I had a 3 AM epiphany the other day.
I’ve been experiencing some personal challenges recently and found myself in the quagmire of stuckness. It had built over a few weeks with more and more incidents until I hit my peak in the dead of night and the solution finally came.
Up until that point I had been slowly but surely sliding into ‘Victim.’ Even though I’ve done a lot of work on this in the past, it still has the ability to creep up.
You may be able to relate to what being in victim feels like:
- Feeling helpless
- Feeling disempowered
- Feeling that you can’t solve the problem
- Feeling stuck with no clear way through
- Going inward, catastrophising and experiencing spiralling thoughts
- Isolating yourself thinking that only you can solve the problem even though it isn’t clear how to solve it
- Feeling the weight of the problem impact on your general wellbeing and energy levels
- Waking up in the middle of the night and chewing it over
The thing about being in Victim is that for a period of time you are unaware you are operating from that place. But you certainly feel that things aren’t right and that something is weighing down.
Some situations where you may fall into victim without realising it:
- A conflict situation with a friend, partner, family member or person at work
- A situation where circumstances are perceived as out of your control or ‘done to you’
- A problem or challenge with no immediate clear solution
On my own personal journey and work with my clients I have seen this many times.
Life happens, we are humans and we sometimes aren’t always conscious about how we respond.
We always have a choice but that choice isn’t always immediately clear.
The stuck state
The problem with staying in Victim is we lose our voice, our sense of self-confidence, self-worth and ability to tackle the problem, and our resilience seemingly ebbs away. We might shrink back, not speak up and feel resentful that we are in a state of powerlessness, which can further compound the issue.
Something that helps me and the clients I coach to understand this further, is the Drama Triangle. Created by Stephen Karpman, it is used in the modality of transactional analysis to understand the games and dynamics we fall into.
The Drama Triangle is comprised of 3 points:
- The Victim: Seeks to convince themselves and others that they cannot do anything. This can happen by avoiding and wanting to escape true feelings or acknowledging change. The inner narrative is ‘poor me!’ In victim, people feel powerless and unable to make decisions or solve problems with clarity or insight. The victim may seek to be rescued and will place someone or a group of people in the position of persecutor.
- The Rescuer: The rescuer’s goal is to help and ultimately solve someone else’s problems. The inner narrative is ‘I must help.’ This can be seen as overcaring and can have negative effects. It can keep the victim dependent and doesn’t allow them permission to fail and experience the consequences of their choices. When they focus their energy on someone else, it enables them to ignore their own anxiety and issues.
- The Persecutor: The persecutor’s inner narrative is, “It’s your fault.” The persecutor will place themselves in a ‘one up’ position and can be seen as controlling, critical, blaming and angry. If blamed in return, the persecutor may become defensive, and may switch roles to victim.
A drama triangle can arise when someone takes on the role of a victim or persecutor. This person then feels the need to bring others into the conflict. This can be within their minds or actually play out.
Can you relate to this or think of a situation where you have been the Victim, Rescuer or Persecutor?
There is another way…..
The Winner’s Triangle was created by Acey Choy in 1990 as a therapeutic model. The Power of TED*, first published in 2009, suggests that the Victim instead adopt the role of creator, see the persecutor as a Challenger, and enlist a Coach instead of a rescuer.
- Creator – Victims switch to outcome-oriented as opposed to problem-oriented and take responsibility for choosing their response. They focus on resolving “dynamic tension” (the difference between current reality and the envisioned goal or outcome) by taking small steps toward the outcomes they are trying to achieve.
- Challenger – A Victim is encouraged to see a persecutor as a person (or situation) that forces the creator to clarify their needs, and focus on their learning and growth. Kind of like a mirror to their own behaviours and needs for change.
- Coach – A Rescuer is encouraged to ask questions that are intended to help the individual to make choices for themselves rather than solve the problem for them. The Coach sees the Creator as capable of making choices and of solving their own problems.
I could unpack the dynamics between these three over the course of an entire book, but for the purposes of what I’m speaking about today, I’m focusing on:
How to shift from Victim to Creator
It starts and ends with you
This is currently a powerful mantra I have saved on my phone’s wallpaper. It essentially means that you are the source of change and the key to the solution.
Rather than see this as isolating yourself and taking on all of the weight of the situation, it is more about feeling empowered to take responsibility and ownership for your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. That will absolutely involve seeking support from others (see next point) but the starting point is to feel empowered to make a change. That starts with you and what you can control (see my blog on the circle of influence for more information on this.)
Seek support from the right people
No one is an island and two or more heads are definitely better than one when faced with a challenge. The key here is to identify, navigate and seek out support from the right people. When faced with a big challenge, us humans can have a tendency to withdraw and go within to solve the problem, however in many situations this won’t always be the complete answer.
Types of support people:
- An expert with a specific skill that may be able to provide an educated view
- A key stakeholder or decision maker in your problem
- A trusted advisor or to take on the role of ‘coach’ (not rescuer)
- An advocate or ‘witness’ to support your viewpoint
Take empowered action
Once you feel empowered to make the changes required to your own behaviour and have sought support from the right people, you are ready to take steps forward in solving the challenge. These can be small steps, as gaining small wins along the way will only add to your sense of self-confidence and empowerment, spurring you on to move through the problem to the solution.
The more little steps that are taken, the more the Victim feelings slide away, replaced by more ease, peace, and empowerment as you fully step into the role of Creator.
Be kind to yourself
As mentioned, I’ve had knowledge and have been working on this for myself for years, and yet I can still fall into Victim. Have compassion for yourself in understanding that this happens, and that through awareness, you can move through this and make positive changes.
Do you need help with this in order to more confidently speak up and achieve win/win outcomes in your business and/or organisation?
Get in touch by hitting reply and let’s book a time to chat. I offer keynotes, workshops and coaching programmes on these types of topics.