I love this statement and although many of us think like this, when something happens to us it is the first place we go: why is this happening to me? what did I do to deserve this? Victim mentality is so common that it sneaks upon on you without even noticing it. The key is to snap out of it by realizing you can do something about it. The ‘how do I change this’ mentality is a great antidote to the helplessness of victimhood.
When my ex husband told me he wanted to separate, my whole world fell apart. For two main reasons. One, because I had not seen it coming at all, and second because it became obvious that while I was building a home for us, he was thinking of a different life that didn’t include me or any of the plans we had made as a couple. How did that happen to ME? What did I do to deserve this? But after some months of starting a new routine with the kids and looking to move to my own place, I realized that I had the chance to start anew. Whatever wasn’t working before, was being left behind and even we had the opportunity to now be parents of the same kids without having to make it work as a couple. And the more I was planning the rest of my life, the more I could see the possibilities and feel excited again about my life.
In the exact moment when I was being the victim of someone that was leaving me and had betrayed me, I realized I could choose to see it all as a new beginning. This made me curious to know how is it that some people can actually shift from being a victim to being someone in a new path that can choose to change the life they’re in.
I found out that there is a very interesting relationship triangle defined by Stephen B. Karpman as the drama triangle. It can be applied to many power relationships and it’s really hard to break to free the victim. The triangle is formed by the victim, the abuser and the rescuer. So when the abuser X does something wrong to the victim W, then X feels bad and comes to rescue the victim W, transforming into the rescuer and the victim feels like she caused the situation so W feels bad for the abuser X making X the victim, and the triangle goes on and on forever. But, not forever. The trick to get out of the drama triangle is to enter the empowerment triangle. It starts by realizing that you can interpret the world and what happens to you in many creative ways.
One way to reinterpret the drama triangle is how David Emerald proposes to break the drama triangle by using the ’empowerment dynamic’. In his new configuration, the abuser is now the challenger, the victim is now the creator and the rescuer is the coach, asking questions to help the creator. So it would go something like this. The challenger forces the creator to confront a difficult event, the coach comes to the creator and asks ‘how can you do something to get out of this situation?’, and the creator realizes that she can rise to the challenge and find a way out in a creative way. I love this new perspective of the triangle and how by changing our interpretation of the world we can better ourselves and find creative solutions, thus giving us back our agency and autonomy of thought and feeling.
Another way of breaking out of victimhood is to find the purpose in your life. What gives meaning to your existence? When you’re able to see the big picture and how you play an important role in the world, you realize that nobody can make you feel less. Asking yourself these big questions is not for everybody, but you can start small. Think about your day before starting it and ask yourself what is you purpose for today, and little by little you can tie things together and find a bigger purpose.
Right after my divorce, my goal was to help my kids suffer as little as possible and to start our new life with stability and love. One day at a time is the best we can do it, any of us can do it. But like I said before, as soon as we go down the victim mentality it becomes harder to see how we can change things around. Be aware of your mindset when a problem comes up or your ex tries to make you feel powerless. You are not powerless, you can choose how you react and act in your life.