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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

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

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.

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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Last Updated on April 27, 2021

How To Accept Responsibility For Your Life (7 No-Nonsense Tips)

How To Accept Responsibility For Your Life (7 No-Nonsense Tips)

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you are human. This means that there is likely a time or two when you have not taken responsibility for something in your life. We’ve all been there. Maybe you broke an item at a place of employment but didn’t fess up to it, or you missed a deadline and blamed the reason why on someone else, or perhaps you decided a responsibility was too great to face.

Accepting responsibility can be challenging because it doesn’t always feel good. It can require time we think we don’t have. Feelings of shame or inadequacy can surface. Rather than face those feelings, it’s much easier to not accept responsibility.

This is all understandable. But it may not be serving us and who we want to be in the long run.

Accepting responsibility has benefits at work, home, and all aspects of life. When we demonstrate to ourselves that we can be responsible, we show our strength of character, our leadership qualities, and even our adulting skills.

Knowing that doesn’t make accepting responsibility any easier, does it?

Using the example of pretending that you live in an apartment with multiple roommates where you all have to share the kitchen, we will look at seven tips on how to accept responsibility for your life.

1. Stop Playing the Victim

You’ve just cooked a big meal involving several pots, pans, and cooking utensils. You reflect on feeling overwhelmed and stressed by life right now and decide that you just don’t have the time or energy to do your dishes right now. The next time you or your roommates want to use the kitchen, there’s a big mess and a lack of options for pans and cutlery to use.

Maybe one of your roommates will do it for you? Superman to the rescue? I hate to break it to you, but Superman doesn’t actually exist.

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Why insist on crushing every childhood fantasy? Because when we wait for someone else to fix our problems, we are playing the victim, and if Superman doesn’t exist (or Spiderman or Wonder Woman, or Black Panther, etc.), then we will be perpetually tied to the proverbial train tracks, waiting for someone else to save us.[1]

What we can do in this situation is acknowledge and validate our feelings. In the above scenario, you’re focusing on feeling overwhelmed. This feeling isn’t “bad.” But it does affect your motivation to accept responsibility, keeping you in a victim mindset. It isn’t just the dishes that you need to face. You also need to take responsibility for your emotions.

Acknowledging and validating emotions help you to understand what you’re feeling and why. You can then redirect the energy you’re wasting on being a victim and redirect it toward more productive things in life. Like doing your own dishes.

There are many different ways we can develop the skill of self-acknowledgment and validation. One of the best is to write about what you’re experiencing. You may be surprised by how you describe the “what” and “why” of your feelings. You may even uncover other times in your life when you felt this way and find that your current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are based on that past. You might even heal an old experience as you deal with the present circumstance!

2. End the Blame Game

“If my roommates were more consistent about doing their dishes, then I would feel like I could do mine.”

It’s so easy to come up with excuses and reasons why we shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than anyone else. We find interesting ways to blame others for why we can’t do something. This becomes another way to avoid taking responsibility, and we can do so out of a perspective of anger.[2]

Anger can be energetically compelling, but it’s not always rooted in reality. It can keep us stuck and prevent us from having the life and relationships we really want. Much like being the victim, it’s important to ask yourself how being and staying angry is serving you. Again, it’s important to acknowledge and validate these thoughts and feelings too.

Perhaps you’re really feeling mad at someone at your workplace who isn’t taking responsibility for their own projects. You end up taking on their work, allowing anger to build up. By the time you get home, you need a place to let that anger out. And so, your anger is directed toward your kitchen and your roommates.

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This may help you feel better for a little while, but it’s not sustainable. There are so many ways of dealing with anger. It would serve you and others around you well to learn how to manage and work with any anger you have in your life so that you can resume your acceptance of responsibility.

3. Forgive Yourself and others

After reading tips number 1 and 2, perhaps you are now adept at practicing acknowledging and validating your feelings. Because of that work, it’s easier to forgive yourself and others.

For instance, without the feelings of victimhood and blame, you have the energy to see things from a perspective of forgiveness and tolerance.

From a place of forgiveness, you see that even though your roommates don’t take care of their dishes right away every time, they do so more often than not. Plus, you can see that all of you have challenging things happening in your lives right now, so why should your challenges make it so that you can slack off? You may even remember times when your roommates have helped you out with cleaning the kitchen even though the mess wasn’t theirs.

As you forgive others, you forgive yourself too and take ownership of your own tasks.

4. Use Responsibility as a Way to Help Others

Shirking our responsibilities can actually affect others’ well-being. We can step into a space of considering how our actions, or lack thereof, might be burdening or harming others.

For example, not doing your dishes and leaving the kitchen dirty means that when another roommate wants to use the kitchen to make a meal, they may have to clean the kitchen first to have access to the pots, pans, and utensils required. They may feel annoyed that you didn’t take responsibility for your mess, which affects your relationship with your roommate. A confrontation may be on the horizon.

However, if you can put yourself in the frame of mind to consider things from your roommate’s position, you might think twice about leaving the dishes. By taking responsibility and doing your part to keep the kitchen clean, you are taking care of the space and your roommates.

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A lot of people find it easier and highly beneficial to do things out of a sense of responsibility for others.[3] Thinking about things from another’s perspective can be a motivating factor and can provide us with feelings of purpose.

5. Look for the Win-Win

When we choose not to take responsibility, we are choosing a zero-sum game, meaning nobody wins. What if you looked for the win-win opportunity of taking responsibility instead?

Maybe there have been times when your roommates have saddled you with a messy kitchen. If you now decide to leave your mess, nobody wins. Whereas, cleaning up after yourself now means that you are modeling how you want the space to be treated by everyone. You are also ensuring that your roommates can trust you to take responsibility for your cleaning tasks, and the next person who wants to use the kitchen will be able to do so.

In this scenario, you will be taking responsibility, cultivating a relationship of trust with your roommates, and making it so that nobody else has to clean up after you. Everyone wins.

6. Make Taking Responsibility Fun

Another vantage point from which we could look is the place of joy. Yes, joy.

It’s easy to paint “cleaning the kitchen” in a negative light when shows are streaming on Netflix and downtime activities calling. But what could happen for you if you made the task of doing the dishes fun?

How can it be fun? This is where you get to be creative.

Some ideas could be playing some of your favorite music as you clean, invite a roommate to chat while you clean, or you could play that show you’re binging on Netflix as you scrub. Have Airpods? Call a friend as you clean!

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Finding a way to make it fun helps you lose track of time and get the job done faster. It could also provide some necessary “play” time. We don’t play enough as adults. Get back to your childhood roots and find ways to incorporate play into your daily routine, and get the dishes done at the same time!

7. Choose Your Own Adventure

When we approach responsibility from our highest self, we can be at choice for how we want to accept it. This requires an awareness of what we intend to accomplish or learn in any life experience.

For instance, when faced with a responsibility, you could consider all the ways of looking at it (from a place of victimhood, blame, forgiveness, service to others, win-win, or fun) and decide which perspective would serve the highest good of all, yourself included.

When we can approach any life situation from the standpoint of having choices, doesn’t that feel better than feeling forced into a decision or action?

Conclusion

Knowing that you can make conscious choices at any time in your life hopefully helps you to feel freer and more energized for any life responsibility you choose to accept. These seven tips on how to accept responsibility will set you up for a good start.

More Tips on How To Be a Responsible Person

Featured photo credit: Marcos Paulo Prado via unsplash.com

Reference

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