I want you to be really honest with yourself. How many times have you played the victim on something just to get attention or empathy?
I think most of us do from time to time, especially when we don’t feel like we get the acknowledgment for our efforts. We shout out the things we do. We play up how bad we feel about something. On any given day, these are things that we might not say or do but today, something made us feel like no one was paying attention to the effort we put into life, our jobs, our relationships.
Playing the victim isn’t something that has to be extreme. It could be as simple as saying “I had so much to do today”. Translation: “My life is busier than yours so please appreciate that I made the time to see/talk/listen to you.” I know that this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, saying that you had a lot to do today is really just that. You had a lot to do today. But sometimes, maybe it’s not the case. Maybe it’s really a way to seek some acknowledgement for your effort in whatever it is you’re doing.
Think about it this way as well. There is one day where you get to go do something you’ve always wanted to do and you’re really excited. There is another day where you have to fulfill some obligation that isn’t the top of your priority list. What are the chances the same exact cold will make you feel worse the day you have to do something you don’t want to do whereas you’ll survive fine the day you get to do something fun?
Another way I’ve watched people play the victim (or done it myself) is where they silently martyr through something they don’t want to do so they can resent someone for having to do it and then later, throw it back at them. That sounds healthy, doesn’t it? Especially when you add in years of being friends or living together. I see this a lot in marriages in our Indian culture. Why be unhappy when we can find a way to make ourselves happy? Maybe we should one day explore that idea of it’s easier to be unhappy than to be happy. But we’ll save that for another day.
And then comes the day where playing the victim doesn’t sound like much fun. There are 2 ways to get attention: play the victim or just be interesting while living your own life. That’s when I decide that I’d rather find a way to be happy in my own life and not worry about attention at all. There have been a few months recently where playing the victim was all I could do. Then, recently, I decided that this way wasn’t going to work for me. I am now working on ways to enjoy myself regardless of everyone else.
This doesn’t mean I don’t fall back into a pattern that I’ve seen so much throughout my life. I do. But awareness is the first step to solving a problem. And one of the goals of life is to be happy throughout the journey as well as at the destination. So I will take that first step.