The Victim Mentality: Why we actively attract problems into our own lives.

“For those of us who feel challenged a lot, it’s important to understand why we keep attracting stressful, traumatic, repeating events, or certain people, into our lives. Most people think that it’s our bad luck, bad karma, or perhaps it’s someone else’s fault that our path feels so hard. We might look for a target to blame for our misery. We slowly slip into the victim seat.”- Jayson Gaddis

The backdrop

My – all-knowing,  infinitely wise and supremely benevolent –  older sister Amanda has told me on multiple occasions that when it comes to relationships I sometimes tend to set myself up for long term failure. And much like all the other psychoanalytical statements that my mum and sister make about me, this too took me a few years to eventually understand and accept.

So what did she mean?

Well, the thing is, most of the time when I tell her about a woman I am interested in, somehow there always seems to be a “but” involved. i.e

  1. “She is really great but she lives in North Korea with no intentions of leaving the country.”
  2. “I really like her but she is a convicted felon and is still doing time at a maximum security prison”
  3. “We get along so well but we don’t share the same beliefs and despite my pleas, she has no desire to leave the KKK“
  4. “She is really amazing but she is technically a he and while he identifies as a she right now, she still has her he parts so when we want to she-he it’s more like he-he and well I mean it’s just a little bit awkward for me you know..?”

And so on and so on.

Coincidence or Self-sabotage?

On the one hand, it could all just be very coincidental. Maybe it just so happens that I involuntarily end up falling head over heels with people that I may not have a definite, long-term future with. On the other hand, it could also be a subconscious thing that I unknowingly do to myself in an act of self-sabotage, so that eventually when things don’t work out I have a perfect scapegoat, allowing me to point the finger at everything else but myself. 

Aside from the slightly exaggerated and completely fictitious examples I gave above, there are many other ways that people tend to attract unnecessary problems/challenges into their own lives:

  1. Staying in a job that you clearly don’t like.
  2. Starting unnecessary fights and arguments with others.
  3. Maintaining an unhealthy relationship, platonic or otherwise i.e:
    1. Trying to turn an asshole into a BFF.
    2. Trying to turn a “hoe” into a “housewife”.
    3. Trying to turn a “fuckboy” into a “family man”.
  4. Jumping at every opportunity to get offended by those around you.
  5. Studying towards a degree in a field that you have no interest in whatsoever.
  6. Attracting sickness into your own life.

My battle with health: attracting sickness into my own life

A personal note on the point 6 above. Over the past few years, I have been having an on again off again battle with my own health. It is mostly centered around what I eat and how my body reacts to it. I’ve somehow developed a number of food sensitivities and my body and skin tend to viciously retaliate when I consume certain foods and ingredients. This has been annoying and extremely infuriating and it has subsequently lead me to do a whole lot of research on various medical and health related topics. I have been on every diet known to man, bought all herbal products in the known organic universe and I have attempted all the detoxes in the detox dictionary. Yet, to this very day, not a single week goes by without me finding myself deep in an online rabbit hole, either reading up on a Q&A forum or watching some random youtube video. One day I found myself watching some guy explain how he drinks his own urine (disclaimer below) and how it helped him with a certain ailment that he was experiencing :(. Ladies and gentlemen, it was at this point that I knew I needed help.

“Hi my name is Ben and I’m a hypochondriac”…”Hiiiii Ben!!”.

So this health battle that I have been heavily engaged in has been my core focus for a while now, to the extent that a large part of my identity is actually deeply entangled within this victim-oriented narrative. “I can’t eat this, I can’t drink that. I must be on this medication. I need to go to a Dr again. I’m not normal. Poor me, poor me, poor damn me” etc etc. I am being 100% honest about my afflictions as I really don’t have time to pretend to have a health condition. But after going through a number of these feeling good again/feeling bad again cycles, one starts to wonder where to draw the line between what is actually happening to me and what I am actually doing to myself.

The epiphany

Recently I started improving again and everything was going breezy for a while, but as I was monitoring my progress on a daily basis, a part of me deep down inside started to feel extremely void of purpose and meaning (over and above my usual nihilistic sentiments about life), because I had nothing negative to focus on anymore, I had no upward battle to fight and no strong current to swim against.  So instead of feeling good that I was doing better, and focusing this surplus attention on other positive things. I began feeling worried, skeptical and extremely scared that I might not actually be able to keep it up. Little did I know, I was unknowingly subscribing myself to a self-fulfilling prophecy. So lo and behold, a few days later the issues gradually returned in full force and now here I am, back fighting the same battle that has been plaguing me for years. #facePalm #smh #fml

Facing the truth

So while it is not an easy thing to come to terms with, I realized that I should accept that at times I could actually be the cause of my own downfall. Simply because a part of me – however small and unconscious this part may be – may actually still want to be sick/angry/disadvantaged/struggling/unhappy/lost/confused/*insert negative outcome here*

Why on Earth would we attract negative situations to ourselves?

1. It gives us something to focus on:

Let us face it, we were all involuntarily born into this meaningless world. So if we have nothing positive to actively strive towards, then we will end up holding onto every negative person, outcome or situation that we can get a hold of. Simply because this indirectly gives us a reason to live. Pretty sadistic, right?

2. We love fostering an “us vs them” mentality:

This is a tactic that is used in many different aspects of our daily lives, usually by entities (people, companies or entire countries) that are trying to motivate the masses. You only need to look briefly into religion (the Devil vs God, Heaven vs Hell, the righteous ones vs the heathens), politics (a large part of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign was blatantly focused on bashing all the other candidates. I.e “Crooked Hilary”) and the world of advertising and marketing (“buy our product, not theirs, we are better, they are useless”) to see it at play. It is much easier to rally the troops when there is a common enemy to fight against.

3. We try to distract ourselves from other issues:

Life is not easy and there always tends to be something going on. So sometimes in an attempt to distract ourselves from problem A, B, and C, we then create and subsequently focus on problem D. It is all very psychological and most of the times we don’t have enough self-awareness to figure out what we are actually doing. At its core, it is a coping mechanism and a self-defense tactic utilized by our brains. At the end of the day, at our core, we are just animals and a lot of what we do is either for the purpose of self-preservation or propagation of the species.

So aspiring master Ben, younger brother of the great, wise and ever benevolent one, what is the way forward? how can we save ourselves from complete and utter self-destruction?

Well my all-knowing sister hasn’t yet shed any light on how I’m supposed to conquer this complex of mine but I will give you my own 2 cents based on my recent realizations:

I think we need to make it a habit to abstract ourselves from the happenings of our daily life, think deeply about the negative situations that we continuously tend to find ourselves in and ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. Are we in any way a contributing factor to this issue?
  2. What role do we play in the creation of these problems?
  3. Are we secretly thriving off of the negative energy brought about by these self-imposed challenges?

We need to understand that a lot of the issues and challenges that we find ourselves in are completely unnecessary. We need to rise above our ego’s thirst for complications and proactively seek comfort and solace in positive outcomes, situations, and people. We also need to understand the difference between a positive natural challenge and a negative self-imposed obstacle.

Remember: “You get to be a victim once and after that, you’re a volunteer” – Naomi Judd

Interesting reads:

  1. Why we attract hurtful patterns into our lives – Jayson Gaddis
  2. How to recognize negative relationships in your life – Vladimir Elie

**Disclaimer: No urine was consumed in the making of this blog post…. or ever.


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