. Why are you just sitting there?
When a victim begins to unravel and is triggered their "fixers" are expected to fix. If highly co-dependent relationships the needs of the victim always trump the needs of the victim.
Of course, that is putting the fixer, (partner/mother/father/sibling/friend) in a no-win situation, but no one will recognize the enabling until much later. If at all.
Payoff #3 – The Addictive Nature of Victimhood
Mental health professions acknowledge a pathology when one’s ego is over-inflated. We call the diagnosis Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Ironically, mental health professionals do not have a diagnosis when the ego is under-inflated.
If there is a superiority complex, there must be an inferiority complex. Since “Victimhood Disorder” is not a recognized mental condition, it is not typically a topic of discussion when the sufferer goes to therapy. It is not a part of the mental health professional’s vernacular.
Due to the many years of practicing meditation, I have come to understand my ego much better. I see the shades of my inferiority and superiority complex. By far, the most enduring and self-serving aspect of my ego are endowed with victimhood. The self-identification associated brokenness are relentless. I have endured some tragic events, especially during early childhood. The level of violence and neglect in my early years resulted in a temporary placement in foster care. There were other abuses too. Bad things happened.
I am not advocating minimizing, denying, or suppressing those parts of our past that are painful. I am not suggesting that the “bad-actors” in my personal drama do not bear responsibility. Of course, they do.
Rise Like a Phoenix
But this is not a blog post about abusers. This is a blog post about victims. I have become more aware of the victim narrative. It has a specific tone and a familiar script. When the greatest hits began to play, I change the script. I am hopeful about the potential for more healing. I am amazed when I look at what I have accomplished. I have hope that through continued personal growth I can begin to heal not just myself, but others.
I strive to see myself like a phoenix rising from the ashes of the worst thing(s) that has happened to them. I have autonomy. strength, discipline and responsibility in shaping my day and my future. Rise Strong Phoenix!
In peace – Diane