I’ve been recovering from a cold for the last week-and-a-bit, and I’ve really noticed how my thinking turns towards negative victim thinking when I feel particularly unwell. At the same time, over Easter I watched The Passion Of The Christ on TV, Mel Gibson’s brutal Catholocism-inspired glorification of suffering and martyrdom.
Taking it easy over Easter gave me time to reflect on whether martyrdom, suffering and victimhood should really be glorified. My conclusion is that while suffering can build patience and cause us to reflect on what is really important to us, martyrdom is overrated. It reflects a worldview that life is just about suffering and pain, often with some promise of reward in the non-existent afterlife, rather than to be enjoyed in the present moment.
After all, nothing is as bad as the smell of a burning martyr.
All my fears and anxieties rise to the surface when I think unhelpful victim thoughts. I notice that my body responds with stress and tension when I think things like:
- I’ll never recover
- Why me?
- It’s not fair
- This shouldn’t be happening
- Nobody wants to talk to me
- Nobody wants to spend time with me
- I’m not good enough
- I can’t take this any more
- I can’t handle feeling so anxious
- I’m running out of time
- I have nothing to offer
Negative thought patterns just make me feel even worse. They reflect a time in my early life when I was surrounded by people who saw themselves as broken people in need of saving, living in a corrupt world.
Lately I’ve noticed how subtle victimhood can be. Overt martyrdom like in Mel’s film is easy to spot, but subtle victim thinking can be a lot more insidious. Things like constantly looking for a new treatment, when I already know that I’ve explored widely and what I’m currently doing is working anyway; it just takes time.
I’m committed to converting my victim thinking into victor thinking. Given that the mind abhors a vacuum, each time I notice myself indulging in victim thinking, I’ll replace the negative thought with a positive one like: