Victimization vs Victimhood
The Victim role is the central role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT). There are absolutely times we all have felt like a Victim in the world, but there’s a profound difference between victimization and victimhood. Let us explain.
We all experience victimization. It is a part of the human experience. Situations can range from something annoying, like a rainy day when you planned a family picnic, to extreme circumstances such as systemic racism, war, domestic violence, a health crisis, or natural disasters. And the list can go on.
Victimhood is an entirely different matter. It is a way of being and taking on a mantle of self-identity that assumes one is powerless to choose their response to life’s challenges.
A victimhood mindset is sometimes called Victim consciousness. As humans, we are wired to expect danger and sense patterns that signal someone, or something is against us. This is a survival mechanism that, thankfully, contributes to keeping us safe. In addition, we create limiting stories about ourselves that usually get started in early childhood to manage family dynamics. Together, with this biological wiring and limiting stories, we may assume something is wrong with us—we are wrong and unworthy.
A sense of unworthiness can grow so strong that sitting on the sidelines and feeling like a Victim to outside circumstances may become normal. Alternatively, a sense of entitlement can emerge as a survival tactic to cover up hopeless feelings. It can also be very difficult to admit to a Victim mindset and give power away to outside circumstances.
If we live from a victimhood mindset, we may say to ourselves statements like: “I cannot believe this keeps happening to me.” “Poor me. Someone is always taking advantage of me.” Our personal favorite is, “After all I’ve done, and they treat me like this.”
Victimhood can be very tricky and tough to transform. We can have Victim consciousness in one part of our life, depending on circumstances and relationships, and in another part of our life, the victimhood mentality does not take root.
Being stuck in the Victim mindset almost always means relinquishing power to others and outside circumstances. It comes with being resigned to the idea that life happens “to you,” and avoiding taking responsibility for your choices or actions.
As you take charge of your life and move beyond Victim consciousness, you might find that those you teamed-up with to keep the Victim mentality going will feel ignored and claim you have turned on them, in an attempt to perpetuate the DDT. They may say to you, “You see, you’re just like everyone else who’s against me.”
Stand your ground if you’ve been in cahoots with others who wallow in the Victim mindset. Refuse to bite and instead take responsibility for your life and your choices.
Transforming victimhood begins with flipping your thinking and asking yourself: “What is mine to do?” The important second step is taking responsibility and being accountable for your actions and words. You realize you have a choice about how you show up and live an authentic life, no matter the circumstances.
If you’re able to brave your way through this empowering transition, victimhood consciousness will transform itself one baby step at a time.
All people almost every day experience some sort of victimization from small annoyances to larger cultural systems. In TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)®, we acknowledge the reality of victimization, while standing as a Challenger to victimhood.