Being a victim is a relatively common fear. No one wants to be in a situation where they’re helpless and dependent on another person. We all spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince ourselves, and those around us, that we’re too strong to be “a victim.” But, at a certain point, we discover the advantage to being the victim. This advantage is hinged on our inherent survival skills.
Carl Jung believed that each person had a variety of personality traits, or archetypes, and that each trait possessed a light and dark side. In my practice, I’ve discovered that each person has a bit of a victim trait hidden away inside them, teetering on a positive or negative outcome. For example, a positive characteristic is when our victim senses alert us to potential danger that’s headed our way. We then may start paying attention to our surroundings or understanding people’s motives. However, there are those who use it for darkness and will “play the victim” for sympathy or personal gain. Remember when we were children and used to pretend we were sick so we could miss school? It’s just like that.
Taking on the role of a victim could begin rather simply; maybe you’re afraid of standing up for yourself, or enjoy receiving sympathy. It typically doesn’t start off in a toxic form. However, the core issue the victim encounters is whether it’s worth giving up your own sense of empowerment to avoid taking responsibility for your life.
When Your Identity Becomes “The Victim”
A very sick woman I used to work with got incredibly raw with me one day. She described the benefits of being ill: “People love you more, do things for you, and I was most happy about getting a break from work! I finally got a break in life.”
Well, kind of, right? In that moment, my perspective on illness was expanded. Another example presented itself through a client who was a breast cancer survivor. She periodically found herself “going through” old cards and memories when she had received while in the hospital. She told me, “You know Gina, when you’re sick, people love you more.”
The Victim archetype isn’t here for you to indulge in, but it’s been placed before you as a way to develop self-esteem and personal power. When you’re in a situation where you feel threatened, misunderstood, ignored, or lack power, take the time to notice the reactions you’re having physically and emotionally. Depending on your emotion, what choice can you make that will serve your own empowerment? Identify the problem or threat you have to overcome, take the time to listen to your internal voice, and keep your eye on the truth that everything and everyone in your life is there to assist in your growth.
You have innate relationships with people who are always connected to the victim archetype. Their primary role in your life is to help you develop your self-esteem through acts of honesty, integrity, courage, and self-respect. These people, and your emotional interactions with them, play a critical part in awakening you to your personal value and are essential to your well-being.
How To Avoid Being “The Victim”
Of course, it may be difficult to decipher when your feelings of gratitude for the attention are morphing into something more toxic. Ask yourself some of these questions to help pinpoint where you are in your journey.
• How or when have you ever been a victim?
• Do you feel sorry for yourself on a daily basis?
• Do you feel more powerful or powerless when you’re in trouble?
• What have been your emotions when you interact with someone worse off than you?
No matter what you discover…I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You’re playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson