Race To Occupy the Victim Role
How do conflicts begin? In general, conflicts begin in relationships when each side races to occupy the Victim position. Here is typically what happens:
The first person or group claims a Victim position by saying to the other, “Why are you doing this to me? Why are you causing all the problems?”
The other side retorts with, “You are not listening. In fact, you never listen. It’s always about you. You started this in the first place.”
Both sides view the other side as the Persecutor, one of the three roles in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), but they see themselves as the Victim. Viewing themselves through the Victim role makes it nearly impossible to realize that the other side sees them as the Persecutor. When in the Victim role, they must find a way to label and blame the other as a Persecutor. This dynamic keeps them both cycling around the DDT.
Once the race to occupy the Victim role is triggered, each side must find a way to defend themselves against the ones they have labeled the Persecutor. This is a general explanation of how conflicts escalate, and why each side looks for evidence that they are the real Victim.
How can this race to occupy the Victim role be transformed?
First, it is important to acknowledge there are times when conflict is emotionally or physically dangerous to you. In those situations, it is imperative that you take care of yourself and seek safety. Most conflicts, however, are more about everyday misunderstandings or different viewpoints.
A very important step to transform the race to occupy the Victim role is to take 100% responsibility for your role in the conflict. You might say, “Time out. I need to acknowledge my reactivity in this situation.” This certainly is not an easy step. It is more tempting to say you will only take 100% responsibility if the other person takes full responsibility first.
You have a choice. Do you want to contribute to healing the conflict or do you want to keep it going? If you choose to move beyond the rift, then taking full responsibility for your contribution moves you to a new vantage point.
A conflict creates a mirror for you to choose your response to life’s challenges. The gift in a conflict is that it helps you decide how you want to be and to show up in the world. In other words, conflicts do not have to be in your way. They can help you see a new way for you to be a Creator, which you naturally are.
You may be reading this and thinking, “That’s impossible. I am justified in my hurt feelings, and I’m even further justified in criticizing the other for all that they’ve done to me.”
It is in taking full responsibility that your personal power and inner peace emerges. You have sovereignty over your life, even when experiencing conflict. Outer circumstances may remain and others may not take responsibility for their part. You have no control over them, you only have control over your own choices.
The Creator, Challenger, and Coach roles in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)® do not deny the existence of conflict. Instead, they offer a positive alternative to the familiar Victim/Persecutor cycle. Creators have learned to observe themselves when they race to occupy the Victim role and have discovered far more resourceful ways of working with conflict.
When conflicts happen, and they will, see the possibilities that live inside the differences. The world desperately needs new ways of working and relating with one another.