Eight Steps to Becoming a Badass Survivor: Dropping the Pain and Victim Mentality
Sometimes, life sucks. Life is unfair. People die on us, abandon us, assault us, discriminate or offend, I trust this is not a revelation to you, and if any of the previous or worse are your story, I’m sorry. But, I’m going to come out and say what you need to hear to turn around that victim mentality and show you how to survive like a boss.
How we handle our response to challenges is a major source of power in our lives, and truly one of the few things you can actually control. Cultivating a range of healthy adaptive responses to difficulty is a truly life-enhancing skill, chief among them is learning to forgive and let go. In my clinical experience, from watching people let go of hurt feelings towards others, I value this as being one of the most crucial steps preceding the obtainment of long-term goals. Forgiveness creates a vacuum for more positive emotions and experiences to enter. Here are eight processes you can use today to help take you from victim mentality to crushing it as a survivor.
#1 Drop the Blame.
Why do you need to stop blaming my problem on someone/something else? Blaming your circumstances on external factors signifies an inability to detach from the role of “victim.” This also means you allow yourself to be disempowered by externals, if you don’t take responsibility for the problem you have no power. Your projecting blame causes you to wallow in that despair, this only perpetuates negative emotional responses.
People can easily hold onto righteous anger or disappointment for decades. All this does is prevent you from flourishing and claiming your power over how you respond to your life. Releasing blame means releasing the negative emotions by proxy, and empowers you.
There's a tendency within humanity to say that if someone does the “wrong” thing (and wrong is a subjective term BTW) you need to not accept it, discipline them, teach them a lesson, or even just hold onto the grudge because it sends the message that you were in the right (and dont’ we love to be right?) We keep the story going for as long as we hold the grudge. When we drop the grudge, we create a vacuum of space in our minds and naturally gravitate toward happier emotions. Blame and despair are the real enemies. They are the actual thief of your joy.
It is not your job to condemn the bad guy, this is also evidenced by your body’s response to grudges.
Emerging science on the impact of negative emotions on the body is beginning to prove what Traditional Chinese Medics have been saying for 5000 years. Emotions are the primary cause of all physical disease and imbalance. People can harm themselves with debilitating emotional patterns for decades, blocking their flow of energy, producing excessive cortisol, switching off the creative problem solving part of the brain, damaging organs, overloading adrenals and preventing positive emotions to reside within their minds and bodies. When we can’t let go of our precious victimhood, this energy stagnates in our bodies and creates illness and disharmony.
When we are emotional, we are in fight or flight, this switches off our rest and digest functions. We become defensive, decline positive opportunities and prevent positive growth. Your body is practically screaming at you to stop hurting yourself. Drop the blame.
Exercise: Drop the blame. Get out a pen and paper, ask yourself:
“How has this problem served you?” (and it has) List all the possible positive ramifications which this problem could have, if this is your first time doing this, you might be oddly surprised. Eg. If my parents hadn’t been drug-addicts I never would have lived on The Amalfi Coast with my beautiful Grandmother, who I love.
“How has this grudge served you?” (and it hasn’t) Grudges are a natural protective mechanism, but they are generally not essential to protecting yourself, beyond the immediate event. You can focus rationally without the need to hold pain. For example, rationally you may take out an AVO on an abuser and deliberately distance yourself from them, but after that, holding onto the emotional impact of the event tends to hold you back. I commonly see people in my clinic suffering adrenal burn-out because the opportunity to react to a problem is long in the past, but they have not stopped worrying about the issue. Our emotions activate our adrenal stress response and we can wear ourselves down with worry. Change it or accept it as soon as possible.
If you need to, get an objective insight. Once you’re distressed, everything becomes catastophised. Once you are clear, set a boundary through decisive action that says you are willing to do whatever it takes to conserve your energy, because you take responsibility for your own happiness. Protect yourself, then drop the blame and treat the other person with compassion.
#2 Stop Labelling it as a Disaster.
If you think about anything in life, there’s never a “problem” unless someone's feelings are hurt (and remember feelings, thoughts emotions and beliefs are not always grounded in truth.) One person's perception of reality, is not necessarily true, so there is a chance it's not all doom and gloom.
There’s an old spiritual concept that we all agreed to come to earth to act out the roles in life that we are currently engaged in. Now, even if you don’t know this to be true, (Hey, who REALLY knows?) the important thing to ask ourselves about our beliefs is not always “Is it true?” But, “Does it serve me to believe this?” I know that the concept that it’s all part of a plan allows me to feel optimistic, it drives me to look for the blessings in the darkest times, to trust when it seems unreasonable to have hope, so I have adopted it, you may like to, also.
#3 Salvage What’s Left and Make Peace.
Did it kill you? No. Then there’s still something to be grateful for. A survivor makes peace with the situation as gently as possible, and makes the most of the resources they still have after a disaster. They don’t dwell on what they lost because they know blame and despair are their real enemies. Be grateful by reflecting on all that you still have. You waste the resources still available to you when you focus solely on the problem, or what is lost. There’s no time for dwelling on the past when you’re living your best life, the more headspace you give to negative thoughts and past experiences, the less you have available to invest in fully enjoying the present.
Exercise. Get out a pen and paper:
List all of the resources that you still have available. Be grateful for what you still have to carry you through. You cannot be appreciative and a victim at the same time.
Use this journaling prompt: “Perhaps if before I came to Earth I decided it was a good idea to have this experience, it ultimately would be because…”
#4 Heal Your Pain
The aspect of ourselves that feel too traumatic to really process get buried and come out later in surprising ways. Like my fave Comedian Iliza Shlesinger once quipped:
“He broke up with me over breakfast, so now I don’t drink milk.”
Old pain has a funny way of rearing its head around things which mimic the original trauma. While sometimes absurd, it still rings a little too true.
We project our fears onto current events until we heal the original trauma. We subconsciously help to co-create as many of these mimicking situations as we need to, until it’s resolved and can be let go. Like groundhog day, trauma creates behavioural patterns or more accurately, behaviour loops. Once you heal the pain, and find the response that works, you can create new, more rewarding patterns.
Seek professional help wherever necessary. Kinesiology can help.
Exercise. Tapping to Heal the Pain. Make a date with yourself and set yourself up in a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed.
Place one hand on your forehead, then with the other hand, tap just below the collarbones left and right an inch out from the midline, on the Kidney 27 Meridian points which are pictured above, your first two fingers on one side, your thumb on the other. Recall the trauma you wish to heal as vividly as possible. What could you see, hear, what was around you, what could you taste? Allow any emotions to surface as you tap and breathe deeply. Recognise your emotion. Identify your emotion. Acknowledge it as you tap for 1-3 mins and just accepting, like, yes, that was what I felt. Just acknowledging your emotions, like, yes, those were my emotions, and letting them be, letting them dissolve as you tap. Repeat until your feelings subside. Calmly wait for peace to return. Identify, “What positive emotions is that negative emotion preventing from entering? If I let go of that negative emotion, what positive emotion will fill my life?”
State: “I now choose to release ________ (negative emotion) in exchange for ________ (positive emotion.)"
Stop tapping and relax when you feel relief.
#5. Let Go Of the Victimhood
Yep, that means no more pity party. No more constantly referencing your lousy dad when you lose your shit at hubby. Disassociate from the victim, instead, offer the value of the experience, what it taught you. this enables you to take charge and responsibility for your life experiences. This is the end part of the healing process.