Please read this book yourself if you, or someone you know, had a difficult childhood which they’re still stuck in. These summaries encapsulate what I got from reading the book, there’s plenty more in there which may benefit you.
Some people have horrible childhoods – a portion of whom will overcome the difficulties of their early years and a portion of whom will stay in victimhood. Why? Dr Laura says victimhood is the result of bad habits and she gives a list of bad habits people have which keep them in victimhood:
In other words you see yourself as a victim, it’s like a calling card which attracts ‘like’ people and the attention, compassion, understanding and sympathy which come with being a victim. To leave that behind can feel risky, being identified as a victim is a bad habit.
Very few people want to be cruel or callous, if you tell them a sob story you’ll probably get a group of friends who will cater for you and attend your ‘pity parties’. In reality they aren’t helping you recover, by saving you the pain of moving on they’re helping you stay a victim. The rewards are a habit.
You get used to the familiar, dysfunctional routines and refuse to give them up. A victim would rather lurch from trauma to trauma than to get out of their comfort zone and heal. The routine of being a victim is a bad habit.
The victim has a point to prove and will hurt themselves or others to get back at their parents (or the carer who abused them). Perhaps they’ll flunk college to get revenge on an overly critical parent, or cold, dogmatic parents have a promiscuous (rebellious) daughter to deal with. Revenge is a bad habit.
Some victims resent anyone else being happy “it’s alright for you, you haven’t had the raw deal I’ve had” kind of attitude. Friends and relatives cannot ever satisfy or comfort the victim, they have to hide their joys and commiserate with them instead. The victim becomes a dependent burden on other people, which is a bad habit.
Blaming your childhood means you never have to blame yourself, you need never take responsibility for your own decisions. Think of a woman who chose her husband and when the marriage went bad she blamed her mother; “how could I choose a good man with her as a mother?”. It was her choice, by using her mother as an excuse she absolved herself of any responsibility. Making excuses is a habit.
7) Avoid Challenges
Wounded souls are often excused the work of challenging themselves. “She’s had a tough life, of course she can’t trust her husband with all that emotional baggage” for example, but trusting your husband is a challenge we should all undertake – it opens the door to intimacy. Avoiding challenges is easy, but it’s a bad habit.
8) Centre of the Universe
Victims need to be looked after, and they don’t have to think of other people’s needs or feelings. Everyone treads carefully around the victim so they don’t upset them or “set them off”. It’s a position of power and a bad habit.
9) Change is scary/hard
You learnt how to survive as a child – perhaps you learnt crying/shouting got you your own way, or sulking made people apologise. Maybe you were taught to be quiet and be a ‘good girl’ who didn’t assert herself, or you had to be a people pleaser lest your parents shouted at you. But as an adult these learned behaviours have a price, yet it’s frightening and difficult to overcome the psychological barriers between you and healthy behaviours. Fear of change is a habit.
In summary: It is hard to leave the past behind you, especially if you were the victim of a bad childhood. But it’s the only way to build a good, healthy, adult life.