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Staying the Victim

Last week I talked about playing a victim, and that seemed to resonate with a few of you. I’ve been thinking about it in my life as well and I’m wondering ‘why did I stay in the victim role for so long?’ I know it’s not good for me, that it took me out of great opportunities, so why did I stay there for so many years? Why did I feel powerless to create something different?

Besides being unaware that I had a choice, this was really about the payoffs. How did it actually serve me to keep playing the victim? If I’m being really honest, playing the victim got me some attention and it got people to feel sorry for me a little bit and feel like they had to help me. And there’s comfort in that. There’s safety in that. There’s validation in that. I got a bit of a pass, getting me out of doing the hard things. I didn’t have to be accountable, because ‘there’s nothing I can do’. I really for a time did believe I was helpless; when I got others to believe that too, I was off the hook. And being a single parent who’d lost her sister and was struggling to keep up, that was pretty seductive.

I’m not saying I was consciously aware of all this going on, but as I look back I can see it all very clearly.

I got to stay stuck in that victim state. Maybe I even found my victim state easier than doing the hard work to fix it. Because that alternative involved risk; risks I didn’t want to or didn’t believe I could take. There was a type of safety in the known.

This stuff is pervasive and persuasive. I see it all the time when I’m coaching and someone won’t go for that promotion, step into a relationship, have the difficult conversation…better to stay safe, they reason. But when we continue to play the victim, it costs us that potential upside, but it also costs people around us, because they don’t get to experience the courageous person we could be. Nothing gets better when we stay small.

I’m committed to guarding against this ONE thing of playing a victim. And doing that has made me realize how often I’m tempted to do it. What about you? Is there ONE place where you playing the victim is taking you out of the game?

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