What has this past year taken away from you — or gifted you? How you answer that question will tell me whether you have the Victim saboteur controlling your mind, or if you’ve found Sage moments to appreciate the unexpected gifts and opportunities that have come from having your prior reality unplugged and disrupted by the unfolding of life, including circumstances stemming from the pandemic.
Activating the Sage brain shifts us to seeing that even when a death occurs or we experience a health crisis, economic hardship, or a painful breakup — even then — we can turn those circumstances into a gift and opportunity.
For years I’ve taught clients about the Dreaded Drama Triangle and the TED (The Empowerment Dynamic)* framework, wherein the Victim looks at the world with this feeling that everything and everyone are doing their best to get in the way, make life difficult and prevent plans and dreams from coming true. Life is happening TO them, and they feel powerless to do anything about it. I learned these powerful frameworks initially from my friend and teacher Marilena Minucci when I completed my Quantum Coaching certification with her. Later on, Marilena and I both went to Dallas, Texas to take an intensive training program with the creator and teachers of these frameworks: David Emerald Womeldorff and Donna Zajonc. While I have not actively maintained my status as a practitioner of their approach, I do often think of and share TED model as well as their 3 Vital Questions with clients.
STEP ONE FOR YOUR REFLECTION
I invite you to pause now, choose one unexpected change or challenging event from this past year, and walk through them in your mind using these questions. Please note that I’ve adapted the wording of these questions to fit this reflection exercise. To learn more about the original questions and underlying approach, read this.
- Where was your focus during an unexpected development or challenging event? In other words, did you experience negative emotions as you were triggered by what you perceived to be a problem? Or, were you feeling inspired to create positive or important outcomes that matter to you?
- How were you relating to yourself, to others, and to your experience during your chosen unexpected development or challenging event? Was the way you were relating producing or perpetuating more negativity and drama? Or, were you relating in such a way that you inspired and empowered yourself and others to be more resourceful, resilient, and innovative?
- What action (or inaction) resulted from your response to this unexpected development or challenging event? Did you shut down? Were your reactions knee-jerk and negative? Or, were you taking creative and generative action that supported your ultimate goal, dream, or desired outcome?
If you’ve been reading my email newsletters and blog posts this past year, you know that I’ve had many milestone moments on my own journey where I shifted from Victim mindset to Creator mindset. Using the 3 Vital Questions approach in the moment helps me to stay oriented toward my ultimate goal and let go of details and aspects of the process that ultimately do not matter.
In other words, using the vocabulary and orientation of Shirzad Chamine’s Positive Intelligence mental fitness model, I’ve learned how to shift from Saboteur brain to Sage brain. The reality is that I have a very low Victim score on my Saboteur assessment, which rings true for me: I rarely if ever forget to consider “hmmmm, what might I ultimately learn from this situation?”
How This Works in Everyday Situations
When I attempt to book a house on AirBnB and the app crashes or suddenly the days I want to book stop being available, I pause and consider: “hmmm, I wonder what other amazing place we’ll end up staying, or if the dates of our trip now need to change to accommodate a new experience?” Ultimately, what transpires reveals or results in a better outcome. Over time I have learned to let go of the frustration and “why is this happening to me” Victim mentality.
When a seemingly perfect prospective client chooses to work with another coach, I may experience a brief flash of disappointment, but I know that person’s whole life path is in some way tied to working with that other coach. It’s not about me. In addition, the space created in my own schedule often allows in a different client or opportunity that I otherwise would have been hard pressed to fit in.
When my laptop crashes and I lose the draft of an email it took me 45 minutes to write, yes, sure, of course, I get frustrated. But then I take a deep breath, walk away from my computer to take the dog for a walk, get a cup of tea, or do some meditation. When I come back, if my laptop is working again, I get curious: “I wonder why that email was not meant to be sent? What new realization or development will come to be, that helps me understand why it was not the right time or necessary at all?”
STEP TWO FOR YOUR REFLECTION
Pause now and refer back to those situations you examined above in Step One. Write down (or make a mental note about) how they ultimately turned into gifts. Or, instead, you can write down 3 to 5 everyday road blocks or frustrations or losses that ultimately turned out for the better — these could include what initially appeared to be computer/smart phone technology failures or meeting/event cancellations or power outages or even minor illnesses.
Stop Victim in Its Tracks
The Victim saboteur is often easier to spot in others than in yourself, no matter its numeric value (or strength) in your own Saboteur assessment result. To improve your ability to catch Victim in action and stop it in its tracks, I invite you to read on to learn the typical lies it tells you, its tell-tale characteristics and how you avoid its painful influence by shifting to Sage.
Negative Characteristics of the Victim Saboteur:*
Whether you’re thinking about another person’s Victim, or you’re becoming more aware of your own, keep in mind that someone with a strong Victim saboteur may embody one or two of these characteristics on a regular basis. You don’t need to see all of these in your saboteur behaviors to have a strong Victim.
- If criticized or misunderstood, you tend to withdraw, pout, and sulk.
- You are fairly dramatic and temperamental.
- When things get tough, you want to crumble and give up.
- You have repressed rage that results in depression, apathy, and constant fatigue.
- Your attachment to having difficulties is subconscious.
- Having emotional problems, or being temperamental and sullen, is a common way you seek attention from others.
Any of the above sound familiar, within you, or within another person you know? As painful as it may seem, being able to see and name these traits are a critical step in beginning to weaken the negative influence Victim has on you. Let’s look next at the common thoughts the Victim voice tells you.
Common Words the Victim Voice Whispers (or Shouts) in Your Ear*
How can you catch Victim trying to control your mind and actions? Listen for words like these in your mind. And if you really want to get into character with Victim, cross your arms across your chest, make a pouty expression with your face, furrow your brow, and adopt a whining quality of voice as you read these words in your mind.
- “No one understands me!”
- “Poor me.”
- “Terrible things always happen to me.”
- “I’m different! No one’s as disadvantaged or flawed as I am.”
- “I wish someone would rescue me from this dreary mess.”
Victim also truly believes “I am what I feel.”
How Victim makes you feel*
- You tend to brood over negative feelings for a long time.
- You feel alone and lonely, even when you’re around people you are close to.
- Regularly, you experience feelings of melancholy and abandonment.
- Envy is a common emotion, and you frequently make negative comparisons between you and your circumstances and others.
As the Victim saboteur is “sometimes associated with a childhood experience of not feeling seen and accepted”, it often develops “a strategy to squeeze out some affection from those who would otherwise not be paying attention” to you.* With this type of developmental background and influence over you, it can be a particularly tough saboteur to weaken. It is quite slippery, so read on to become aware of what it will say to you to justify its sabotaging behaviors as a perceived necessity for your survival.
Victim’s Slippery and Damaging Justifications*
- “Maybe this way I get some of the love and attention that I deserve.”
- “Sadness is a noble and sophisticated thing that shows I have exceptional depth, insight, and sensitivity.”
The negative impact of Victim on your own well-being, as well as the damage it causes to your relationships can be profound. Let’s look into this further so you can more easily catch this saboteur in the act and stop it in its tracks.
Victim’s Impact on You and Others*
- It wastes vitality by focusing on internal processing and brooding.
- It backfires by pushing people away.
- Others feel frustrated, helpless, or guilty that they can’t put more than a temporary BandAid on the Victim’s pain.
It may be difficult to imagine that underlying all these troubling traits and painful impacts, the Victim has some incredible strengths. In the words of this model’s creator, Shirzad Chamine, “a saboteur is the price you pay for overusing your greatest strengths.”
Strengths of the Victim*
If you work with, or are part of an intimate family or friend relationship with a Victim, supporting them in activating their beautiful Sage brain will allow them to strategically utilize these important gifts:
- Sensitive to one’s own and others’ emotions: feels them deeply and clearly, including “difficult” emotions.
- Introspective: Capable of deep and courageous introspection and self-discovery.
- Individualistic: appreciates the uniqueness of oneself and others.
- Perceptive of nuanced inner workings of the mind and capable of using that to connect, teach, inspire, or heal.
This last strength really resonates with me, because the world needs MORE people who are present enough to do this important work of connecting, teaching, and healing. Don’t you agree?
STEP THREE FOR YOUR REFLECTION: IDENTIFY AN ARCHETYPAL VICTIM
I’ve found that if I can think of a real life person I know who regularly behaves in the way of a particular saboteur, it helps me to remember what I need to watch out for. For you, in this moment, I encourage you to pause and consider who you know who is often thinking like, acting like, and all around living life like the Victim saboteur. This could be a friend, colleague, family member… or a person in the public eye such as a musical artist, actor, Youtuber, news anchor, politician… even an historical figure who is no longer living.
Who do you know who truly embodies the Victim saboteur?
Preempt Your Victim Saboteur
Ultimately, once you know enough about how Victim shows up for you, you can preempt its negative influence. If you’ve already taken the Saboteur assessment and followed the steps above, skip to step 5 below to preempt the Victim saboteur.
Steps to Weaken Your VICTIM saboteur:
- First, confirm how weak or strong your Victim truly is: take the 5-minute saboteur assessment here
- Then, read the detailed online assessment report to build awareness of the full picture of saboteurs that are strongest for you so you can catch the negative thoughts and feelings to intercept the saboteur and stop it in its tracks
- If you want a more personalized analysis of the report, I invite you to meet with me for a Saboteur Diagnosis session at no cost. SCHEDULE HERE
- Practice PQ reps and the Sage perspective, critical foundational practices from the Positive Intelligence mental fitness model
- Pre-empt your Victim in this way: Imagine a situation in the next 24 to 48 hours of your life in which your Victim might spring to life and try to manipulate you. Hear in your mind what the Victim voice might say to you, then pause. Take 3 deep breaths, each with a 5 second inhale and a 5 second exhale. Then, visualize in your mind a more positive and creative way to respond in that situation. In this way, you are pre-training your brain how to respond to those circumstances using the Sage brain.
Let’s come back to the very first question I asked you in this post: What has this past year taken away from you — or gifted you? Now that you’ve learned more about the Victim saboteur and reflected on your own situation, what would you say? And by swapping out a critical word in the question “why is this happening TO me”, you can now ask yourself: “Why is this happening FOR me?”
It takes guided, dedicated work in the beginning
As I wrote about in my previous post, the research conducted by the Positive Intelligence team revealed that it takes 6 to 8 weeks of intensive practice at least 15 minutes a day to increase the gray matter in the Sage parts of the brain and decrease the gray matter in the Saboteur parts of the brain. The good news: this work to weaken your saboteurs literally changes your brain. Taking the assessment and building awareness of how the saboteurs show up in your own behavior are important foundational work. But if you want real change and the ripple effect of cascading benefits that come from this shift, you must take the foundational mental fitness course and continue this practice to build the strength of your mental muscles.
How will you benefit from weakening the Victim saboteur?
When you use your Sage brain and the strength side of your Victim, you love yourself unconditionally, you stop judging yourself and others, and you experience your highest level of performance, much greater creativity, and sustained happiness. Don’t believe me? Check out the research led by my teacher Shirzad Chamine and his team at Positive Intelligence that was done with more than a half a million people in 50 countries that is the foundation of this model.
To read about the overall Positive Intelligence model and foundational mental fitness training program, I’ve included an overview of the model on my website. To read past blog posts about the other 9 saboteurs in the model, click on one of the links below. Moving forward, I’ll teach you about the Sage perspective and each of the five Sage powers – what you must strengthen to experience sustained happiness and to realize your highest level of success and performance.
*Source: Shirzad Chamine and his Positive Intelligence mental fitness model. Erin is in the process of competing her certification with Shirzad and his team.