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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Stop Playing the Victim in Life And Fight for What You Want

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How to Stop Playing the Victim in Life And Fight for What You Want

It is no coincidence that superhero movies consistently win at the box office. Year after year, people flock to theaters to see the villain fall at the hands of an unlikely superhero as they munch on popcorn and drown out the hardships of the day.

What is the draw all about?

Perhaps the struggle on-screen represents the very same struggle we face when we wake up each morning. The choice to play the victim in our own lives. Will we succumb to the seemingly insurmountable challenges in our way or decide to get up and fight?

To be clear, there are very real challenges that we face. Life isn’t a Marvel movie. As COVID-19 sweeps across the world, we see loss, grief, pain, and suffering at every turn. The political landscape is bleak, families are navigating circumstances they have never faced before, and there are still all of the additional daily stresses that come with living life like business as usual.

Still, whether this is the first or third act of our lives, it is never too early or too late to decide to be our own hero.

1. Start by Validating Yourself—Your Pain Is Real

The circumstances surrounding our pain are challenging and have evoked strong emotions. Judging ourselves for our feelings doesn’t help.

“Self-validation is accepting our own internal experience, our thoughts, and our feelings. It doesn’t mean that we believe our thoughts or think our feelings are justified.”[1] However, it does mean that we are giving ourselves the space to acknowledge them, normalize them, and decide how best to proceed. By claiming our feelings, we take the first step in owning our process.

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2. Notice Your Limiting Beliefs

We know we are struggling, but have we unpacked the stories we are telling ourselves about why things can’t change? These stories are typically our limiting beliefs wrapped up in a narrative. Classicly, when we are playing the victim in our lives, we are acting out the limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves, others, and the world.[2]

“People just don’t like me; I’ll never fit in; I’ll never be promoted here; My boss is a jerk.”

Sound familiar? We are all guilty of defaulting to this place in moments of frustration. This part is human.

We are all hard-wired for a fixed mindset. It is only through practice and persistence that we can build a muscle for practicing a growth mindset in our daily lives. Researcher Carol Dweck tells us that when we believe we can learn new things, develop and grow, we excel in new and ever-changing ways.

3. Build Your Internal Locus of Control

“If a person has an internal locus of control, that person attributes success to his or her own efforts and abilities. A person who expects to succeed will be more motivated and more likely to learn.”[3]

When we point our finger at ourselves instead of toward the world, we build a case for our own agency. We should stop waiting for things to change. Instead, we should start actively taking steps to change things.

4. Challenge Your Habits, Try New Ones

Many of us might say “sure, easier said than done,” and we would be right. Changing our behavior takes time and consistency. We can’t just snap our fingers and suddenly have an internal locus of control.

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When we identify behaviors that no longer serve us and replace them with new ones that help us assert our power, we will begin to experience change.

Case in point: If I always say that I am not a good writer and that is why I have never started a blog, I may not be able to sit right down and launch my own blog. Instead, I should start with a daily commitment to journaling so that I can build in the direction of something I am willing to share publicly. Baby steps.

5. Look Around for Inspiration

Being a superhero gets tiring and sometimes we simply struggle to find our steam. Building new habits, changing our state of mind, and holding ourselves accountable take effort.

Enter an inspirational playlist. Find our favorite tunes on Spotify and jam out with fearless abandon.

Sounds silly? It’s not—whether you love spending time with friends laughing, a good inspirational quote, or time alone to recharge. These things matter! If we are asking ourselves to be a hero for the long haul, we have to keep the momentum going.

6. Allow Yourself to Mess Up

We can’t expect perfection, and it is easy to slip into old patterns. You probably have gotten used to losing in your own fight for some time. It is easy to go back to the blame game and think of all the reasons why you won’t be able to do this.

When we feel the limiting beliefs seeping in through the cracks, intervene quickly! Permitting yourself to mess up helps you to avoid playing the victim.

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7. Do the Things That Remind You of How Strong You Are

Go for a long walk, try an online workout or a massage, or do something we have always considered doing that’s outside of our comfort zone. When we prove to ourselves that we have the ability to surprise ourselves, we begin to open doors to what else is possible. Suddenly, the things that we always reserved for other people will become ours, too. Plus, the Serotonin helps!

8. Practice Restraint

There is a reason why we play the victim in the first place—it’s easier. There will be temptations and that will draw you from your path—external influences, old environments, or a desire to simply take a break. What you have to do is resist.

9. Celebrate Your Small Wins—Momentum Builds Momentum

We must notice each time we successfully approach the challenges at hand with a commitment to showing up for ourselves. Instead of feeling like a loser and playing the victim, lift your head and celebrate your small wins.

Each time you apologize without giving external excuses, take advantage of an invite to go somewhere you have never been, or speak our hopes out loud without fear of failure. This way, you are stepping into the life you were always meant for.

10. Note That You Are on Nobody’s Timeline but Your Own

Comparison is the enemy of progress, so don’t be distracted by what others are up to. Stay in touch with the “personal why” that drives you to build a life you love. With newfound resolve, push forward with attention to the fact that there may be collateral damage.

When you have been participating as a victim in your life, some people will not be ready to see you show up differently. Don’t be alarmed. You may have to teach others how to be part of your life in a new way. If they aren’t up for it, try not to take it too personally.

11. Set up Your Own Honor System

There will be hiccups in your path, so you should plan for how you will face these hiccups without making any excuses. Taking ownership means staying committed even when it’s not convenient. This also means taking responsibility and setting up your honor system.

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12. Design the Life You Want to Live

Let’s make a list of all of the things that we want for ourselves. With some direction, we can go out there and tackle them one thing at a time.

Do you want to start your own business? Say goodbye to a toxic friend? Find a new role with a better work-life balance? There is no limit to what is possible when we are dedicated to our agenda.

You are equipped with the skills you need to make our dreams come true, but don’t rush it. Take the time to enjoy the ride.

13. Make the Hard Choice

Agency is a tricky thing. Sometimes, the right thing to do and the hard thing to do are the same. There is no room for righteousness only if you want to stop playing the victim, especially when you have to make a difficult choice.

14. Maintain Your Humor

Laugh at life and laugh at yourself. Find the humor in everything, and you’ll slowly get rid of that mentality of playing the victim. The world is full of chaos, but it isn’t only chaos that exists. Maintaining your humor allows you to always see the bright side of things.

15. Don’t Look Back

You made it this far, and you don’t want your efforts to go to waste. Choosing to show up differently to the world takes bravery, and you have plenty to be proud of.

The only guarantee in life is that things will always change, and there will always be new mountains to climb. Let’s remember our capes when we leave the house.

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Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, we can wait to be rescued or we can put one foot in front of the other doing the best we can with what we’ve got. We will mess up, and there will be mascara smeared. But someday, we will thank ourselves for every day we got up and tried.

More to Strengthen Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Carolina Heza via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Self-Validation
[2] Inc.: Three Types of Limiting Beliefs
[3] Psychology Today: Locus of Control

More by this author

Staci Taustine

Founder & CEO, Stubborn Heart Consulting LLC.

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Published on October 14, 2021

How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome

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How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome

Do you ever worry about being exposed as a “fraud?” You’re not alone. It’s actually quite common for people to feel like imposters. In fact, approximately 70 percent of people admit to having experienced impostor syndrome[1] at some point in their lives — a Twitter poll found that 87 percent of people have experienced this.[2] Even successful and famous people like Tom Hanks, Howard Schultz, and Natalie Portman suffer from imposter syndrome.

But, what exactly is imposter syndrome. And, more importantly, how can you silence it?

Originally coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., ABPP, and Suzanne Imes, Ph.D., the term “impostor syndrome” describes symptoms that include being unable to internalize accomplishments and being afraid of being exposed as a fraud.

The individual may also be plagued by chronic self-doubt and believe that they’re unqualified for success despite evidence to the contrary. Inadequacies, fears of failure, and disbelief that success is a matter of luck or timing are also common.

If you don’t address this phenomenon, feeling like an impostor can prevent you from achieving ambitious goals. Moreover, those experiencing these feelings tend to over-prepare or procrastinate — which obviously hinders productivity and reaching goals. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, imposter syndrome prevents you from pursuing new challenges and opportunities.

Do you feel like you’re suffering from impostor syndrome? If so, don’t beat yourself up. After all, there are effective ways to overcome these feelings in a healthy and proactive way.

1. Don’t Hide It.

“Firstly, acknowledge it,” advises Claudine Robson,[3] the Intentional Coach. “You give strength to imposter syndrome by letting it continue to peck away at your confidence unchecked.” It can only be banished if you acknowledge it as soon as possible and break the silence.

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“Then you need to separate your feelings from facts,” Robson adds. “One thing imposter syndrome does very effectively is to mix up your perceptions of reality.”

If you can, take a step back and look at the situation objectively. “Recognize when you should — and when you should not — feel fraudulent,” she says. Appreciate and acknowledge the task, intellect, and insight that have led to your success.

You might even be able to take action by recognizing that the reason you feel fraudulent is that you’re new to a task. “That gives you a path forward; learning is growth, don’t deny yourself that.”

2. Implement the STOP Technique

In her book Cognitive Enlightenment, Melinda Fouts, Ph.D., outlines a technique to overcome imposter syndrome using what she calls the STOP technique.

“STOP is an acronym for ‘silence the oppressive player,” Fouts explains in Forbes.[4] “You need to eradicate this tape that is playing 24/7, whether you are conscious of it or not. It plays loudest when we are tired, hungry, or feeling defeated.”

Steps to implementing the STOP technique and rewiring your brain are as follows:

To replace the tape of not good enough, you need a “launch sentence.” “I’m more than good enough” would is an example of a solid launch statement.

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Put your launch sentence in prominent locations, such as your car’s dashboard or computer. How come? The reason is that as the tape plays, you won’t be able to remember your launch statement.

Continue to say “stop” until you recall your launch sentence, says Fouts.

Put your launch sentence into your own words and pontificate.

While going about your daily tasks, like while driving or exercising, practice your launch sentence so you can recall it when you need it in the future.

“I am told this sounds simple and it does,” she adds. However, this technique is challenging when your negative tape is playing. You will not want to replace the tape every day while your brain is rewiring itself. “It is these moments you can’t give up.”

3. Distinguish Humility and Fear

When it comes to hard work and accomplishments, there’s humility, and then there’s fear. In other words, having a high level of competence can lead one to discount its value occasionally. However, as Carl Richards wrote in an article for the New York Times,[5] “After spending a lot of time fine-tuning our ability, isn’t it sort of the point for our skill to look and feel natural?”

The problem is that we feel unworthy from time to time. But, as Seth Godin explained in a blog post,[6] “When you feel unworthy, any kind response, positive feedback or reward feels like a trick, a scam, the luck of the draw.”

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Feeling worthy without feeling entitled is possible. And, finding the right balance between them is critical for overcoming impostor syndrome. “Humility and worthiness have nothing at all to do with defending our territory,” Godin continues. “We don’t have to feel like a fraud to also be gracious, open, or humble.”

4. Keep a “Brag Sheet”

When you were sending out college applications, did you build yourself a “brag sheet?” If not, here’s a clean description from Shawna Newman,[7] “A brag sheet is very similar to a student resume – it highlights your accomplishments, key experiences, leadership skills, and employment throughout your secondary education.” In short, “it’s a quick reference guide with all the details and achievements for someone trying to get to know you better.”

While it may be awkward at first, you can apply the same concept when coping with imposter syndrome. Just compose a list of your accomplishments, activities, skills. That’s it. Just remember Godin’s advice and also be humble and gracious.

As an added perk, besides being an effective way to talk myself up, I’ve also found that this has helped me stop comparing myself to others. Instead of harping about other people’s milestones, I’m honing in on what I’ve done.

5. Celebrate Wins, Period

Speaking of accomplishments, they shouldn’t be categorized as small or big. After all, you feel as if you don’t belong when you have imposter syndrome. So, the more you celebrate your wins, the more confident you’ll become.

Furthermore, accept compliments without qualifying them and practice listening to praise every day. Finally, become kinder to yourself by saying at least one kind thing to yourself daily. And, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

6. Assemble a Legion of Superheroes

“You know how corporations have a board of directors to — in theory — make them stronger, maintain checks and balances, leverage resources, and help advance the organization’s vision?” asks inspirational speaker, speaking coach, and creative consultant Tania Katan.[8] “Why not assemble your own board of directors to leverage resources to help make your career stronger, keep you in check and balanced, and advance your vision?”

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“My friend Alison Wade, president of conferences, training, and consulting at Techwell, calls her personal board of directors her “front-row” — those are the people she invites to sit spitting distance from the stage, cheer her on, challenge her, and review her performance,” Katan writes.

As for Katan, she calls hers a “legion of superheroes.” The reason? “I dig the idea of joining forces to do good in the corporate galaxy.”

It’s important to have a diverse group of individuals who will defend you. Ideally, they should be varied in all dimensions, such as cultural background, way of thinking, and skills.

Katan recommends that you meet together frequently, whether if that’s once a week or every quarter. “Share your experiences, fears, creative ideas, aspirations,” she adds. “Celebrate each other’s accomplishments.” You also need to both support and challenge each other. “Discover what you are capable of doing when you combine your powers.”

7. Visualize Success

Follow the example of a professional athlete by imagining yourself crushing that presentation or project. You’ll enjoy the relief from performance-related stress. And, more importantly, it can help you avoid focusing on the worst-case scenario.

Final Words of Advice

While there’s no single formula to cure imposter syndrome, the tips listed above are a start. After all, your success depends on your ability to fight the negative effects of it. For example, feeling unworthy over time can lead to crippling anxiety and depression if left untreated.

If you’ve tried the above, then make sure that you speak to someone about what you’re experiencing, whether it’s a mentor, peer group, or licensed professional. And, above all else, there’s a place at the table for everyone — no matter what your inner voice is telling you.

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How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Laurenz Kleinheider via unsplash.com

Reference

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