Underneath The Victim Label Lies Anger
It may not be intentional, but somewhere along the way, some people adopt the fact that their victimhood gives them an excuse to remain trapped. “As long as I am a victim, I have a reason to wallow in sadness and self-pity.” No one wants to shame the victim, right? So, they put on their victim label and remain firmly rooted in the past.
They think by having an ‘I was a victim’ mentality, earns them the right to complain about it as much as they see fit. People don’t realise that we have the power to overcome a lot of things we had experienced – not everything, but a lot. And maybe there’s a part in them that don’t really want to.
Their identity becomes whom they are with their experiences trapped in the past, and they have no clue about their identity without those stories.
Throughout my life, I have met quite some people whose identity resolves completely around being a victim of whatever daily situation. At first, I wasn’t fully aware of it and it dragged me into their vicious circle of pessimism. It was exhausting to be around them and even harder to get away from them. And the thing about being a victim is that it doesn’t end there. Hatred is chasing and will catch up soon enough.
According to Robert W. Firestone, Ph.D., psychologist and author, one of the principle ways that people mismanage their anger is by playing the role of victim. He further explained that many people adopt the victim role, although unintentionally, because they are afraid of their anger and deny its existence in themselves. So, they project it onto other people and anticipate aggression or harm from them.
Child’s Way Of Thinking
People who get caught up in feeling victimised tend to view events in their lives as happening to them and feel unsuccessful and overwhelmed. In addition, they operate on the basic assumption that the world should be fair, which is a child’s way of thinking. They project the circumstances of their childhood, where they were helpless, onto present situations and relationships, and fail to recognise as adults, that they have far more power than they had as children.
Robert W. Firestone mentioned that there are methods to move from the victimised attitude driven by negative powered behaviour, to a more positive and personal powered behaviour. People can learn to become self-aware of and identify negative inner voices that promote victimised feelings. This allows them to take steps to develop more positive approaches to dealing with their anger.
Identifying Negative Inner Voices
To move out of the victimised position, one needs to identify negative inner voices that focus on injustices, such as: “It’s not fair, or this shouldn’t be happening to me. What did I ever do to deserve such treatment?” These destructive thoughts promote inaction paired with helplessness and at the same time discourages actions that could change a dire situation.
Inferior anger and distrust are stimulated in people whenever they are listening to voices telling them that others dislike them or do not care about them or their interests. “They never take my feelings into consideration. Who do they think they are? People just don’t give a damn.”
In the work setting, many people have resentful attitudes based on voices telling them that they are being exploited: “My boss is a real jerk! Nobody sees how much I contribute. No one appreciates me. Why do they always get all the breaks?”
In the same way, voices that instruct individuals that they are victims of abuse by others contribute to feelings of being disrespected, for example: “They’re going to make a fool of me. They don’t respect me.” The feelings generated by these ruminations lead to inward threatening, righteous outrage, and a desire for revenge. Recognising and challenging negative voices is the major way to overcome a victimized orientation.
Firstly, anger is a simple and illogical emotional response to frustration. A justification is not needed, it is okay to just feel whatever one feels. When people try to explain their anger and then feel victimised, they tend to get stuck in the angry feelings that lead to unpleasantness and distance others.
Therefore, in terms of action, it is suggested that people remove words from their vocabulary that they may be used to justify their anger, words like “fair,” “should,” “right,” “wrong,” “good,” and “bad.” In a relationship, the term “should” often implies obligation. For example: “Because we’re married, my partner ‘should’ love me, ‘should’ take care of me, ‘should’ make love to me, ‘should’ think of me.” Someone who says this is operating from a victimised position.
By challenging these speaking habits, people will discover a different form of communication that includes taking full responsibility for their feelings and actions, and yet leaves them free to explore alternatives.
It is key to stop and become more aware of asking for or giving sympathy. Expressing sympathy as well as trying to provoke sympathetic responses from another person are damaging, because both reinforce victimised thinking.
By accepting angry emotions in oneself, one is less likely to take harmful actions or to adopt the role of victim. In an ideal world, rather than holding in or reject angry emotions, one would acknowledge anger while clearly distinguishing between feelings and actions.
As people give up on their victimised attitudes, they learn to accept anger as a basic part of their nature – they can choose how to express angry feelings in ways that are positive, moral, and aligned with their best interests and goals. The self‑limiting, victimised perspective neither controls them nor their lives any longer.
- Are you wearing a victim label?
- What is your underlying issue?
- Are you challenging you negative inner voices?
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