The Only Way to Truly Heal is To Shift Out Of Victim Mentality and Into Empowerment
I’ve had to reflect on the words and message I want to convey in this post, because to be honest, all of my personal and professional experience as a therapist has led me to taking a very different stance of the “victim”, “abuser” mentality that we are so saturated with when it comes to healing from abuse.
It is inspired by an Instagram post (I’ll link it here if you’d like to read it as well as the comments under the post for context).
In this post (and podcast linked at the bottom), I am challenging victim mentality, and why it’s critical to get out of victimhood if you’re in an emotionally toxic relationship, and overall in all of your relationships, health, business and self healing.
While many resonated with what I was conveying in this post, there were several who misinterpreted my message and what I was trying to convey, got defensive and accused me of not “thinking through” what I wrote, or were just disagreeing in some way.
Everyone has their own views, and on my platforms, I share my own. There’s no fluff when it comes to how I help my clients, and how I serve with my writing and other mediums of sharing.
Another shared that she thought my post was simplifying and lessening the impact of abuse and that I should have a middle ground between “victim” and “empowered” and that I was blaming the situation on the women in these relationships, leaving them feeling more down on themselves.
And, so I reflected on this….
The in between is AWAKENING.
It is recognizing we do have choice, and that we aren’t powerless to change.
It’s the realization that if we keep telling ourselves the story of victimhood, and how we are powerless to change,that it is ‘just how it is’ and that we’re stuck trapped, screwed, without options, we will keep creating these realities, over and over again like a bad horror movie.
It’s knowing that unless we take full responsibility for what we’ve created in our lives, and the steps to change from the inside out, we will never be able to overcome the situation.
It’s also focusing on ourselves, because unless we change from within, the outside will remain the same.
So in the meantime, in the in between of victim and empowered, hire a therapist or counsellor who understands and knows about emotional abuse dynamics, that can guide you through your ‘in between’ so you can get through to the other side.
You can leave a relationship, but unless you do the necessary inner work to transform the patterns that brought this relationship into your life, and allowed it to continue for more than one day, you will very likely attract another toxic relationship.
We own we are not ready to leave. We don’t think of ourselves as a helpless victim with no options or power to change our lives .
Would you rather feel like shit believing you are a helpless victim forever trapped in a relationship you cannot find a way out of? Or, would you rather choose a more empowering way to see yourself?
If believing you’re a helpless victim trapped in a hellish relationship that is toxic to you helps you feel better, than you can stick with what works, and I likely am not for you.
If you believe your poor mental health status, having no place to go, and fear are valid reasons why you have to stay, you see no hope for change in your partner, and you aren’t being physically harmed, then choose the “stay for now” approach and make a plan, get support and advocate for yourself!
But if you choose to believe that even though you’ve been abused, mistreated, violated, confused, manipulated, lied to, cheated, you are still POWERFUL and you can find a way out if there is no hope for change, but you choose to “stay for now” to form a plan, doesn’t that feel better?
Another commented on this post that there are people who are too scared to leave a relationship because they are with dangerous people who have weapons and guns, and that these victims/survivors need protection. I was not speaking to those instances. I was also not saying that anyone in this situation isn’t in need of protection and support.
And, I do understand the fear of leaving and what the repercussions will be.
I share from a place of personal experience, insight and awareness in every single piece of content I write, and every podcast episode I record.
So when someone comments I didn’t “think it through” by sharing my views and beliefs on my social platform, or that I am minimizing abuse, that is definitely not what I am doing.
If you are in a relationship where there is physical violence, and your partner has weapons and guns GET OUT NOW. Go to the nearest or furthest shelter (furthest would be best) and get to safety.
While I have immense compassion and get lit up when I hear of women being physically harmed, my message is for those who are in a subtly emotionally abusive relationship who are NOT being physically abused.
I cannot help women who are in a relationship with a psychopath, full blow Narcissist with NPD, or a violent partner over Instagram, Facebook or in a virtual session. So if you’re in this situation, you need to take immediate action, call the authorities, and run for your life.
Now that I have cleared that up, lets talk about victim mentality, and why it keeps many women in emotionally toxic relationships.
Most abuse recovery support groups foster victim mentality, and hold space for women to replay their stories of abuse over and over again.
And while talk therapy and support is a necessary part of the healing process for many, as is voicing what has happened to us in a safe container and space, it’s when we are repeating the story over, and over and cementing in our “victimhood” mindset (without taking different action or changing our internal state, thoughts, beliefs and emotions) that we stay stuck in it, and continue to attract people who will victimize us.
In no way is it my intention to minimize, simplify or discount what you have experienced in your life, or what you continue to experience in your relationship.
I am also not intending to blame anyone who has suffered abuse of any kind.
My intention is to challenge you to become more empowered and step out of the victim role, mentality and label.
I don’t want you to stay stuck and see yourself as a victim, and so I might share concepts and ideas that trigger you.
Anytime we are triggered we can look within and inquire what is going on for us.
Often, there is something for us to see when something has an impact on us emotionally or causes us to become triggered.
If you are triggered by abusive psychological and emotional behaviour, that is a normal human response. Use your emotional triggers as a warning sign that a boundary has been crossed or that something is wrong or off in the situation. Own your reactions, and take 100% accountability for them, but know that being triggered by abusive behaviour from other people is natural human response, you aren’t crazy or overreacting.
I am speaking of the headspace we can get into as someone with victim mentality. We can take on the mindset that everyone is against us, and take little to no action to change our situation, and we can become lost in depression, sadness and self pity.
“Look at what he continues to do to me even though I give him everything, a million chances, forgive him, and sacrifice myself” is the theme of victimhood.
This is what someone in a toxic relationship needs to snap out of. Eventually you have to see the truth, that you are in charge of changing your life and that he isn’t going to change (if this is the case). That nobody is coming to save you. You have to save yourself.
If this doesn’t happen, you likely will stay in the exact same place in the exact same, or worse, relationship.
Signs of Victim Mentality:
You believe everything is always happening to you that you cannot control or influence
You place responsibility for what occurs in your life on someone else, in this case your partner
Refusal to accept responsibility for patterns that show up in your life
You feel powerless to change your circumstances
You enjoy telling your painful stories over and over again to anyone who will listen
You refuse to analyze your life and make changes
You think other people have it better than you
Your conversations are often centered around problems and what’s wrong
You attract people into your life who carry a similar victimhood mentality as you
You are always arguing for your limitations “I can’t change my life or leave my relationship because of my mental health issues” or you find yourself ‘ya-butting’ to every suggestion made to you to change your life. When someone offers you an alternate view or solution your knee jerk response is “ya but_________” (insert excuse or reason for why it won’t work).
The benefits of a victim mentality:
You don’t have to take full ownership and responsibility for your own life.
You feel righteous when you feel like the victim and can point the finger outward to “them” or “him” being the cause.
You get attention and validation.
You don’t have to take any risks and can stay in your comfort zone, even if it’s hell, its familiar and known.
The Drawbacks of Victim Mentality
Your body will begin to break down with health issues, adrenal and hormone imbalances, thyroid disorders and other “syndromes”
Your mental state will deteriorate (depression and anxiety are nearly a certainty)
You are more apt to fall into ‘learned helplessness’ and continue these patterns in a new relationship and other areas of your life, business, relationships etc..
You will continue to stay stuck and perpetuate the same patterns – even when you change your outer condition (leaving the relationship for example)
You will find you keep attracting people who will victimize you or treat you poorly
How to Take Back Your Power and Shift Out of Victim Mentality
Wake up to the awareness and acknowledge you’re in victim mentality. Just own it here, right now, that you are stuck in victimhood.
Own your part and role in the dynamic and getting to where you are now. What have you done (or not done) to create what you now have?
Take 100% self responsibility. Stop pointing the finger. You cannot control others, but you can control your own words, thoughts and actions.
Get out of your comfort zone by taking an uncomfortable action TODAY to move toward where you want to go. Commit this day forward to ask “what would the powerful version of me do in this situation”? Learn how to create a new identity for yourself that doesn’t include being a victim of circumstance.
Change “You” statements to “I” statements. Stop saying “you make me feel _________” and switch it to a self-ownership statement. “When you do _______ I feel _______”.
Stop arguing with life. See yourself a survivor, a thriver, a person who looks for solutions, or warrior if that resonates. Not a ‘victim’ of anything.
Start to notice when you’re not taking self responsibility. Choose to take self ownership and take aligned action from that space
Get powerful support from a professional. Find someone you resonate with, who has been where you now are, and who can lead you to your next level. Someone with the proper training and experience in counselling to help you work through any emotional material or traumatic events that need to be cleared. A mentor and guide who will challenge as well as support you on your journey to self empowerment and creating healthy love, within the relationship you are in now, or in a future relationship.
It starts within you. What we hold on the inside is reflected on the outside in our repetitive life patterns. Always.
Ready to get started with stepping out of victim mentality and into empowerment?