Overheard at a Risking Connection® training: "Well, you know Jeff. He just likes to play the victim."
What is wrong with talking this way?
How do we understand this behavior?
What can we do about it?
What is wrong with talking this way? Why did I cringe when I heard it? It is because of the blaming quality- the statement that Jeff likes to play the victim, as though it is a deliberate choice he makes every day among the many delightful possibilities open to him. Although minor in itself, it leads to an annoyance with the boy, a frustration that he doesn’t see how much better his life would be if he would just stop this.
How do we understand this behavior? When asked to describe Jeff further, the staff member said that he constantly uses his past abuse as an excuse for not trying or for failing. He also picks on other kids (instigates, to use a residential favorite word) and then blames them for whatever fight begins. So why would a kid do that? It is because he sees absolutely no possibility of success through competence. In other words, he has no confidence at all that he could succeed on the basis of his talents and natural skills. He has had no experience of being loved or appreciated for who he is. All the goodies of life and of relationships have come to him in the context of his problems, of reparations for his abuse, of sympathy for being picked on. That is the only way he knows to engage others.
So, what can we do about it? The road to change is through helping Jeff experience other types of competence and success. And this will be difficult, as he will be afraid to try things and will quickly revert to his old standby methods that have worked so well. But with patience staff can support him into positive experiences, achievements, maybe even triumphs. These must include positive interactions with peers, fun, play, every day social back and forth. He doesn’t know how to do this, staff must teach and model. It will take many repetitions for Jeff to believe that people like him for other reasons than his problems.
When Jeff experiences the possibility of competence and fun, we will notice that he "likes" to play the victim much less.
Loving Kindness Meditation for Self Care
3 years ago