I think we all have the urge to be victims.
Being a victim in your own mind is incredibly attractive; it removes the onus of responsibility for anything bad you have done or want to do, it allows you to stop making an effort to improve, and it makes everyone else around you a bully for pointing out your shortcomings. Who wouldn't want that?
These are what I like to call the pitfalls of victimhood.
Being a strong woman (and person) is not easy. It's important and ultimately makes you happier than pursuing immediate gratification, but it isn't something you just do. You have to force yourself to face the world instead of cower in front of it, and that takes energy and stamina. In those moments of weakness, it's easiest to simply say, "I'm a victim of something and so-and-so, and that's why I can't deal with this today." But that isn't the solution, and it only makes it harder when you have to face the same circumstances again.
I think a good example of this is the beginning of relationships versus a year or two down the line. When my husband and I first started dating, I used to feel like we never fought. We understood each other deeply. Why? Because when I did something Jacob didn't like or vice versa, we would explain away our behavior based on something that "victimized" us in our past. And at the beginning of a relationship, you accept that as an excuse because you're just excited that your partner is opening up to you.
Now that we've been together for almost two years, I can tell you with perfect honesty that we do fight. And it's because those excuses that we accepted as fact at the beginning of our relationship actually prevented us from growing and being better people. We expect more from each other now because being a victim didn't address the issue at all - it simply put it on hold.
So why shouldn't you embrace victimhood? Here are four reasons:
1. Being a victim doesn't excuse bad behavior. I knew a girl in college who grew up in bad circumstances. She used this behavior as an excuse to treat people callously, men especially. She also drank excessively and skipped classes. It was a bad situation all around. People around her forgave her cruelty because of her past, and that only made things worse. Just because something bad happened to you doesn't mean that you have a lifelong excuse to be mean. You are a sentient being who can choose to be better. And something bad has happened to everyone - maybe not to the same degree, but still something that they could carry around as a "get out of jail" free card with the label "victim."
2. Thinking you're a victim convinces you that you shouldn't try. Have you ever sat down to study for a test and immediately panicked? Maybe you hadn't been in class as often as you should have that semester, or maybe the topic was just something difficult to grasp. In any case, you have the impulse not to study at all. You feel that there is such a slim chance of success that you shouldn't put in useless effort. You feel that you deserve more time to study, even though everyone else in your class had the exact same restrictions as you did. There are studies that show viewing yourself as a victim prevents you from moving forward in the workplace. You don't believe you can achieve more, so you don't. Falling prey to the victim mentality is allowing yourself to think that you deserve more but everyone else is preventing you from accomplishing it. Don't feed into that narrative. There are times that things work out, and there are times that they don't - so take advantage of the times that they do.
3. Victimhood doesn't make everyone around you a bully. You can't be a victim unless someone or something is victimizing you. It can be one specific person, it can be society, it can be fate. But viewing the world as your adversary is an incredibly debilitating perspective. If you just treated your husband badly and he responds with anger and condemnation of your behavior, your husband isn't a bully. Don't be surprised if he doesn't respond with sympathy when you start crying. That's like a bully in the schoolyard crying when his prey punches him back in the nose. You started it, and he has a right to be upset! Your bad behavior doesn't get to be treated with kid gloves.
4. Calling yourself a victim means you don't grow. I think this one is the most personal for me. I have excused my own reactions and thought patterns because of things that have happened to me. But just because you've recognized the source of your behavior doesn't mean that you've done all the heavy lifting - now you have to try and move past the reason and address the current choices you're making. Embracing a victim mentality means that you've traced the source and now accepted that all of your bad actions must happen because of your past. We are human; we have the wherewithal to change.
What do you think? Do you agree with my thoughts on being a victim? Let me know in the comments below!