Along with tying your identity to your anger, there is also a temptation to define yourself as a victim: once a victim, always a victim. This negative, fatalistic approach has its perceived positives. If you consider yourself a victim, you have a familiar template with which to evaluate yourself and your life. You can demand redress from others. You can remove any responsibility you have as an oppressor yourself. In this self-definition, you are always wounded, always entitled, always justified, always angry.
There is deep pain in being victimized by circumstances or people. This is a wounding event, a defining moment. The intensity of the trauma burns an image onto your life. To think otherwise would be to enter into the realm of denial, which is damaging and unhealthy in its own right. Instead, you need to integrate the bad things that happened to you into who you are; they are part of you, a part of your experience. However, when you integrate victimization into your view of yourself, you grant authority and control over your life and your future to the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.
When you say “once a victim, always a victim,” this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I understand the perverse comfort to be found in knowing what will happen next, especially if you’ve been hurt. If you decide, based on the past, that bad things will always happen to you, the at least you can be prepared. You’re ready, you’re on alert; you’re on guard. You are also anxious and defensive. On the constant lookout for bad things, you will find them.
Once you decide to look at life through this victim filter, you intentionally make yourself color-blind. You will be able to detect every insult, every injury, every heartache, every dismissal. Looking through this lens, you will cease to recognize the subtle shades of remorse, regret, and repentance and be blind to the circumstantial and the unintentional. Once this vision is lost, you compromise your ability to experience kindness, joy, gentleness, genuine delight. These emotions, though rich and rooted deep, are often scorched away like stubble in the burning heat of anger. Though not gone completely, it can take a long time for them to break through to the surface of your life again.
Once you have declared yourself a victim, it is an easy step to cross over into the concept of entitlement. After all, you are a victim, you have been wounded; you hurt and have needs that arise out of that woundedness. Therefore, because of this condition of crisis, it is your right to ask others to redress your pain. If you ask and they do not deliver, then you are justified in demanding. Your need for redress trumps any of their needs. You feel justified demanding your needs be met before anyone else’s, whether that person is responsible for your pain or not.
If you are struggling with deep-rooted anger or anxiety, our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE is skilled at addressing the symptoms today, but also unearthing and healing the root of the issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.