Are you a victim?

This week on the Inner Circle, we are exploring the role of "the Victim" in the Dreaded Drama Triangle. This is a particularly interesting (and sensitive) topic, as one of the main characteristics of the Victim is to always remain blameless. Plus, they hate to be challenged or confronted!

I particularly loved this article featured on Therapy Ideas (which is a phenomenal resource for relationship improvement podcasts, by the way), which breaks down each of the roles in the DDT very succinctly and accurately. I have used some of Rhoda's analogies below to elaborate on the subject of the Victim.

How to identify a victim

Victims are easily manipulated, but they are also very manipulative. Although victims like to remain blameless, their passive-aggressive and powerless attitude means that they directly influence how an interaction or a relationship plays out (spoiler alert: this is not usually a happy ending!). Let's take a look at this example:

Every manager, at one time or another, is faced with the dilemma of an employee who won't take responsibility for her mistake or who is hypersensitive to constructive criticism/feedback. In fact, this employee is likely to be negative and pessimistic to most situations around the workplace. As a result team members will be reluctant to collaborate with the Victim on projects, meetings are less likely to be productive, and customers may be turned off by her lack of problem-solving skills and indecisiveness. In turn, this same employee will start feeling overwhelmed, unable to cope, depressed, and wanting to isolate herself from her colleagues. Definitely, something you don't want to occur in your organization! 

But there is hope.

Meet the Creator

A victim in the DDT tends to focus on what they don’t want (i.e. complaining). To empower this individual, you need to help them make a change to focus on what they do want and then encourage them to take a series of small steps to get there. This may seem like a minute and perhaps obvious task, but it represents a tremendous shift in perception for the Victim.

A Creator's responses are based on thoughtful evaluation of the situation and then choosing appropriate steps toward an outcome, rather than reacting from a problem-focused orientation. Let's look at our example from earlier in a new light:

As a manager, instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your Victim's work ethic, identify a goal that you would like her to achieve and then highlight the skill set that you think she has to succeed at it. Together you can chart the course of action and develop a series of project milestones along the way. Victims relish in the opportunity to shine and constant praise and motivation can go a long way in helping break the cycle. Remember, you have the power to create the employee (or team) of your dreams! 

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Key take away

Remember, whenever you notice you are complaining about something, you have slipped into the role of the Victim - acknowledge this, accept it, and take the steps to transforming into the Creator.

Could you be a Victim?

While it may be a tough pill to swallow, being able to self-identify your shortcomings and take the steps to overcome them is a huge accomplishment. Use these 20 questions to determine whether or not you set yourself up to be a Victim in the DDT:

  1. Is it easier for you to stay silent instead of asking for what you want?
  2. Do you believe the lyrics of the old Dean Martin Song; You’re Nobody Until Somebody Loves You? So you end up feeling bad about being single.
  3. Would you be convinced to leave your friends behind ending up isolated?
  4. Are you too committed to pleasing others?
  5. How desperate are you to be loved?
  6. Do you swallow your anger?
  7. Are you able to say NO, and to set limits & boundaries?
  8. How over responsible are you?
  9. Do you suffer from exaggerated guilt?
  10. Do you feel appreciated in your own life or are you hungry?
  11. Do you end up feeling lost in relationships?
  12. Are you afraid to disagree?
  13. Are you an extreme caretaker who does not take care of yourself?
  14. Are your relationships follow a lopsided pattern where you do too much catering to the other person?
  15. Do you apologize so often it’s become a habit?
  16. Are you easily taken in by others, perhaps a bit sappy?
  17. Do you allow others to suffocate your own spirit or creativity?
  18. Is it easy for you to hang onto false hopes & ignore your own suspicious inner voice?
  19. Do you minimize your problems in relationships & avoid addressing them?
  20. Are you too eager to forgive?

If you're a Victim, I would love to hear your thoughts, challenges, and wins in the comments section below.