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Are You Stuck in Victim Thinking?

The whistle blew to line up for the water balloon toss.  4 year old Kerrington excitedly ran over to get in place.  As the rules were explained, my niece came running back looking very worried.  I got down eye level and asked what was wrong. “Well,” she said with her hands and arms waving expressively, “first I thought, I don’t want to get all wet!  Then I thought, I don’t want to even get a little wet.  Then I thought, I don’t want to get wet at all!  Then I thought, HOW DO I GET OUT OF THIS?” I thought to myself, “I ask that all the time.”

I spend a lot of mental energy figuring out how can I get out of this? I’m not actually planning steps to get out of a bad situation. That would be constructive, take action thinking. My mindset is “I’m stuck! and I can’t do anything about it.” This is victim thinking: I don’t have control over my life; I feel sorry for myself and I’m full of excuses why I can’t do anything.

Colossians 3:2 Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert…See things from God’s perspective. (Message Bible)

Victim thinking is shuffling along, eyes to the ground.  My world gets small and my thinking is self-absorbed. When I notice myself asking, “…how do I get out of this?” it’s my signal to ask, “Why do I feel stuck?” Here are my typical answers:

  • I didn’t speak up:  Whether I was avoiding conflict or being a people-pleaser, I didn’t speak up and voice my opinion or desires honestly.
  • Fear: I’m afraid of something.
  • Self-protection: I’m holding back in a relationship, trying to keep myself safe.
  • False Guilt: It’s my fault that someone is upset.
  • Blaming: It’s someone else’s fault for the mess I’m in.

Look up and be alert!  Recognizing wrong thinking and facing it honestly is my first step out of the quicksand.

Then, I can ask God to help me see things from His perspective.  

  • His way is truth and light, not hiding my voice. I can speak honesty and directly with others.
  • He is hope – not fear.
  • He offers His protection and promises to walk through struggles with me.
  • I am designed to need people. It’s healthy to let others care for me.
  • I’m not responsible for the actions or reactions of others.
  • God says He works in my life for my good.  What’s the good hidden in the struggle?  Can I even see my situation as a blessing?
  • Thankfulness: It’s a powerful way to break out of the stuck feeling.
I am created with a free will.  I have the freedom to choose – my actions – my reactions. I AM NOT STUCK. When my circumstances seem bad, instead of daydreaming about getting out, I can use all that mental energy to choose to make it better.

Sue is the author of

Books available at:    www.grandma-sue.com

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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