Victimhood: n. “the condition of having been hurt, damaged, or made to suffer, especially when you want people to feel sorry for you because of this or use it as an excuse for something.” (Cambridge Dictionary)
What’s On My Mind?
Memories of blaming my parents, my environment, and other people for my toils. Victimhood was cathartic. I’m sure you can relate to receiving statements of pity and gratifying gifts from friends and/or strangers for crying wolf and/or playing the blame game. However, victimhood is debilitating and soul sapping. Here are some consequences of adopting this attitude.
- It quells ambition
Past suffering can paralyze progress. You may ask yourself, “Why be ambitious if I will suffer again? Is diligence, productivity, and achievement worth it?” Doubt and inertia may ensue from pondering these questions and wallowing in your past woes. Before you know it, you may become nihilistic. At that point, nothing matters.
2. It obliterates accountability
In some situations, you are not accountable for your misfortunes. This is the case for victims of sexual assault, natural disasters or life’s tragedies. However, in other situations, it’s fair that you take accountability for the outcomes of previous or current mishaps. For instance, you have a midterm and you choose to “study” 3 nights for it. You receive an F on it. Even if the midterm was objectively difficult, you failed to prepare thoroughly for it. Why curse out your professor then? If anything, look in the mirror and curse yourself out.
Not assuming accountability for outcomes within your control may engender impetuousness. You don’t feel accountable for the squalor in your neighborhood, so you mindlessly litter. No one explicitly blamed you for the high rate of STDs, so you still have unsafe, unprotected sex and perform coitus interruptus. You realize that your community is destitute, yet you still loot and steal from store owners because your face and name was not on Eyewitness news.
Impetuousness breeds barbarism. Once that happens, chaos becomes the norm.
3. It disrespects God.
God presents you opportunities to right your wrongs. Unfortunately, the shroud of victimhood can blind you from recognizing those opportunities. Instead of optimisim, you experience despair. Instead of expressing gratitude for your blessings, you express resentment.
What’s even more heinous is that it incites you to seek validation or to demand help from others. You forget to ask yourself, “What talents has God instilled in me?” When you don’t ask that question, you are likely to not recognize and subsequently exercise your God-given talents. By not doing so, you don’t self-actualize. To not self-actualize is arguably a slap in God’s face.
How to overcome victimhood?
First, practice honest introspection for as long as you need. Scrutinize your circumstances. Ask yourself, “Who is accountable? My parents? Other groups? My enemies? If you respond with “Me!”, your heart may burn like someone pressed a hot iron on it. Accepting accountability for the state of your circumstances stings and can even make you cry. However, it is a necessary step.
Then, accept that life is tough. Suck it up. It is filled with joy and misfortune. We all have experienced both and will continue to do so for as long as we live.
After accepting that, then there may be “nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in your own toil, since that is from the Hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24). This satisfaction can arise from receiving an A on a difficult exam after studying and reviewing material for 3– 5 hours daily for weeks. It can manifest as the joy a mother experiences after given birth, despite months of anguish and anxiety. God allows pain, so that we can gain; overcoming adversity builds character. Reaping the fruits of your labor engenders resilience, productivity, and self reliance: traits that are important to living a fulfilled life.
Simply put, do not succumb to victimhood! Rebuke it! Use your gifts and shine!