Understanding and Releasing Victim Consciousness

I am always unlucky in life

Always stuck on the bad side

Always feeling all the pain

And always in some discomfort

I am the victim of heartbreak

I am the victim of loneliness

I am the victim of harassment

I do not enjoy being the victim

No one does

(Brett W., 2016)


The crisis events of the last few years, including the COVID-19 pandemic, destructive leadership, conspiracy theories, violence, racism and terrorism have been traumatizing and victimizing.  These events and more, bring increasing importance to the understanding and healing of victimization and victim consciousness.    

Victim vs victimized:

In one way or another, most if not all, human beings have been victimized by events such as abuse, bullying, poverty, racism, addiction, and untold misfortunes coming mainly from the world outside.   It is a serious and all too common miss-step to go from the act of being victimized externally to experiencing oneself as a victim from the inside; powerless, trapped, misunderstood and unloved. 

As a psychotherapist I have come to appreciate that one of the most challenging and heroic of all human journeys is to recognize, own and heal the feelings and experiences of powerlessness and victim. Rather than unending suffering, the individual turns inward, gains insight, takes responsibility for their healing, and releases victim and blame.  This shift of consciousness is a hard-won trait of adult maturity.  

Three Examples:

-The individual consumed with anger and self-pity because his son put a ‘hold’ on visits with the grandchildren because of his out-of-control drinking.

-The woman in her late 60’s, depressed and no longer interested in life.   Having lost her youthful beauty, male attention and the social life that came with it, she closed herself off and withdrew from life.   

-When I met M., she was dealing with end stage cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.  She explained that her cancer was no surprise; relating how she had spent years filled with anger, hurt and self-pity, literally hoping she would get cancer to get back at her husband for being so selfish and neglectful.   She knew she could think herself sick, (it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’) and when she did, her husband would realize how selfish he was and what he had done to her.   Remarkably, she sought therapy and came to realize that she, not her husband, was responsible for her illness.  In the end, M. took responsibility for her life and stopped all blame. She heroically released victim and its’ destructive grip.  After years of suffering, she found peace.    

Signs of victim and martyrdom:

-Complains and projects blame.  

-Doesn’t take personal responsibility. 

-Feels wronged ‘Woe is me.’


 Steps to release victim:

-Acknowledge the truth to yourself that you feel wronged and victimized.

-Acknowledge that you have been hurt and want to retaliate.  

-Remind yourself that hurting another and holding resentment keeps you trapped in a never- ending cycle of suffering. 

-Consider: Is there a more forgiving and empowering way to view or reframe the way you are seeing the situation?

-Forgive the other ‘Father they know not what they do.’

-Forgive yourself.  

-Express your hurt and anger non-destructively.

-Resist taking personally what others say and do.  

-Seek help.

Affirmations to release victim:

-I choose my thoughts.

-I am in charge of my life.

-I am powerful.

-Life is good.

-I am amazing.

-I create my reality.

-I seek the truth.

-The truth will set me free.

-Every obstacle is an opportunity.

-Life is exactly the way it is supposed to be for my highest good.  


The experience of feeling victimized and the belief that one is a victim is not confined to external circumstance.  It may have its origin in external events and it may stem from internal negative self-talk.  Regardless, it is disempowering and damaging to the self and others.  There is no redeeming value in victimhood; it destroys self-esteem and relationships and is a lie perpetuated on ourselves.  Remember always:  If it doesn’t feel good it isn’t you! 

Comes the Dawn:

After a while you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

And company doesn’t mean security

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

And presents aren’t promises

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head up and your eyes open

With the grace of a mench not the grief of a child

And you learn to build all your roads on today,

Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,

And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns

If you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, 

Instead of waiting for flowers.  

And you learn you really can endure 

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth

And you learn and learn…

With every goodbye you learn.

(V. Shoffstall claims authorship)

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