What to do when you feel like a victim.
Do you ever feel like the world is out to get you?
Do you ever get annoyed about...feeling annoyed?
There will always be times in our lives when we feel like a victim. Everything seems to keep going wrong, and we spiral down into feeling stressed, trapped in the situation, and having no resilience.
The most recent example for me was over the last four weeks. I had a clear plan with my coaching business, had clients booked in and had loads of content to create. I was excited about getting stuck in...then my family got Covid!
I was juggling feeling rough for two weeks, dealing with two young kids being home, talking to clients, and throwing all other plans out the window. We all got over Covid in time for the half-term break, where we had a lovely time seeing family, but if I'm honest, I was a bit "kidded out" as I'd been around them every hour of every day for two weeks already. I was all set to get back on course after half term. I was one day back into coaching when I got a call from the school; "Mr Bowman, Jack has just thrown up, and he won't be allowed back for 48 hours".
I downed tools for 48 hours and was there for my son. On the morning of his return to school, he was covered in spots. Long story short, he had Chickenpox for the second time, and he was off school for another week.
My family always come first, and it was nice to have some extra bonding time with them... although it did bring flashbacks of lockdown. However, I did struggle every day with being fully present. My inner critic kept pointing out I had made minimal progress on my coaching business for about a month, and I felt very much "poor me". Victim mode activated!
I'm sure you can all relate to times like this, and they're not always this extreme. It's not uncommon for a client to jump on a call; we're all geared up to talk about exciting, fulfilling stuff, and something feels off. It's my job to be bold and go with my gut. Here's an example of a recent conversation:
Me: "I know we've planned to talk about progress towards your goals today, but something feels off. Let's take a few minutes to see what's going on."
Client: "It's nothing really. My wife and I argued last night, and we still haven't spoken to each other today."
Me: "I'm sorry to hear that. Anything else you want to share?"
Client: "The kids are breaking me too. They're arguing all the time and not sleeping, which impacts my sleep, work, and resilience. Also, I'm not playing golf as well as I should, so that's annoying me. Oh yeah, and I'm not getting to the gym enough."
Me: "There's a lot going on there. What is it that you really want from this situation?'
Client: "I sound and feel like a grumpy old man, and I want to get out of this negative mindset".
This client was really trying to battle with feeling like a victim. He desperately wanted to talk about progress and goals as he thought it would be fulfilling and snap him out of victimhood. However, that would have been like papering over cracks as he'd fallen into what I call a "negative feedback loop".
A negative feedback loop is where you get annoyed about your reaction to a situation. For example, someone says something to you, and it annoys you. You dwell on it, and it impacts your mood. You then berate yourself for letting it get to you. Before you know it, you're annoyed about the fact that...you're annoyed. Round and down we go; it's an all too familiar ride.
So what can we do about these situations?
It feels counterintuitive, but the best thing to do is acknowledge you're in a victim state and get it all out. Most of us try to battle through and eventually come out of victim mode. However, we may have missed something that needs addressing, and it may surface again with more force.
In this client's case, we devoted the rest of the session to diving into his perceived "throw-away" subject of family life. We went through the weeds together and realised his victim mindset was due to communication with his wife and not feeling "on the same page". By the end of the call, he knew what he needed to do and was looking forward to its positive impact.
I want to share with you the steps I take my clients through when they are feeling a victim of their situation:
1. Acknowledge your state - Take a moment to stop and check-in with yourself. If you feel like a victim, don't judge it, don't be in denial, OWN IT!
2. Feel it - Take some time to feel all the feelings that show up. We get caught up about having "negative" emotions and that they're a "bad thing". Take a different perspective:
Emotion is just energy in motion; that's why they are called "E-Motions."
If we block that energy from being felt, it will build up like water behind a dam and eventually breakthrough. We all know those times when it all comes out inappropriately, and it's usually followed by someone close to you saying, "where the hell is all this coming from?!".
So, let the emotions be felt and get them out in a safe way.
3. Time frame - The next step is to give yourself a specific timeframe to feel these emotions. For example, "I'm going to give myself till the end of the day to feel like a victim. Come the morning, I'm moving on!".
This timeframe works well for permitting ourselves to feel into things. It holds us accountable for getting it all out and gives us a clear finish line.
A pro tip is to make sure you share this with anyone in your safe space. For example, if you live with a partner, it might be a good idea to let them know you're allowing yourself to feel like a victim that evening so that they understand why you're a little off. Being vulnerable about these situations only strengthens communication in relationships.
4. Priorities - Once we've felt everything in our timeframe, the next step is to check in with your basic priorities. In other words, are you getting the basic things you need in your life? For example, are you sleeping enough, are you making wise food choices, are you making time to exercise, do you feel lonely? For more information on prioritising the things that matter, please check out this article.
5. Professional Help - Sometimes, we can't change our perspective due to habits we've created. This is where working with a Professional Coach will benefit you tremendously.
In summary, leaning into perceived negative emotions, getting them out on the table and permitting yourself to feel them in a timeframe is a much faster way of returning to our natural state than trying to battle through the situation.
If you're tired of constantly feeling like a victim and want to change your perspective dramatically, I've got the perfect coaching package for you. Please visit this link to find out more and book a free call with me.
Here's to your journey.