Taking responsibility for our lives and our relationships can be uncomfortable. Playing the victim is a way to cop out and put the blame elsewhere, but it leaves us feeling powerless to do anything. If we are a victim we don’t have to feel bad that we have made the choices that led us here and we get to keep on doing it because it’s not our fault. If you can look at your life and take responsibility at the deepest level, you are free. It sounds great in theory right? Well, here’s how to do it.
People playing the victim want to punish themselves and be coddled for their pain instead of take new action, remaining a slave to their circumstances. They attach to a negative feeling to an outside event and rather then letting it pass through, then punish themselves with it repeatedly, perpetuating the cycle of victimhood. They say “Look at how bad I feel” and give away their power to ‘Persecutors’ to get angry and attack them and other ‘Rescuers’ to feel sorry and save them.
The movies show us countless stories of victims, rescuers, and persecutors playing out their stories in dysfunctional and codependent manners. If this is our main model of relationships we are in trouble. Being a victim is so common among lovers and single people looking for relationships that it’s just the way people think it is! Let’s examine the characteristics of the 3 aspects of the victim triangle.
Feel oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed
Look for a Rescuer to “help” or save them
Block themselves from making decisions, solving problems, or gaining self-understanding
The world is happening TO them and they are defenseless against it
Voices: you’re/they’re doing this to me, I can’t do it, they made me
Maintain control through “helping”, “advising”, “fixing” and “care taking”
Need someone to rescue (victim) in order to feel vital and important
Their power lies in keeping the victim dependent
Enable others so they can step in and do it
Voices: Only I can do it, I’ll do it for you, if I keep doing this for them they will have to do it for me too
Is angry, critical, aggressive, and blaming
Feel they have to attack others to protect themselves
Punish others because they deserved it
Learned early on to become tough in the face of their own fear
Voices: They deserved it, I don’t give a damn, I can’t let them get away with it
When you empower a victim to see their choices and to take action on those choices they become a creator. Under every complaint is something the victim wants to do instead, there’s a desire to be different in their situation. In every victim point of view is tremendous power that is being misdirected into their story. If they can begin to point this energy toward a life vision they are extremely powerful. With all of this potential, fortunately there are two other valuable roles to develop to carry out the vision.
The empowerment triangle: The Victim becomes the Creator, the Rescuer becomes the Coach, and the Persecutor becomes the Challenger
The Coach provides emotional support and guidance for the creator to do it themselves. They are there to listen to feelings and help you move forward from a place of empowering you in your own life. Unlike their hero cousin the Rescuer, they are not there to take away your pain and cripple you with their ‘help’. A coach is loving and encouraging. They troubleshoot issues and work with you on refining your vision. They believe in you.
The Challenger makes it happen. They are all action baby. When you need a loving kick in the ass, you need to employ your challenger. They don’t care about how you feel, they care that you want something, have a plan that you’re executing. Excuse, what’s and excuse? Unlike their villain cousin the Persecutor they do not blame or punish you for not living up to their standard. If the Coach is soft and fluffy the Challenger is precise and directed, bold and passionate about making your vision a reality.
*We all play all three roles at different times. We have a dominant role and a role we could strengthen within ourselves.
Helpful questions I ask my clients when they feel like they have no power in a relationship.
Am I whining and not doing anything about it? I’m being a victim, what do I want to create? Am I coddling and enabling myself or someone else? I’m being a rescuer, how can I empower self-love? Am I blaming or punishing myself or someone else? I’m being a persecutor, how can I execute right action?
With the Creator, the Challenger and the Coach you can empower yourself or someone else in any situation. I use this model for myself and in my relationship all the time. I know that if my attitude is someone else’s fault that I have given them my power and I immediately get off the triangle of victimhood into creation.