My interest in personal development really took off once I realized that to a large degree I was creating my own reality. This understanding completely blew my cover: I couldn’t carry on blaming anybody any more: parents, ex-husband, boss, traffic wardens, builders……etc (in extremis I even used to blame the weather). Once realization set in it didn’t take long to get to grips with the fact that each and every time it was someone else’s fault I gave away my own power to change things. If my father was really to blame for my low self-esteem then this meant I had no hope of becoming confident unless he changed in some way. Similarly, if my ex-husband was responsible for my inability to trust men then I had absolutely no chance of ever having another relationship. I only came to terms with my addiction to playing the victim when my first marriage ended and I was living with my two toddlers (then 3 and 1). The choice was stark: to keep complaining and blaming (indulging in victim consciousness) or to change my whole approach and get a life. I have to say that I didn’t change overnight; it took some real effort as there were many negative patterns that I was wedded to. But as I read and understood more about the power of positive thinking, emotional intelligence and assertive action I became hooked on self-help instead! And of course this passion of mine developed into a lifelong interest and a fabulous career – who would have guessed it? So, if you are indulging in any victim like behaviour and don’t want to do this any more, I can promise you that you can change; because if I can do it then so can you.
Of course there are reasons why you fall into the state of mind called victim consciousness. At first glance it might seem attractive to hand over the responsibility for your happiness to someone else; you can blame ‘them’ and remain unaccountable for whatever happens in your life. But why would you want to do this? Why is this sometimes such an appealing option? There are a number of possible explanations for this. It might be because you feel afraid to stand up for yourself or that you want people to like you or that you are just too low to take any initiative. Don’t be too hard on yourself here; we all know what it is like to behave like a victim. When we are severely challenged we are all inclined to become defensive and blaming, it is a natural response. Here we are just acknowledging the two types of behaviour in order that you can check out your present status and discover how to step out of victim mode and into winning mode.
How would you describe yourself right now? Are you ‘making things happen’ (proactive) or do you feel like ‘things are just happening’ to you (reactive)? If you are being proactive then you are assertive, confident, resourceful and high in self-esteem. And if you are being reactive then you have given away your power to other people; you are a victim of the actions of others and will be low in self-esteem. But remember, you can change this behaviour!
Quick Quiz How assertive are you?
Check out your behaviour status by answering the following questions.
1 Does your family ever take you for granted?
2 Do you do more than your share of the domestic work?
3 Would you like more time just for yourself?
4 Is it hard to say ‘no’ to family members?
5 Do you ever buy clothes and hide them from your partner?
6 Does your job interest you?
7 Are your colleagues appreciative and supportive?
8 Do you always work late when asked, even if you don’t want to?
9 Are you able to express your opinions if you disagree with your boss.
10 Would you like to work somewhere else?
11 Do you often compare yourself with others?
12 You have achieved a success and someone compliments you.
Are you able to accept this gracefully or do you brush it off?
13 Do you often feel intimidated when you meet new people?
14 Would you like to be more relaxed with others?
15 Do you ever find yourself apologizing for your behaviour?
In a relationship
16 Does your partner make you feel good about yourself?
17 If ‘yes’ how does he do this? If ‘no’ how does he do this?
18 Do you have any shared goals?
19 Are you waiting for him to change?
20 Do you still fancy him? If ‘no’ why are you with him?
Out in the world
21 You reserve a table at a restaurant and find it is at the back near the door to the kitchen? Do you ask to be moved?
22 A pair of shoes split a month after you bought them, would you take them back? Would you feel anxious if you did?
23 Your think that your child is being bullied at school, would you investigate further? Would you ever make a complaint?
24 You are on a diet and friends try to persuade you to eat fish and chips with them. What do you do?
25 Your partner is over the limit but insists on driving. Do you let him, call a taxi or insist that you drive?
Consider the implications of your answers. Notice the situations where you find it easy to stand up for yourself and those where you don’t. Where are you most susceptible to letting others walk all over you?
Copyright © Lynda Field 2015
Extracted from my latest book, The Self-Esteem Coach.