This is a life changing book from the authors of 'Don't say yes when you want to say no'. Simply because it is a book about how easily we fall into victimland and screw up our lives ourselves. Firstly the authors make it clear how we are emotional victims by making us aware whether we are really victims or not (most times we try hard to be victims). They then give us behavioral therapy techniques to identify triggers and change our behaviors.
Question. Do you feel exploited by your family and friends? Unappreciated at work? Feel the world is being unfair? Most times in these cases you are choosing to be a victim. The idea is that things happen to everyone but how we choose to respond to life is what makes us a victim or not. They give an example of two people who get cheated by their stock brokers - one does nothing and feels victimised and loses everything and the other fights back with a lawyer and gets back his money. Which means the less of being a victim means the better it is for you. No one can control what happens to them but they can control their reaction to it by following the process of 1) Recognition 2) Rethinking 3) Retraining and 4) Reevaluation.
The four types of emotional victims are 1) the exaggerator - one who magnifies reality 2) the kick-me victim - sets self up for victimisation 3) the misperceiver - sees himself as a victim when actually he is not by misperceiving anything (the sky is blue can be misperceived as a slight) and 4) the know-not victim - doesn't even know you're a victim. Once you identify your type you can work on your behavior, blocks and then your unconscious.
Victims are so because they have been - brought up to help others at their cost, seek love outside because they do not love themselves, encourage people to pick on you, are used to being a good loser and a bad winner, somehow get into trouble because of their naivete and take a no-win situation as a way of life.
The most common candidates to become emotional victims are - the childhood trained victim, self effacing person (feels of unworthiness), the person with the need to suffer, the victim of the Abel syndrome, the naive dependent, the person with the special victim needs.
The key then is to gain control over your reactions. To do that you must deal with the three fears that make you a victim 1) the fear of being you 2) the fear of doing frightening things 3) the fear of being aggressive.
To get out of victim land set realistic but not self-defeating goals. Other ways are - don't be part of a punishing pair (punishing each other), learn to identify a victimiser and understand the effect of the unfairness factor.
Primarily 'do what you want to do.' Unfairness serves as the core of victim feeling. Victims carry the cross and romanticise it until they get to a state when they say - to hell with it and change it.
Families are a great place to learn. In each family there are roles - the responsible one (the doer), the star (favorite), the forgotten one (no one notices), the clown, the manipulator, the critic (finds fault) and the scapegoat (the real victim). Each of us can carry these roles into our lives.
Here's a small family quiz.
1) Was your family authoritarian, laissez faire, democratic?
2) How is the atmosphere today - in your family, with your spouse and children?
3) Who had the most power? Who actually wielded the power?
4) When did you feel victimised?
Adult children can turn their parents into victims.
Other tips - Ask yourself - will I respect myself if I say YES or NO?
- Set limitations for yourself and others
- Be direct
- Practice independent thought and action
Make a victim problem inventory - all the things that make you feel like a victim. (Mine are - can't say no, don't clearly say what I want and expect others to understand, become passive aggressive, perceive greater slight than there is or sometimes perceive a slight when none exists, exaggerate small things and choose to hurt myself, find meanings in things that are not said or meant and hurt myself instead o looking at facts and reality, use a perceived unfairness in another place and get back at it in another manner. I need to watch out for that.)
Analyse yourself in your interactions with impersonal relationships (sales people, service people, doormen, taxi drivers, strangers), at work (superiors, peers, subs), social (same sex, opposite sex, acquaintances, friends), personal (spouse, lover, children, family). In all these interactions ask yourself - How often do you feel like a victim, what kind of a victim are you, does it impact you majorly, your mood, does it influence your self image. Which is your area of greatest difficulty? Which is the easiest?
Now make a childhood history sheet for each decade. Write your victim stories - who made you the victim, what did you feel, any fantasy related to it, did it have a lasting effect. Do you feel good, superior, safe by being the victim.
The Dangerous Niceness Factor
The wrong concepts in the 'being nice' victims are that - they expect quid pro quo (it can come back but differently), they do something they want for someone else, have no niceness limitations, buy friendship by doing little favors.
Effective niceness tactics are
- let people be nice to you, do something for them from a sense of self pride and expect nothing, know that people pay back in their own ways, there are niceness limitations, always being nice can interfere, don't spend too much time doing favours for others that you don't have time for yourself.
Realise that you can be assertive, there is something called acceptable aggression and that you can develop the right attitude.
Psych yourself up 1) reorganise your winning feeling 2) find a trigger word for feeling 3) do lastminute psych up. Find ways to increase your psych up.
Stop thinking like a victim - get rid of your 'shoulds', your paranoid thinking (spot it, do a reality check, seek alternate explanations, don't anticipate disaster).
When dealing with victims - pay attention to warning signs, be aware when one is likely to become a victim, see how you collaborate to make yourself a victim, put victimisation in context
Translate self-smarts into action.
The authors give friendship fundamentals. Differentiate between - friendly connections, acquaintances, friends and close friends. Can you trust your friends with - money, minor practical problems trivial emotional problems, business secrets, family problems, sexual problems, promises.
Respect is mandatory. Understand that sometimes people do wrong things with the right intent. Accept little slights.
On the job
Being a victim does not pay at work. You have to assert yourself and recognise victim signs. Its not difficult and its not fait to be unfair to yourself.
Good inter personal relationships help on the job. Differentiate between job relations and close ones.
Our victimhood plays out most in relationships and it can mess up good relationships. The time you could have had having a good time you spend in victim land. To become aware of this the authors ask us to rank ourselves on - intimacy, passion, decision making, commitment.
Ask how much of each? Is it increasing or decreasing? Concentrate on the pluses. Know that you care. Accept tenderness, remember that partners wants may differ.
To understand them try role reversal.
Being a victim in sex is not going to get you great sex. Once again the authors ask us to recognise our victim patterns and address them in order to have super sex. Use dirty language, sex talk, handle sexual put downs. I found this most interesting - know that sex is not just intercourse.
There's a lot of places where we can end up being the victim and wasting our energy. This book tells you how to recognise when you become one and get out of that. I have been in victim land in many areas of my life and realise that its a waste of time and energy.Its just drama and nothing else. For starters I am hoping to recognise my victim patterns and start acting on them. Very timely.