A Story of Resolving the Victim Pattern

The victim pattern and the responsibility capacityIn a previous blog,¬† I told the story of Sandra, who had received some “tough love” from her friend Jill, who pointed out that she seemed to have a Victim Pattern.¬†This is a continuation of that story showing how she overcame it.

Sandra did not like what she had heard, and at first, she felt blamed and angry. But as she calmed down and kept thinking about it, she realized that she knew Jill to be a fair person who would not lie to her or criticize her without a very good reason.

Sandra started exploring the Victim Pattern and saw that the capacity she could develop was Responsibility. She decided to ask her adult daughter Sheila for some perspective.

SANDRA: “When I told Sheila about the idea that I might be stuck in a Victim Pattern, she confessed to me that she had often felt frustrated with me when she was growing up because she thought I gave up on trying things too quickly. She also told me that she felt upset that I was still blaming her father for our divorce.”

SHEILA: “My mom would just look at something, like our new dishwasher for instance, and gripe that she didn’t know how she was supposed to figure out how to use it. Even as a kid, I had a hard time with that because it just didn’t seem like that daunting of a task. I also learned that if I wanted help trying something new, I shouldn’t ask my mom. She would just make me feel more helpless, or she would get angry and find some way to make it my or my dad’s fault.”

Hearing this, Sandra decided that she wanted her daughter to be able to be proud of her. She decided to work on developing her Responsibility Capacity, and stuck with it for several months.

SANDRA: “I felt uncomfortable sometimes, trying new things and not asking people to help me right away. My sense of anger came up a lot. I really have had a big habit of getting mad that people aren’t helping me. I noticed, as I practiced, that I wanted to revert to my old methods. I discovered, under my anger, that a part of me feels safer when I can get someone to do things for me. But the first time I figured out how to update my bookkeeping on my own, I felt pretty excited. It’s a cool feeling to think about being able to make my own way in the world without having to rely on manipulating someone else into taking care of things.”

Even Sheila noticed a change in her mother after these months of practice.

SHEILA: “When my mom started talking about wanting to get a resume put together, I felt my stomach clench. Normally she would manipulate me into doing it for her. But this time, she came to me and asked if I could direct her to some online resume resources. She asked me questions about how I had done mine and what had worked for me in getting interviews. I could tell she really wanted to learn!”

Sandra kept up her practice and discovered that she had more curiosity than she had realized.

Developing the Responsibility Capacity helped her feel more interested in life, and she is currently apprenticing with a florist who appreciates her investment in learning. Sandra hopes that she will find a job this way, but she also feels good knowing that no matter what, she can take ownership of her future well being.