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I’d like to tell you that I’ve never engaged in feeling or acting like a victim, but that would be a lie. There is a satisfying pleasure in feeling unjustifiably wronged. But it doesn’t do us any good as a mental dwelling place for any length of time. Making ourselves feel powerless never contributes to emotional health or to our evolution into “normal” eaters.
I was reminded of the perks of victimhood when I recently read a description of its satisfactions in a novel. The author aptly describes the joy of victimhood as “righteously enraged and tragically victimized.” Of his aggrieved character, the author writes, “Happiness made Marv anxious because he knew it didn’t last. But happiness destroyed was worth wrapping your arms around because it always hugged you back.” This description has echoes of troubled eaters’ mistaken perception of food as a best buddy.
The truth is that those of you who survived dysfunctional experiences in which you truly were victimized emotionally, sexually, physically or by neglect, most often in childhood, were afraid to enjoy or depend on happiness. Happiness played hide-and-seek with you and how long it lasted was often out of your control, leaving you with a yearning for, as well as a fear of, it. Unfortunately, there’s a strange kind of pleasure and satisfaction in feeling wronged and it can become addictive.
Due to excessive victimization as children, some people have never seen themselves as anything but victims, and cling to its perceived power. Many long ago gave up on ever embracing true empowerment and have made due with the pseudo-power of feeling like a victim. Others fight like hell when the feeling overtakes them, but can’t seem to view themselves in any other light. Some occasionally try on other personas only to relapse into victimhood because this identity makes them feel safe and slips on like an old, comfy slipper. That said, few of us consciously enjoy feeling like victims.
Remember, other people may have made you into a victim way back when, but only you can make yourself into one now. How does your embrace of righteous rage and tragic victimization ruin your life? How does it sneak up on you and snatch away current happiness and empowerment? How does it distort reality and blind you to happiness? How does it make being a “normal” eater more difficult? Consider how victimhood affects your life, then state how you wish to feel about yourself that is the antithesis of being a victim and remind yourself of your new conviction every day. After all, what you believe is a guarantee of who you become.
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