Leland Clipperton

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

We’re all victims… Aren’t we?

This could be the most difficult article to read you’ve ever read!

Pretty much everyone I speak with has, at one time or another, felt victimized by another. Some have unknowingly created a mindset or perspective of victimization.  

We’re all smart people, right? So how does this happen?

It typically occurs predominately in close relationships; relationships where we think it shouldn’t happen… but does. Why? Most immediately respond by blaming and finding fault with the perpetrator of the behaviour that leads to the feeling of being victimized.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that real victimization does not occur, nor is it my intent to minimize, excuse or defend the harm that can be created by others… whether intended or not. This is to rather help better understand the why this victimization occurs in the first place.

Often when I’m working with a client in this situation I’ll at some point during their therapy question them about the role they may play in the victimization. Their immediate response is often to explain further what the other person did to them and to justify and defend why they should feel victimized… at the same time potentially feeling victimized by me in my bringing questioning them in the first place… being angry, feeling hurt, misunderstood… I often feel a need to remind the client that I’m not condoning the others behaviour, only to have them stretch their insight and awareness to identify their part.

I’m often asked by clients, “What do I need to do to help myself not get into a similar situation again? … How do I not repeat the same mistake?”

There are likely viable reasons and answers to why… and it takes courage to explore the possibilities
by going outside of what you think is the explanation. It also requires a highly skilled therapist to help with this process. I have found that a “tread softly” caring and empathetic approach is required. A trusting therapeutic connection must be initially established in order to provide the comfort level required to engage with this process.

First step is to identify and acknowledge how we may contribute to situations occurring.

It’s not that we consciously set out to have these things happen in their lives… in fact, quite the opposite. We are more often consciously trying to avoid creating or participating in conflict. As a result, we may find ourselves feeling like we’re giving in, giving up, being told what to do, how to feel, what not to do, and generally not having our needs met. These feelings and resultant acquiescing behaviour are justified by the need to avoid perceived or real conflict. And by the way, not an abnormal occurrence!

It is a very normal defensive response to redirect or deflect fault and blame. As human beings, we’re not comfortable with the concept that we get up in the morning, rub our hands together like Snidely Whiplash thinking, what are we going to do today to f**k up our lives!!!! Why would we do that???? That’s self-harming, self-sabotaging and… well insane!!!! Isn’t it?

The second step in the process is to better understand that we can not change or alter another’s behaviour…

So, if we want a situation to be different, the only remaining choice is to change something within ourselves, which leads back to step one… identifying and acknowledging the role that we may play that contributes to the situation. If you want to be more able to recognize your sensitivities and tendencies to be in problematic relationships, engaging in this therapeutic help is likely necessary.

History does not have to repeat itself, unless we continue to allow it to! I’m not convinced that we can eliminate the underlying human condition to be self-sabotaging, however I do know that with appropriate work, awareness and time, we can learn to become more self-aware which will help in minimizing the occurrence of feeling victimized. 

Leland Clipperton
mobile - 905 510-9117
office - 705 999-2107
skype - CounsellingandMediation


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  2. Thanks for the useful information. Your article is beneficial for us and those who are searching for self esteem counselling.