How To Take Yourself Out Of ‘Victim Status’

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Have you ever wondered why you feel angry most of the time?

Maybe you've just come out of an abusive relationship? Or, did someone cheat you out of money or a job promotion?

Taking back your power requires you to stop playing the "blame game."

Does this mean those who have wronged you aren't guilty? No, it doesn't.

Does this mean you won't hold anyone accountable for hurting you? No, that won't work.

Taking back your power means you take control of making better decisions.

For example, if your parents or ex-lovers have mistreated you, this pain can cling to you like a dryer sheet to polyester.

It becomes part of who you are, and you will wear it everywhere you go.

When you make a conscious decision to remove yourself from playing the blame game, you are giving yourself back your control measures.

"When you blame people from your past, you're stuck in a child's role," says a woman we'll call Patricia. "A victim's role is really a child's role, which means you're operating from a helpless state."

Patricia had ended up at a domestic violence shelter for women.

There, she learned the power of realizing her ex-husband was horribly abusive, not lovable and in need of a counselor. However, Patricia made the choice to stop blaming him anymore.

"I looked in the mirror one day and said, 'I'm fully in control of my life now. I blame no one. I forgive and I choose to let it all go,'" says Patricia.

Being made a victim and choosing to stay a victim are two very different things. Physical separation from those who hurt you means you can decide your own path from now on.

"Keep in mind that you don't have to blame yourself forever, either," says a man we'll call Paul. Paul counsels women and men in alcohol recovery programs. "I explain to my clients that taking responsibility for making new, hopefully good, decisions is the thing to do. We all think that blame has to go somewhere, so we look around for someone to lay it on."

Paul goes on to say that he used to blame his tenants for bad experiences in a rental house he owned.

When that didn't work, Paul started blaming himself. Did he have poor judgment? Was he cursed with back luck and renters who wouldn't pay?

Paul says, "A friend of mine finally asked me, 'Paul, do you make people fill out an application and give work references and rental history?'"

Paul says that no, he'd never taken that route. He prided himself on being able to "judge" people's character and lifestyle based on his "great intuition."

When Paul finally woke up, he had to laugh at himself. He was spending his energy either blaming tenants or blaming himself for little or no rent collected.

"Finally, it soaked in," says Paul. "I had to take responsibility for vetting these renters. This would mean making calls to their employers and prior landlords, not tossing a coin and guessing they were okay!"

Thinking very logically and making a good plan of action keeps us all feeling more in control. Why? Logical thinking means we do things in steps, an inch at a time.

The bad aspect of blaming other people is that we let ourselves totally off the hook. It's better to step up to the plate and say, "I'm going to pay attention here. I will make my choices more consciously." ___ (Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website www.usawellnesscafe.com. Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)

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