As much as we hate to admit it, we’ve probably all told victim stories. We’ve certainly had them told to us. It’s time to banish them.
The victim story is the one you auto-share that alerts everyone (including yourself) that you’ve been wronged by someone or some unfair situation. The telling (and retelling) confirms the need to feel hurt, angry, frustrated and resentful. And it justifies our reactions and behaviours.
We can get so attached to these stories that they seem to become our identity – they change us. We become impatient with others and release the demons when we feel we’re facing a repeat situation.
But what if the story isn’t entirely true?
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations and conflicts that hurt our feelings, but does that really mean we’re no good? A victim?
If we tell the stories to ourselves for too long, they become a part of us, not just something that happened a long time ago. This presents a big problem when we finally decide it’s time to release that story for good. After all, who would we be without the story?
Most of us would feel liberated if we let that story go. We’d have a profound sense of calm. It might even feel like a huge weight off our shoulders.
These stories are undesirable. They negatively affect us and our attitude towards others and life. They get in the way of having positive experiences and relationships. They crowd out logical thinking.
When we attach ourselves to these beliefs, they obstruct our willingness to resolve an issue, request an apology, seek forgiveness, gain greater communication with others or even feel contentment.
Instead of moving forward and evolving in our relationships, we feel a need to have several people, if not hundreds of people, know that we have been the victim of someone else’s bad behaviour. That we were right and they were wrong.
If we tell a victim story long enough, we’re unable to let it go until others know what this person or group did to us. If you think anyone has the power to hurt you, you’re confused. Harbouring the anger and bitterness only makes us angry and bitter, and it diminishes the quality of our lives.
Any story that blocks our ability to feel joy, reach for opportunities or claim our own power needs to be reassigned (like a challenging employee).
Consider how pervasive a dandelion can be when it’s not removed from the yard. It doesn’t take long for that weed to spread around and choke out healthy grasses. This is true of toxic stories, too.
So if it’s time to pull the proverbial weed from your inner dialogue, consider these few tips to help you discard or abandon the story, and have it transferred to a more capable storyteller.
Since our minds often don’t recognize the difference between fantasy and reality, you can get the upper hand by imagining the problem story as a specific individual and then plan a useful meeting with it.
Allow me to illustrate how your meeting could go. You may have heard some of these (in passing of course and not directed at you in any way):
“Seriously, it’s not you, it’s me.”
“I’m simply under qualified to nurture your unique skill sets.”
“This position will only continue to limit your growth potential, and that would be tragic given your drive and determination in this field of study.”
“In time, you’ll come to realize that this was the best decision you ever made.”
So if you catch yourself mulling over and over (and over) a victim story that seems to be leaving you a bit unsatisfied … consider pulling the darn thing out of your conversation loops. Sometimes the story is just not a team player and needs to be left in peace.
If you’re not a person of words, just picture the darn thing duct taped, hooded and left in a new location blinking repetitively at the swiftness of its reassignment.
Conflict coach Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.
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