Let’s start with some good news – you are an overcomer! Say that again, my friend. As a believer, you are made for more. So much more than you want to believe at times. Through the price on that cross, you were given a pathway to victory!
However, in all honesty, playing the victim can be an easy trap to fall into. It doesn’t help that we currently live in a society that promotes selfishness and bends to victimhood at every cost. While there are real victims that undergo drastic tragedies and can overcome them, that is vastly different from one who is playing the victim card. This hand is usually played with selfish intent. While it may be a means to be understood and gain support, it can take a nasty turn and target our precious hearts, damage relationships, and misinterpret our identity found in Christ if we don’t seek healthier measures.
In John 16:33, Jesus tells His disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We are given a pathway to freedom. This powerful verse reminds us that we will encounter trials in this life, but we have a way to overcome them – Jesus is the answer!
So, What Does It Mean to “Play the Victim Card?”
I got a root canal earlier this week. As you can imagine, it was not the thrill of my day, but as I came home to disheveled children and a pile of laundry, I immediately felt the wave of annoyance wash over me. I was sore, I was tired, and I wanted my bed. So, my “victim card” kicked into overdrive. This “poor me” feeling came out in various forms. From a muffled yell at family members through a numb face to begging for a little help, not really noticing what was already being done, I placed blame and claimed they were not doing enough. In the end, I fell into an exhausted heap on the couch, moaning and groaning just loud enough to gain attention.
Playing the victim card means you expect others to see your need and understand your pain while matching your emotion. Then, you proceed to grow frustrated or hurt if they don’t provide you with the care you believe you deserve.
As you can see, this attitude and expectation can cause some friction and rub others the wrong way. This is why it’s important to notice the “victim” signs within yourself and in others. If we learn healthier ways to cope or create boundaries with a person who tends to play the victim, we are more apt to handle these situations with love and grace, just as Romans 12:18 commands us to do: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Ten Signs You Are Playing the Victim Card
Oftentimes, it’s hard to see our own blind spots. And honestly, we will all play the victim card at some point because we all long to be understood and find comfort in the midst of pain. However, we must also be aware of when we become self-focused, expecting others to fulfill us, because they will never fill us the way we truly need. (Hint: that’s where Jesus comes to our rescue.)
Here is a simple checklist to consider if you (or someone you know) is believed to be playing the victim. Ask yourself, do I:
Blame others for the situation?
Compare my struggles to others’?
Tend to believe the worst-case scenario, and that there is no way out?
Wallow in self-pity, sharing your hurt and pain with anyone who will listen?
Emotionally manipulate family and close friends to feel validated?
Become codependent on others and expect them to help anytime?
Lack responsibility and see things one way?
Feel attacked or intimidated when someone asks questions?
Exaggerate the story or situation?
View self as innocent and without fault?
Maybe after reviewing this list, you find you have some of these tendencies. However, by knowing that continually playing the victim will obviously hurt you and damage your relationships, let’s discover a few ways to combat that victim card and replace it with victory status. Below are some ways to help:
Realize that there are two sides to every story and try to understand how others feel. Take responsibility for your own actions and explore your own beliefs and feelings. Maybe start journaling to write your thoughts down to help you process a situation.
Do things that you enjoy to give yourself a different perspective and bring back joy into your life.
Forgive yourself and others. If you find that difficult, take those relationships to God and ask Him to help your heart let go of the pain.
Treat others how you want to be treated. It’s okay to ask for help or share your story, but be aware when you are repeatedly asking the same person for help, as it will take advantage of their kindness and cause tension in the relationship.
Tell yourself that you are an overcomer. Take your heart to God and have Him remind you of that truth. Get quiet and dig in His Word to be filled with His goodness.
What if you are the support for a person playing the victim? While you can be a source of hope, if it becomes something that is on a continual basis, it can be emotionally draining. Here are some graceful, loving ways to gently handle a person who is playing the victim card, all while guarding your own heart:
Tell them how you can help, but establish boundaries. Oftentimes, you have to be upfront and honest about what you can and cannot do.
Listen to their story but keep your guard up. Try not to pick sides or offer a solution, just bend an ear.
Put judgments and opinions aside. When only hearing one side of the story, it’s difficult to form an opinion on the matter.
Know when enough is enough. If your limited support doesn’t seem to be helping them, invite them to seek counsel or outside assistance.
Take care of yourself. If it feels as if this person is taking advantage, it is okay to say no.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
Jesus encountered many trials in his life. He was often seen as an outcast and misunderstood. He was ridiculed and mocked. He wept in a garden and pleaded with God to take this cup of death from Him, all while knowing His fate (Luke 22:42), yet He didn’t waver. He didn’t use excuses to get His way or expect others to feel and understand His pain. He didn’t blame God or others. He chose to overcome the world with love, grace, and goodness. Jesus was a victor. And as believers, we can follow His example and be victorious too!
My friend, don’t allow your circumstances or trials to control you. Don’t believe the lie that others are causing your pain. Don’t let the victim card or the deceiver win, you are an overcomer – believe it!
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/digitalskillet
Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.