February 22, 2007




The word, VICTIM, can mean different things. To be a victim of a crime means having been preyed upon by a criminal. To be a victim of domestic violence means living with a spouse or significant other who treats you with disrespect, hostility and aggression. To be a victim of circumstance reminds me of Curly from the Three Stooges because that was one of his favorite lines. "I'm a victim of circumstance! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk." It is not funny for any of us who has been a victim of anything. In fact, it hurts because as a victim, there is a certain degree of suffering that takes place. It could be mental/emotional anguish or anger at the perceived loss of control we have over a situation. Our thoughts, feelings and actions decide whether or not we choose to become victims or victors.

One of the easiest ways to become a VICTIM is to believe that other people have control over how we feel. It is irrational to think others have control over our emotions. First, NOBODY has control over their own emotions, let alone believing others have control over them. Second, it is more logical to acknowledge and validate ownership of our feelings than to give that power to others.

Nobody has the power to MAKE anyone feel anything. Rather, each of us has the power to manage how we feel, based on what we think and what we do. There's a difference between owning our feelings and believing others MAKE us feel anything. The key is to use "I" statements as opposed to "YOU" statements. Maintain ownership of the power to think, feel and act as an individual to avoid becoming an emotional VICTIM. It is one way to be more assertive rather than passive.

"You MAKE me feel ____ because ____."

"I feel ____ because ____."

ASSERTIVE, EMPOWERING self-talk can be the difference between deciding to be a VICTIM or VICTOR. (Some examples):

"My boss set me up to fail so he could try to fire me. He makes me feel angry for what he did."

"I feel extremely upset for having failed to do what was asked by my boss. I feel like a failure. I need to talk with my boss to develop a plan of correction so I can learn from this experience."

"My spouse treats me like dirt. My spouse makes me feel inferior, like a punching bag."

"I am not happy because my spouse verbally and physically abuses me. Even though I am afraid to leave the relationship, I need to be safe. I will ask my spouse to go to counseling with me so we can improve our relationship. Maybe we both need to make some changes. If my spouse doesn't want help, I will still get some help on my own. It is important to me to be safe."

"What is wrong with my teacher? My teacher made me flunk that test. My teacher makes me feel stupid!"

"I need to examine what I did wrong on the test so I can redeem myself the next time. I am frustrated for having flunked the exam, and I know I can do better when I apply myself to the work. It hurts to fail. Next test, I will be more prepared to show the teacher what I am learning. Maybe I can do some extra-credit work to make up for the one failing test grade. I'll go talk with my teacher."

Flip Wilson's character, Geraldine, saying, "The devil made me do it!"

"It's disheartening and embarrassing when I make bad choices, and I take full responsibility for the fall-out. What can I do to make it up to you?"

It is up to each of us to decide how we want to live our lives:

We can choose the passive approach and become an emotional VICTIM. As a VICTIM, we basically blame other people for how we feel. A rational person does not want to give this perception of power to other people. As a VICTIM, we negate our ability to think, feel and act on our own.

On the other hand, we can choose a more assertive approach and become an emotional VICTOR. As a VICTOR, we have learned to take ownership of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. With this approach, others are responsible for what they think, feel and do as well.

When we learn that everyone is responsible for themself, there will be fewer martyrs, I mean VICTIMS.

Written by,
Mark S. Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor
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