Awhile back, I noticed a pattern that was occurring in my relationships – both personal and business. It would play out like this: I would connect with someone less than kind, pretend I didn’t notice their unkindness, then get all wounded and indignant when they did something mean to me.
The last time it happened, I was participating in a business coaching group and decided that since being all twisted up with this drama was reducing my productivity, it was on-topic for the group. The coach who was leading the group first identified that this was indeed a pattern for me. She asked me for several examples, which sadly I was able to give generously, going back years and years.
My coach pointed out, and I reiterate for my dear readers here, if something is a repeating pattern in your life, there is a good chance that you are doing something to attract this to you. Until you identify and clear it, it is likely to persist.
Then it went something like this:
Coach: So Emily, what are you getting out of this situation?
Me: Frustration, pain, sadness.
Coach: Could there be anything positive you are getting out of it?
Me: I guess it enables me to be distracted and procrastinate my work.
Coach: OK, maybe, but could there be something else? Who do you get to be when this happens to you?
Right away, without even thinking, these words came out of my mouth:
Me: The righteously wronged victim. I get to be the righteously wronged victim.
Coach: So how is it to be the righteously wronged victim?
Me: Well, I thought it was good. I liked being righteous and a victim. But now that I think about it, I HATE it! What a stupid thing to be! The people who “victimize” me just go on, unperturbed, happy with their lives, and I am the one sitting here, wasting time, stewing in my pain. Really, this is pretty much the dumbest and most unproductive thing I have ever done. Ding!
My coach warned the whole group that while being aware of the pattern we are attracting is the first step to changing it, we must completely disconnect from this old pattern. If we are attached to it even 1%, we will fall right back into it out of familiarity and comfort. I did NOT want that, so I committed 100% to divorcing myself from this pattern I have been practicing for about 40 years. Yes, 40 years. My parents are reading this and thinking it has taken me an awfully long time to figure out for myself what they were telling me all along.
Over the course of the next few weeks, several “tests” arose (as they often do when you have made an advancement in your growth). Thanks to this article on victim mentality, I was able to identify right away if I was entering righteous victim mode and immediately change course.
Guess what happened when I stopped engaging in this behavior pattern? Well, you would not believe it if I told you! For starters, all those drama mamas, they just vanished like smoke. Move along people, nothing to see here, no drama to feed on. Suddenly the people who were contacting me to book appointments were totally different than the people I had previously been working with! They are responsible for their own work, they have good boundaries, they are kind. And the other folks? Miraculously I watched as they removed themselves from my practice.
My personal relationships have mirrored what is happening with my business relationships. Do you have any idea how much more time and energy you have every day when you are not tangled up in massive efforts to defend your poor victim self and try to make everyone feel so, so sorry for you?
Now, everywhere I look, I see OTHER people playing the righteous victim role. Now that I can see what they are doing, I can choose to not play the game. All those online arguments, comment wars and facebook foibles? Done, gone, vanished, unfollowed, disconnected… Turns out that not having the last word in every argument to prove how you have been WRONGED-oh-woe-is-me! is quite liberating.
Recently for example, there have been protests about how women can pray at the Western Wall and groups and counter-groups have sprung up. When you read their editorials and replies back and forth, you see both sides saying “WE are the ones being wronged here! WE are the innocent victims of your group!” Both sides. Each claiming righteous victimhood. Everyone stuck and trapped and making no progress.
Look at almost any stale-mated argument (and yes, I can see the Middle East peace process through these eyes too) and you will see two sides both jockeying for righteous victimhood.
Being the righteous victim is a place of stagnancy and no forward progress. It sucks all the creativity and energy right out of us! Who the heck cares if you are so righteously wronged? Who WANTS to be the idiot who lets nasty people wipe their dirty feet all over the place?
The great news is that you don’t have to play along! Be a creator, not a victim. Again, more helpful details in this article HERE.