How to Stop Being a Victim

Rev. Deb Koster

June 9, 2024

Do you feel like you are always the victim of others' bad choices? Or perhaps someone you know often acts as a victim of their circumstances. It is easy to be caught in the narrative of feeling trapped in a frustrating situation without any good options. But that narrative is not the whole story. Things may not always go our way, but most of us are not actually prisoners of our circumstances. We have options at our disposal, even if they are not our first choice. We still have control of our choices. So how can we start to rewrite our victim narrative and find ways to take control of our lives heroically?

Become your own caregiver

Choose to tune into your own needs and practice self-compassion. Stop waiting for someone else to do it for you and take the initiative. If we can see the wounded child within us, we can have empathy to re-parent ourselves in compassionate ways that we may have missed in our upbringing. We can learn to protect ourselves by creating wise boundaries around those who would take advantage of us. We can enlist the support of wise counselors to help us heal from past trauma. We can practice lifegiving self-care that heals our souls.

Use your voice

We may believe that our voice doesn’t matter to others, but each of us has a unique voice and story to share with the world. Choose to assert yourself and use your voice. You can't tell others what to do, but you can share your perspective and choose your own actions. Ask for what you need and set clear boundaries. If we have been in the role of a victim, it will be stretching for us to find our voice again and find the courage to be vulnerable. God has blessed you with a unique voice and calling for your life, choose to embrace these gifts from God.

Set aside bitterness

In victim mode, we hold onto bitterness and resentment. Choosing to forgive means releasing our need for vindication. It frees us to live our lives instead of being imprisoned by our pain. The load of pain we carry can be set down with the healing power of forgiveness. Lewis Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Forgiveness frees us from the tremendous weight of pain and replaces it with peace.

Set aside shame

Shame is the negative story that tells us that we are unworthy. While guilt tells us we have made a mistake, shame tells us we are the mistake. God tells us that we are loved with an everlasting love and nothing can ever separate us from that love (Romans 8:35-39). Anytime shame weighs us down, it is important to challenge those negative thoughts with the truth of scripture.

Recognize your power

We step out of victim mode as we take ownership of the control that we do have. We can choose to stay silent or speak up. We can make choices to establish healthy boundaries or walk away from the situation altogether. We can choose joy even amid challenging circumstances. We don’t always have control over our circumstances, but we have control over how we respond. Our attitude toward life is always within our control.

Take responsibility

We can stop being victims when we take ownership of our choices and act responsibly. It is easy to blame others while ignoring our own contributions to a difficult situation. Victims blame everyone else and choose helplessness. We can begin to weigh our options and make wise choices with the options before us. We can own up to our mistakes and seek to make things right when our actions have impacted others.

Seek support

Enlist wise counsel to heal from the pain of the past. It takes bravery to explore the painful parts of our lives to engage a healthier narrative as we move forward. Perhaps the support you need is to leave your toxic environment and go to a shelter. Seeking support could be choosing to call the police when addictive behavior around you turns toxic. Maybe you need a trusted pastor to help you see God at work in your life. Perhaps you need a trusted friend to listen and empower you to make wise decisions. Victims are isolated, but heroes build community.

Embrace testimony

Our story of God’s faithful presence in and through hard times can help to carry us when life is messy. We will find healing when we can see our story with greater perspective. Can we see ourselves as the villain or hero of our story? Shifting the narrative helps us to discover healing for how we have been the villain as well as strength for being the hero. These storylines are important for us to make sense of where we have been and find a more constructive path forward. In all these things, God is at the center of our story: loving us and guiding us. We don’t need to be a victim; God loves us with everlasting love, and we can never be separated from that love.

About the author — Rev. Deb Koster

Deb Koster is a producer, writer, and speaker for Family Fire. She is also an Innkeeper at The Parsonage Inn in Grand Rapids, MI where she leads marriage retreat on weekends. After over 20 years as a Registered Nurse, she completed a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained as a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church. Deb and her husband Steven enjoy doing ministry together and they are the parents of three awesome young adults.

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