From Victim to Victor
Doing away with the subtle victim mentality that keeps us from living life well, wild & free.
In my last post, I spoke about the journey I've been on of learning to rise above hard circumstances. Circumstances like being told about our son's surprise diagnosis of Down Syndrome after his birth, then being told a diagnosis of my own of stage III cancer less than two years later (all before the age of 27). I've learned that, despite being very much still in the middle of my story, I don't have to wait for my circumstances to change – that it is possible to still live life fully in the midst of all the mess and uncertainty.
It comes down to this: your circumstances do not have to tie you down or keep you from living fully alive.
I've learned that it's about making a daily choice of breaking out of the subtle victim mindset that holds so many of us down – often without us even realizing it. It means making the change from being a victim to becoming a victor in every area of life.
So let’s break it down: what does it mean to live under a victim mentality?
I believe there are two types of victims: the first is someone who gives up without a fight and resigns themselves to a hard life, whether it be because of exhaustion, fear or misguided ‘trust’. The second type, which is more subtle, is someone one who becomes hard and aggressive. Someone who gets through life by being tough and showing little to no love or compassion to others – many times because they were never shown any themselves.
There are other subtle indicators of living under a victim mindset. I've experienced the hard way what victim thought patterns can look like versus having a victor mindset.
Advance warning: these are challenging to read (for me more than anyone) and can feel uncomfortable. Even if you think you’re the farthest away from a victim you could be (as I thought), look through these, keep an open mind and see if any of them resonate. You could be surprised; I know I was.
- A victim allows their circumstances to control their life, their thoughts and their actions. They are dictated to by their circumstances and feel powerless, overwhelmed and unable to rise above them.
- A victor chooses to respond to their circumstances and not allow them to hold them back. They know their identity is not based on what happens to them. They don’t allow circumstances, judgments from others or fear of being judged to change their beliefs, their convictions or their actions.
- A victim blames others or circumstances for their own failures.
- A victor takes responsibility and ownership over their mistakes and acts to overcome their shortcomings.
- A victim focuses on past pain and how hard life is.
- A victor lays the past to rest and chooses to look ahead to the future.
- A victim sees everything from a negative point of view.
- A victor chooses to not sugarcoat reality, but to intentionally see the positives and silver lining in every hard circumstance. They choose to focus on and be thankful for the good.
- A victim resigns themselves to ‘getting through’ hard circumstances and focuses on surviving through them.
- A victor is willing to fight and to do whatever it takes to overcome hardships and thrive in the process.
- A victim either is passive-aggressive and pushes down their emotions and represses them, or they allow their emotions to rule over them and live immersed in their emotions.
- A victor allows themselves to freely express their emotions and deal fully with whatever comes up, but then they stand up, look ahead and move on. They choose to control their emotions through knowing and speaking truth rather than letting their emotions control them.
- A victim always has an excuse for anything they’ve failed to do or any shortcomings they may have. This is a big one for me and one I have to continually keep myself from defaulting back to. Growing up I had a teacher who would tell other classes stories about his student (me) that, no matter what, always had a legitimate excuse for being late, not doing homework, etc. Not a good way to get through life.
- A victor, I’m learning, takes ownership over their failures and shortcomings and is proactive to change and learn from mistakes. It’s not easy. But as much as I would like it to be otherwise, it does make all the difference.
- A victim allows life to just happen. They have what I call the ‘que sera, que sera’ mentality of whatever will be will be; believing we can’t change the future so there’s no point in trying. They drift through life with no vision or purpose and allow the day to go by without taking the initiative to be productive. Equally, we can also be victim to becoming a slave to productivity – where we can feel like if we don’t overwork ourselves in the name of being productive our day and life is wasted.
- A victor takes hold of the life they’ve been given and chooses to be proactive, to live life to the full and to make each day count for something. They also know there’s a balance, though, and value rest, health and relationships over being productive for the sake of it.
- A victim uses language like ‘I have/had to do this,’ ‘I didn’t have a choice,’ ‘I can’t do this,’ or ‘it's someone else’s fault.’
- A victor uses language like ‘I choose/chose to do this,’ ‘I will/will not do this,’ ‘I could have responded differently’ or ‘I take ownership of my mistakes and will learn from them in the future.’
- A victim reacts. A victor responds. Responding rather than reacting is important in every area of life. We can react to a situation that causes an instinctual emotion such as fight or flight (anger or fear), and both emotions can have damaging consequences. Or we can respond by taking time to think about what we can do when we feel that emotion and consciously choose how we act. It means taking the time in every situation to ask yourself: ‘How would love respond to this? What is the most loving response I can give in this moment?’ This, I’ve found, is what living victoriously means – it comes down to living out of love.
It's challenging. It's much easier to choose the path of least resistance, to get by in life with a victim or survivor mindset.
Choosing the road less travelled of not allowing hard circumstances to hold you back from living life to the full is difficult. It's a daily, intentional decision when it would be easier to wallow in self-pity and indulge in victimhood. But it's also massively rewarding.
This path is what leads to what I feel I've been searching for my entire life – life and life to the full until it overflows. Abundant life that doesn't depend on circumstances, feelings or emotions. It means choosing to live fully alive in the midst of the beautiful messes our lives often look like. Along with living a life of gratitude, I believe this choice is what makes it possible to still live life healthy, well, wild & free – even in the middle of the hardest of circumstances.
Author: Esther Moore