Up to What Point Is Victimization Tolerable?
At first, people tend to feel empathy for human suffering. We may also find ourselves in contact with people who are suffering from a true depression, who don’t desire victimization nor seek approval; who are simply passing through a difficult time and have a fragile state of psychological health. We should be patient and understanding, and show love to these people, because they are truly in need of it.
Nevertheless, on occasion someone close to us may adopt an attitude of self-sacrifice and praise for self-suffering, also known as the “Martyr Syndrome”. This is done with the intention of manipulating the emotions, thoughts and conducts of those who surround them.
These are people trapped in a mentality of victimization, caught up in a feeling of powerlessness, hyper-vigilance and an evident susceptibility, which takes them to the point of making any common issue into a personal matter for which they feel continuously offended. So, up to what point is such an attitude tolerable?
How to recognize a self-victimized person
Self-victimized people tend to follow certain general patterns, which we can identify in order to help us deal with them more adequately:
- They always expect to be rewarded for their efforts, and offer themselves willingly to withstand pain and abandonment, in hopes of finding recompense of some sort for their suffering.
- They find themselves trapped in a state of mind in which they cannot simply conceive joy without it being linked to a certain degree of sadness of suffering.
- Sometimes they take other’s desires into account before their own, but with the underlying intention of gaining something, be it some sort of recognition or expression of gratitude for such a gesture or for their work.
- On occasion, when gratitude doesn’t seem to be sufficiently explicit and immediate, they lash out with arguments which regard others as being selfish, and not valuing the effort that has been made for them.
- They tend to hold strongly and determinedly to certain opinions or perspectives, which makes it very difficult for them to understand other versions of a given situation.
- They can accept an explanation, but only if it includes certain repentance or an apology of some sort. Therefore, it is clear that they give, expecting to receive (even if only regret).
How to treat a self-victimizing person
Once you’ve realized someone is a habitual self-victimizer, you have several options that can help you to deal with this person and relate to them, or contrarily, to bring your relationship to an end. If you decide to maintain a relationship with a self-victimized person, you may decide to:
- Ignore this attitude in the person, because they make up for it in many other ways.
- Begin to ignore the person completely or relate to him or her the least possible.
- Decide to talk to the person and try to solve the problem, understanding the reasons behind such an attitude.
If the self-victimizer is an important person in your life, you will likely try all possible forms of solving the issue. This means you must make them conscious of what it is you expect and want. You must avoid entering in personal territory as much as possible. Explain what is happening to you in your relationship with them, but not as though treating one of their own personal, internal problems, as this would likely hurt them.
That is why the staging of the conversation is important. It should take place when you are both relaxed and not immediately after a misunderstanding of some sort. Once the right setting has been chosen, we must “take the bull by the horns” and confront the situation, communicating our discomfort. It is important to explain the following issues:
- Express that they are free to set limits regarding other people, and that, far from being offensive, they will be creating more balanced relationships in their surroundings. If they want to say “no”, it is absurd to say “yes” only to regret it afterwards.
- Doing things by force makes us waste time we could have spent on other things we would enjoy more and which would produce the same amount of benefit in the end.
- If they feel bitter or used after doing others a favor, maybe they didn’t act out of good will, but out of their own need for approval and recognition.
- Explain that they are living in unnecessary suffering. Remind them of all the other good things they have, and which appear in them spontaneously, with no need to undergo stress.
- It’s possible they may feel guilt, remorse, anger or depression due to something in the past. You may try to get them to open up with you, since that will be the only way in which you can better understand them.
- Make them see that they are already noble as they are, and that it is also your personal opinion of them, so they have no need to try and prove it any further.
- It is good for criticism not to be unilateral. Assume responsibility for not having been sincere from the beginning, and this will help to balance out the situation.
- You can talk to them about “our internal criticizer”, which manifests itself more in some people than in others; explain that this may be their case.
Stop trying to be perfect, and simply work to overcome. Take initiative, correct errors, and imagine a life without suffering. They must allow themselves to live a healthier lifestyle. To get to know themselves. To live in the moment without feeling they must constantly sacrifice themselves for someone. All this will help to distance a person from their self-assumed position of victimization, and everything they are currently dealing with.
From victimization to responsibility
Many times, one conversation can change everything. It can improve a person’s life, and their relationship with you. Unfortunate attitudes are often based on pain, a lack of constructive social skills and an imperative need to receive love and understanding from others.
Give such a conversation to whoever is willing to accept and receive it. If they continue hurting you, then the moment has come to terminate your relationship. As the saying goes, “One may be nice, but not a fool.”