Playing The Victim
When I was 90% certain I could no longer ignore my health and well-being because of it’s negative impact on my career, relationships and happiness, that remaining 10% really tried to pull me back into the cozy warmth of comfort.
It didn’t matter that I had a terrible relationship with food and my body; that I was lacking energy and focus; ; that I had no confidence; or that I was skipping sleep.. It still felt way more comfortable to stay stuck in being “fine” rather than to do anything about it.
I was afraid.
Afraid of what I would learn about myself (that I had been ignoring for years), and afraid to fully show up and be emotionally vulnerable. I feared the hard work, the potential judgement, and what would be on the other side. Perhaps failure? Success?
And so I gave in to the excuses that all those fears hide behind, and instead of getting self-aware I just moved through life on auto-pilot and let my primitive brain control me.
Sound at all familiar?
There are many ways fear (and perfectionism) show up when the brain starts to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable: the ones I see most often are distraction, victim mentality and perceived obligations. Today I want to focus on victim mentality!
Are you getting uncomfortable yet? While we don’t want to admit we’ve played the victim - everyone does.
And the question I want you to ask yourself after reading this is : What is the false payoff I get from playing the victim?
This shows up when you hear yourself say things like, “I can’t” or “I would but...”
Back when I was resisting doing the work to change my habits and mindset so I could actually perform better in my career, I actually used my career as the excuse. (Which is pretty damn common.)
I was such a victim.
Within the organization I worked for, I had two big roles and I had a side hustle. I totally played the victim to the circumstance. I’d hear myself say things like…
I can’t take care of myself when I have to work long hours…
I can’t take time off for self-care or a vacation because things will fall apart if I’m not here…
I need to be accessible in case someone needs me…
Bleh. Thinking back to that now, the false reward I got from that was...I felt important.
My value was so wrapped up in achievement and being needed, that continuing to feed that behavior and play the overworked, driven career woman provided me that reward. I got attention, people felt bad for me, and it gave me an excuse to not do the work I needed to do on myself.
The truth is, I could have done something about it but I didn’t.. When I finally woke up, I learned that actually prioritizing myself and doing the things that scared me would have delivered a much greater reward.
These days I can find myself playing the victim as a single mom. I don’t do it often, but when I do I cringe and quickly correct the thought process. The false payoff for me? I’d say that by playing the “single mom” card, I can validate my failure to stick to healthy habits or dare I say - not wash my hair for a few days? It validates my inability to show up my best and of course, like any victim role I get attention.
There’s no power in playing the victim and it certainly doesn’t get us to that next level we are meant to reach. There is ALWAYS a way and we have the power to make that choice by changing the narrative.
You might think about your own circumstances and be able to pinpoint what your default is when it comes to playing the victim card. Maybe you claim you’re “too old” or you have to take care of an ailing parent, or your boss is demanding, or you have 5 kids, or...
You get the point.
This behavior comes up when we feel the fear of doing the work to change. Whether it’s to improve your health and well-being, start or finish a big project, go after a big fitness goal, or dive into the dating scene this will come up!
So, once you’ve determined what the stories you tell yourself are, take the time to identify why you cling to it. What’s the false payoff to using that as part of your identity?
Get honest with yourself around this one. You aren’t meant to just survive, to stay stagnant, to settle for what you’ve got. You’re meant to grow and thrive and feel your best - to reach your fullest potential so you can inspire and help others in your path.
Staying unhealthy, not implementing the habits or not taking the time for yourself is totally rooted in fear.
It’s normal to feel afraid of an interpretation (in your own mind) of the possible outcomes and the feelings you might experience.
But remember this: you create your own reality.
Push past the resistance and acknowledge that those false rewards you get from playing the victim are not as good as the reward of making positive change in your life. Start by creating a new narrative in your head that puts you back in the drivers seat of your life.