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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Sometimes, we perpetuate the victim because we want for a third party to hear us and understand why we are triggered and validate that it was wrong, until we have fully healed. There’s something comforting in knowing that the person you are confiding in also condemns the behavior of the other person and would never do something like that to you on purpose. While we may want to rely on others like our spouses to comfort and protect us, the responsibility may be best handled on our own or with professional assistance, in the long term. Use self disclosure to discern who you wish to share your story with. It’s a bit like asking them to take responsibility for your happiness. It’s OK to communicate what is going on in your head and communicate your wants or preferences, but, you need to be detached from the outcome, as they may not know how to meet all of your needs. You may be best off recruiting the help of a professional until you’re ready to let it go.

A Victim Elicits Sympathy

A Survivor Inspires Courage and Respect

#6. Write Your Own Ending.

Every good story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Through managing your storytelling process, we invite the past event to come to a close by writing the best ending we can manage. We draw upon our current reality to decide what we are taking away from the event, and we move forward in a way that compliments who we truly wish to be. By the way, Managing your story doesn’t mean writing it from an angle that makes you look innocent, necessarily, either. Everybody makes mistakes. If you’re ever going to learn from mistakes you have to admit them and make amends. Forgiving yourself might be a major component in this exercise. A true survivor has humility and confronts their own shortcomings, with self compassion.

  1. Beginning. This is the event. You know what this pertains to, try to tell this as objectively, and using as few words as possible. Stick to facts, rather than hunches or opinions. Eg. “after we slept together he didn’t ring me for three days, and he had been making daily effort to ring me before that” rather than “He lost interest after he got what he wanted.”

  2. Middle. What was your first response? What responses worked? What responses didn’t work? What responses that didn’t work are you ready to learn from and let go of? What you have learned from this? If this was a spiritual journey which you facilitated for your own positive ends, it served you by...? List down any important lessons from this event. All the possible impacts of the situation as you can. (fantasy is OK here, too) For example. “She cheated on me and we broke up, but, I have the opportunity to meet someone new now, who does want kids. I am so grateful that I get another chance to be a dad.” List down any possible blessings in disguise of this event. List down anything you can be grateful for.

  3. End. Ask yourself: Who do you truly want to be in the wake of this event? What would somebody I truly admire do? What steps are you able to take toward being that person? What good can you take away from this experience? What positive skills or personality traits has it cultivated? What resources do I still have to be grateful for? What you are looking forward to doing/being/having? What are you choosing to create in your future?

  4. Create a brand new chapter. Find actions or objects which symbolise this new future story. For example if in step C. above you decided you wanted to value yourself more in relationships you might end up buying yourself a piece of Jewellery like you think a partner would, If you decided you wish to be more independent plan a solo overseas vacation. If you are wanting to forget insults then delete text message threads. Even if its a tiny action or symbolic gesture it lets the whole universe know that you’re serious about shifting gears from victim to survivor, and you’re ready to be happy, again. It reminds you of your intention and helps you see yourself as that person.

In the retelling, focus your attention on the end and the new beginning. Through retelling the ending of your story you focus on the good, you close the story and you write a brand new beginning! Focus on the end and the beginning of the new story. Release the energy of fighting the old. Put that energy into building the new.

#7 Forgive. For Real.

It is not your responsibility to set standards for others to live by. Forget if you have to. Get clear about what you hope for the future and give time to the ones who show up in a way that is in integrity, but, understand that it’s nobody's responsibility to give it to you on a silver platter.

If you absolutely have to cut someone damaging out of your life then do it, it is OK. Ultimately it’s OK to let people go. But, you may wish to try a bit of space at first and see how it goes. You may realise later that was your emotions running your head, and you would have ultimately preferred to have been forgiving and gracious.

Exercise: Try the Hawaiian healing practice of Ho’oponopono.

What if we create our own Universe as we go along? Does that mean we created the other person? The Hawaiians seem to think so, and this very simple practice has been used quite successfully by one Psychologist: Dr Ihaleakala Hew Len (an expert in the spiritual practice) to rehabilitate numerous people with serious criminal insanity. The process is very simple.

Think of who you want to forgive: in your minds eye say to them:

I’m Sorry (for the part in me that created this part in you/for the part of me which sees you as bad)

Please forgive me

I Forgive You

I Love you

Thank You

Repeat as many time as you have to. Make it your mantra if you need to! This can also be used to heal others. What if the way we expect people to turn determines the way they turn up? We filter and distort all the data we receive about people based on what we believe about them. Release your conceptions about them and you free both of you up to create more healthy dynamics.

#8 Letting Go.

You need to let go of the expectations you have on others. Expectation often leads to disappointment. You need to let go of the negative emotions, too. If you move through life holding resentment and grudges you block your energy, limit your potential and experience unhappy emotions. By letting go of painful emotions or memories, you release yourself of a burden which no longer serves you and free up your energy to create anew. There’s a law referred to as the law of vacuum. If we want new toys we need to clean our rooms (that is to let go of what is holding us back and make space.) A beneficial aside of this article is that whilst managing your story and changing your relationship with yourself to a more empowered identity, is that in LOA the experts say that It is so important to forgive and let go of the old before you are hoping to manifest anything positive in your life. If you are struggling to make a certain dream come true, I would hazard a guess that you have something or someone to heal, forgive and let go of.

Letting Go of Others

If somebody wants to leave your life, you absolutely have to let them go. I’m sorry if this hurts. It doesn’t mean you’re broken, or that either of you are wrong. Relationships run their course when we evolve. It’s OK to let people go. What we hold onto beyond its used by date decays us. A very large piece of the evolution of your spirit is to learn to forgive, to love, and let go. Life runs in cycles of boom and bust, make peace with every transition. Thanks to all those who have shown up so that you could learn this great lesson. Have faith that you’ll love again, you’ll be happy again, etc.

Exercise: Letting Go points.

Hold firm pressure on the Lung 1 acupuncture point as pictured above left and right.

These points are used widely in Emotional Acupressure. They are used to relieve breathing problems, chest pain or congestion, skin disorders, to open the spirit, release anxiety, held or repressed emotions, ease expectations, depression, grief, loss, sadness, anger and disappointment.

Hold with two fingers with firm pressure and breathe deeply.

Identify any feeling, person, job etc. that you need to release. Internally, or aloud repeat any of the following affirmations which feel relevant to your situation:

As I breathe deeply I am letting go of this pain

I trust that I am being taken care of as I let go of what I loved

I am at peace in the present moment

I let go of my expectations

It is safe to let go

I am safe and I trust that I am being taken care of

I am safe and I let go of what the future may hold

I open my heart to love and the joys of life

I release my heartache and make space for joy

I have faith in the future

I am thankful for all I have

Summary: Moving from victim to survivor mode. Drop the blame. Disassociate from the victim by offering the value of the experience, what it taught you. Take charge and responsibility for your life experiences. Heal your Trauma, seek a professional if necessary. In the long term victim mentality hampers your health stops you from growing and blocks the law of attraction from bringing you positive experiences. When you are discussing your past: frame it as a teaching opportunity. A chance to reflect. Offer the value you derived from the past experience. Use the opportunity to discuss what it taught you/how it served you or redirected you. How you oriented yourself with that experience and what your survival process was that eventually worked. Practice your mindset around your story. Focus on the end, the lessons and your fresh start. When you blame people or try to make them feel guilty you’re in victim mode, and you are activating that vibration of lack and disempowerment, you are activating your fight or flight response which is only good for protection, not for setting off toward positive new experiences. Manage your story. Accept yourself for the role you played in your difficulties with humility. A survivor acknowledges that it was a spiritual journey which they themselves facilitated for their own positive ends, expansion, learning, a spiritual journey.

Enjoy putting this information into practice! You ARE a survivor. Whether it happens gradually or all of a sudden, remember that all happens in it’s right timing, so do your best, be compassionate with yourself and patient with the process.

-In awe of your inner strength.

Erin Ricketts. x