Kind but firm . . .

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”
Charles Bukowski, Post Office

Sometimes life has a habit of doing things to us … or at least that’s what we might think. Especially if we see ourselves as a victim. And if you pay attention, you can spot someone with victim syndrome . . .

  • they tend to always be complaining about the bad things that happen in their life
  • they believe they have no control over the way events unfold, so take no responsibility for them
  • one minute they’re firmly a victim … the next they’re victimizing others who try to help them
  • they resist being helped – there’s always a reason why they can’t do that one thing that might just improve the situation, or they’ve ruled it out even before they’ve ruled it in as a possibility

Above all, when I think about the notion of victim syndrome, the thought I’m most taken with is that before too long it becomes a self-fulling prophesy – the miserable, negative behaviour that someone living with victim syndrome displays, becomes who they are … I’m miserable, therefore I am. Victims fail to interact well in relationships with others, and their behaviour can often be passive-aggressive. Above all, it’s self-defeating.

But being on the receiving end of victim mentality can be equally draining. So, how to deal with them? Judith Orloff has some ideas – Strategies to Deal with a Victim Mentality. I especially like:

  • Kind but firm limit setting is healthy
  • People must take responsibility for their own lives
  • You’re not in the business of fixing anyone
  • Enabling always backfires
  • Without limits, a relationship isn’t on equal ground; and no one wins. 

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