Getting out of that pit of despair in the Mood Curve is a struggle on the best of days, and nearly impossible on the worst. It is really easy for us to allow our circumstances to define our perspective. The pit of despair is a place where the Victim circle can thrive, we can easily end up casting blame and fighting for ourselves, instead of laying ourselves down for the sake of loving others. It’s easy to do, I struggle with defensiveness and blame when I am in the Victim circle, it’s easier to point the finger at someone else (usually the person closest to me) than take responsibility for myself.
The thing that really defines the Victim circle is that it revolves around ME. It is about people, life, and circumstances affecting ME. We think that if those things will just change, if our jobs were easier, or our spouses praised us more, if my coworker did what I wanted him to do, I would be alright. If all of my expectations were met, life would be bliss. The problem with this perspective is that our circumstances aren’t always going to meet our expectations, people ARE going to let us down, and life WILL throw us curve balls. If we are always living for the mountain tops we will miss what God is doing in the valleys.
I had a conversation with a really good friend of mine a few weeks ago, the last time we had spoken she had been going through a really hard time. She was struggling with one of her students at work, and was studying for a really big test. She had already failed it once and was worried she wasn’t going to pass. This time she was GREAT! The child she had been struggling with at work had been moved over to another colleague, she had passed her test, and she was gearing up to go on a trip at the end of the week. She was on the mountain top.
We started talking about what true contentment looks like, and she realized that even though she is in a really good place right now, she is still a victim of her circumstances. If she had failed the test, or was still struggling with her student, or wasn’t about to go on a big vacation would she be on the mountaintop right now? Or would she still be in the pit hoping that her circumstances would change?
The only way to live in true freedom from the things around us is to take ownership of the part that we have to play. We will never be in control of our circumstances, life, or other people, but we can control a couple of things. We can control our choices, our attitude/perspective, and who we trust. That is all. We get to choose whether we will live as victims or walk in freedom. Viktor Frankl was a holocaust survivor whose wife, parents, and brother were all murdered in Auschwitz. He survived and was freed from Dachau concentration camp at the end of the war. After all he had been through, and all the loss he had suffered he was still able to acknowledge his ability to choose. The following is a quote from his book Man’s Search for Meaning:
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” – Viktor Frankl
What are some areas where you might be living circumstantially? What are some victim circle behaviours that you struggle with? Entitlement, complacency, comparison, defensiveness, blame? How can you take ownership of the things you can control?
You can still be in the valley and walk in freedom; it just takes some self-awareness and ownership. The victim circle is not a tool to be used for pointing fingers at people and calling them victims, it is for creating awareness of our current reality so that we can step into healthier patterns and behaviors that reflect Christ.