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Victim Mentality

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by map76, Jan 21, 2023.

  1. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    @JanAtheCPA I quoted you from another thread.

    “as long as you see yourself as a victim of your past and current circumstances, you will not be able to achieve any level of healing or peace.”

    This speaks to my situation. I’ve had pain for 20+ years. A lot of my life feels like a compromise based on the pain limiting my choices: job, relationship, etc. I don’t love my job; my relationship is not great. I was 23yo, a former college soccer player, world at my feet when the pain started. I’ve tried to make the best of things.

    The idea of making huge life changes seems overwhelming. I honestly can’t imagine what my ideal life would look like without pain. Any suggestions on how to overcome the resentment and sense of being stuck?
  2. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Well known member

    JanAtheCPA and map76 like this.
  3. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Making huge life changes is not the only option. You can start incrementally. Each small success makes a huge dent in the burden of victimhood. Baby steps, baby! It goes very slow at first, but then faster and faster!
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  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    The idea that you are a victim of your pain and circumstances is really just one more negative thought planted in your conscious brain by your fearful, primitive TMS brain, in order to cover up and continue repressing negative emotions that your primitive brain thinks are dangerous to your survival. Thus the purpose is nothing more or less than mere physical survival.

    In other words, negative thoughts are a primitive survival technique, designed to keep us alert, worried, and on edge, so that we stay alive just long enough to breed the next generation. And that is ALL that they are. That's a pretty low bar, designed for primitive humans who didn't live very long, and it doesn't translate to any kind of quality of life in the modern world.

    Technically, you, and any of us, have the power to choose to reject negative thoughts and replace them with thoughts that are constructive and conducive to your mental and physical health. Note that I am not talking about false "happy face" thoughts, which is why I am not using the word "positive". The new constructive thoughts must be realistic and achievable for you, for where you are at in the moment.

    Here's a simple example from my therapist: when you're experiencing a symptom, STOP and BREATHE - remind yourself that your brain is in fear mode, and then notice that the message you are experiencing is something like "aaaack, I don't want this, make it stop, make it go away!!!!". Right?

    This is when you continue to breathe, and then find a way to change the narrative. Instead of "I don't want this!" think about what you DO want. This can be as simple as turning it around: "I want my (body part) to be free of pain".

    If you can contemplate and/or visualize a different reality, even briefly, it will calm your nervous system. The more you do this, the easier it becomes to shift into this mode.

    Victimhood is more subtle, and perhaps harder to address, especially if it is long-standing and/or developed in childhood, by parents who either see themselves as victims, or who turn their children into victims as a result of their own personality disorders. Again, you have to remember that all negative thoughts, including victimhood, are survival techniques, nurtured by the TMS brain mechanism. I expect that victimhood can also be a result of trauma.

    I think that the narrative of "Waaah, I'm a victim of xxx..." can be turned around to "I don't need to be a victim of this, because what is that accomplishing? What I really want is my life back!" However, that's probably easy for me to say, because I'm personally not into victimhood, and have always been able to reject it very quickly whenever I've fallen prey to it; and to be blunt, I don't maintain relationships with people who have victim mentalities. That's probably because I came from a functional family, which I don't believe is true for you, @map76.

    Have you ever looked into the ACEs test, as I've recommended a few times recently? Another member reminded me about it, and I think it's very useful to identify childhood trauma in people with severe and long-standing TMS. Also, are you still working for your emotionally abusive father and hating it? Final question: remind me what kind of serious and long-term emotional work you have done in the years since you first learned about TMS?
    MWsunin12, TG957, Ellen and 1 other person like this.
  5. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    @JanAtheCPA no, I have not looked into the ACEs test.

    Yes, I still work for my father’s company, and I don’t enjoy the job most days. But I make enough to support my family and have flexibility to take time off when I’m not feeling well. I could not maintain a job anywhere else due to missed time from pain and fatigue.

    I realize how the current job enables me, but I tried multiple careers before and either didn’t make enough money or my performance suffered.

    As far as TMS, I’ve done coaching with someone from Alan Gordon’s pain center, and am currently doing weekly coaching with Lin Health.

    I also did about 18 months of therapy with a psychologist.
  6. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Well known member

    How could you be unstuck in other areas of you life?
    I “get” the stuck. I burned out on several jobs. Have been retired for about 13 years. What I recognize now is that many of the variety of jobs I have done were by change, opportunity. Those I chose I really had a lot of negative self feelings. What kept me going is finding things that made me feel worthy (even tho I now realize I still felt a lot of self negativity doing them in the past). What, outside of your job makes you want to get up everyday? Has given you some joy? Given you inner satisfaction?
    I think your focusing on the job or career is a distraction to what the real issue is. Consider your self-talk around your career, job choices, “performance”.
    You seem to take your responsibilities seriously, you can take some time off “when you need it” - during that time what do you do for you? What do you do for you, period? Do you engage in fulfilling activities elsewhere in life so you can get the things you need? Can you open your mind to infinite possibilities?
    You can start this by wishing. A wish list doesn’t have to come true - I wrote many wishes down in a list. Some I eventually struck out or changed. Others kept coming to mind and stay on the list. Maybe I will do them someday. Just thinking of the possibilities makes me more flexible and open minded, less stuck most days.
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  7. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    Thank you all for the advice. I really, truly want to live without pain and fear, and do the things I love like exercise, music, and travel. I want to live with optimism and hope, rather than always worrying about the worst case scenario. I want to be a TMS success story so I can help other people conquer their fears and lead pain-free lives. I want it so fucking bad I'm crying right now just thinking of how amazing life could be.
  8. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Well known member

    You want things that are external, external things to make you happy: excercise, music, travel.. but what about internal things?
    That is where your answer lays.
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  9. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    @Cactusflower I appreciate the insight. I think I've spent most of my life grasping at external things. I suppose that is the problem, but I just don't know what to do about it.
  10. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    To truly go inside, there is no better route than meditation. I meditated my way out of chronic pain, and also found a more fulfilling life as a result.
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  11. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Well known member

    I agree with @TG957 - it is a wonderful learning tool about yourself, and your patterns.
    Sometimes I can meditate on my own for longer periods (I prefer slow piano or waves in my headphones) and sometimes shorter periods with a guide is more helpful. The biggest thing I learned from @TG957 is right when you feel you need to stop - and I mean your mind is really turning away from meditating, it's beginning to feel uncomfortable to be meditating, your mind is RACING - that is the moment you need to continue what you are doing. Telling your mind no, you don't need to stop. Everything is just fine, nothing needs to be done now, you are fine, and that you WANT to stay where you are. Everything after this moment is often the "zone" and it can often take time to get there and just breathe. Nothing more than breathing and disengaging from a busy life full of thoughts.
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  12. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you, @Cactusflower ! Love how you put it: "Everything after this moment is often the "zone" and it can often take time to get there and just breathe."
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  13. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    I have a really difficult time meditating. I have to reposition every 30 seconds or so with the intensity of pain. I was also close to going to the ER a few times because I started worrying about my breathing while meditating and the idea of it being a deliberate vs automatic activity. Obviously just anxiety, but it put me into a panic state about my breathing.
  14. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have been exactly where you are now with meditation. I went through several months of very hard work figuring out how to meditate without pain and stress over not doing it right.

    The trick is to find your own routine, but once you do - it works. I described my meditation practices and all the tips on how to find your own practice in my book in great details. Here it is: https://www.amazon.com/Defying-Verdict-Defeated-Chronic-Pain-ebook/dp/B0834Q46SM. It will be on sale for $0.99 beginning 1/29 for 1 week.
  15. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Well known member

    Consider too, that a big part of TMS is that we don’t realize the rigidity of our thinking. It’s like both the mind and body become inflexible. My tms coach would as me to begin considering everything with curiosity.
    It took me awhile to figure it out. Gently try to open the lid of the box to your mind to explore possibilities. So you find meditating on your breath hard. What is easier? How can you begin to train the mind to become more accepting?
    Find ANY more comfortable position. Sit, stand, lay down walk. Whatever. Experiment. Keep messages of safety.
    Eyes opened or closed? Your choice. Breathing freak you out, try pendulation. I learned this on youtube.
    Instead of focusing on the breath you start by finding one spot on the body that doesn’t hurt so much. Lightly put you mind there. How does it feel? Warm, cold, tingly, prickly. It is all fine. It is safe to feel sensations. Maybe you can identify this feeling with a color. You can draw a shape around it in your mind… now find a spot that is pain free, and do the same thing in your mind with it. Now go back and forth a few times from one spot to the other in your mind.
    This teaches curiosity, safety, flexibility and begins to slow thoughts. Just keep reminding yourself that feeling is safe. I spent a few months with this technique and could move it to my breath, eventually. The whole point is to just play with things and find your mojo. Not meditating? How about adult coloring? Stringing beads? Braiding? Anything with no purpose or outcome, no reason to do the activity other than to be.
    TG957, JanAtheCPA and map76 like this.
  16. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sitting meditation is not the only kind. I use a form of meditation called Active Mindfulness, where you take routine daily activities and do them mindfully. For example, washing dishes, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, walking. And using the Jon Kabit-Zinn definition of mindfulness as "non-judgmental awareness of the present moment". I find this activity very soothing.

    Yoga is also considered to be a form of active meditation.
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  17. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is all good stuff - but it's also too big, and too obvious, and, for where you are at right now, it's so far out of your reach that I could hear what you didn't say out loud, which is "I don't see how I'll ever get there".

    By reaching for "pie in the sky", you're allowing your TMS brain to convince you that these goals are not achievable. You MUST be willing to call bullshit on that, but at the same time you need to accept that these are very long-term goals.

    Remember when Tamara said "baby steps, baby!" in her first post way above? I did not clearly make the same point in my post, but in fact, when I said to change the negative narrative from "I don't want this pain" to "I want to have no pain in this body part" I was being 100% literal, and it's the same thing. THIS kind of focus on a small action is where you are, and where you need to accept that you are right now. Small steps, small goals, and small successes. For now, you need to focus on what is realistically achievable. Cactusflower has said the same thing in different ways. The message that all three of us are giving you is this: don't get hung up on the HOW (that's your TMS brain) - just find the strength to ignore the negative messages and focus on doing SOMETHING to create small changes.
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  18. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    A few more things, @map76:

    If you look back at your responses, there is a significant tendency to respond with variations of "Yes, but..."

    "Yes, but..." is the catch phrase of the victim, and it is a lovely device of your TMS brain to keep you stuck and negative while appearing to accept advice. I have named it YBS - "Yes, But... Syndrome", because it is SOOOOO common. You are not alone, believe me. I only point it out when I see it in virtually every response when good advice is being offered. It creates a vicious cycle, where new advice keeps being offered because the person seeking help keeps responding with "Yes, but...", leading us to believe that we just need to offer our information in a different way so that the person eventually achieves their "Aha!" revelation.

    Please, whatever you do, do not start beating yourself up about this. This is all a learning experience, and of course, as we here know, none of this is conscious on your part. The healthiest thing you can do for yourself is to have a ton of self-compassion for the fact that you have a very resistant TMS brain, undoubtedly as a result of having an emotionally abusive and controlling parent. These behavioral patterns were laid down a long time ago when you were far too young to do anything but protect yourself and try to survive. I said to call bullshit on your TMS brain in my prior post, but in fact you also need to thank it for trying to protect you, and lovingly reject the methods it's using, because they are no longer necessary in your adulthood, and that you want to find new, conscious, and adult ways of dealing with the current abuse your father still tries to dole out.

    The reason I recommended checking out the ACEs "test" is because it's a good way to see what you're really dealing with and get it out in the open. It only takes a few minutes (ten yes-or-no answers to short questions), although of course I recommend reading the associated article for context: Take The ACE Quiz — And Learn What It Does And Doesn't Mean : Shots - Health News : NPR which is also not long.
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  19. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    @JanAtheCPA I did the ACEs test and scored 3.

    I’m very humbled by the support you have all provided. I was having such an awful day and reading the comments from today gave me a little boost. I don’t know what helped in particular, and I don’t want to even speculate. I’m going to take the advice and start working on small things.

    @JanAtheCPA I appreciate the tough love. My initial reaction was to defend myself by explaining all the things I’ve done that haven’t worked, but I see how that is counterproductive.

    I have such a tendency to let doubt and fear thoughts creep in: “Maybe I’m not smart enough to figure this out? Maybe there’s trauma I don’t remember? Maybe I’m a bad person and deserve this?” That is just TMS keeping me stuck, right?
  20. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Doubt and fear are absolutely normal. We all, without any exception, have gone through this stage, and the only way to get out of it is to learn how to dispel fear and doubt. Otherwise, you will be forever stuck in the loop of fear and self-defeat. To do that, you should follow every piece of advice given you on this thread and start moving. If we could do it, you can do it, too. I occasionally teach a class on meditation on this forum, it is free and you are more than welcome to join if you are interested. I am planning on doing next one some time in March.
    But in my opinion, you may need regular sessions with a TMS coach or TMS psychologist, to push you out of the rabbit hole of the doubt.

    I wish you good luck and lots of patience!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2023
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