A few years ago at a seminar for emotional healing, a group of us were in the hallway waiting for the next session to start. We were all proud that we had survived our traumatic experiences over the years.
We walked into the session unprepared for what was next. As the speaker explained the new principle we were learning, we looked at one another. Why should we be surprised that each one of us had operated in survivor mode and were manifesting the symptoms of a “victim mentality?”
I was filtering my experiences through a ‘victim mentality’ mindset that created a distorted view of life. A person with such a mentality, expects bad things will happen. They consider themselves a perpetual victim.
Because of this perspective, they twist the most innocent things as a personal attack on them.
Even the good things are bent out of shape. My perception of life being hard was reinforced daily because of this mindset. Endurance and perseverance were key to weathering the storms of life that never seemed to end.
My identity was completely wrapped up in surviving the next trial that I believed would certainly show up.
This lens of fear distorts how we see and feel and we become weak and vulnerable to our emotions.
Sometimes I wondered if my ingrained fear was attracting these negative situations to me. Satan knows our weaknesses and I believe fear draws his attention. He can smell it and his appetite is stimulated to mess up our lives (1 Peter 5:8).
To deal with the victim mentality I had to deal with my past. The Apostle Paul says the key to pressing on to God and the future is forgetting those things that are behind us (Philippians 3:13).
With seminar leader’s encouragement, I created a mental image of a junk pile and visualized myself walking down the path to it with my wagon of emotional baggage in tow. There was a lot of stuff to dispose of.
In my mind, I was now standing in front of the junk pile. I hesitated. I needed to decide once and for all if I would let it go.
I faced the people in my life who had wounded me. I forgave them again and treated them with respect — as if nothing had ever happened. It would always be my choice to remember that I had forgiven and forgotten.
One by one, I picked up an unpleasant memory and threw it on the pile of rubbish. Flames consumed my junk.
I visualized walking back down the path back to where I had started my journey. Looking back one last time, I could only see ashes and smoke.
There was no one to blame or be angry with. I had made it so.
Holding on to my woundedness and reliving unpleasant memories kept me in the past and perpetuated the belief that I was a victim and that life was hard.
Fear made me view the world as hostile and threatening, but God declares that He has good plans for our lives and not evil ones. I needed to believe the truth of His Word instead:
“For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not evil, to give you hope in the final outcome.” (Jeremiah 29:11 Amplified)
From time to time, those old memories return to haunt me and I need to remind them of this burning.
Recognizing the root of our fear, acknowledging it and then dealing with it is vital for our mental emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.
Having let go and dumped all my stuff on the junk pile, I was free to move forward as I shifted out of survivor mode and started to thrive.