Ok, so what do I do about it?
Here we go and lets get right down to it!
Mental Chatter versus Emotions

Victim Behavior is associated with many emotions, Shame is probably the most prevalent. Feeling overwhelmed is another. Feeling shame and being overwhelmed isn't particularly useful-
so let's divide and conquer by breaking this down into 5 bite-size steps: Summary

Step one- Identify your dysfunctional characteristics -- habitual (recurring), problematic behaviors.

Step two- Prioritize them, making the first characteristic the one that causes you the most shame, embarrassment, guilt, etc.
Choose only 3, for now.

Step three- Choose an effective strategy:
You will discover in the 3 dysfunctional characteristics you've selected, where your boundaries are weak or non-existent.

We typically have boundaries in four areas - intellectual, emotional,
physical and spiritual. The spiritual boundary assumes you're not atheist/agnostic - if you are just skip this one. It will be obvious that I'm not, but don't' let that stop you.

We’ll include several strategies to help you begin to develop healthy boundaries.

Step four- Read Your Body. Here we'll describe a useful alternative to the standard intellectual strategy of affirmations. Intellectual affirmations can be very effective, but we'll describe additional, highly, effective
tools for you to use. "If a hammer is the only tool in your toolbox, all of your problems tend to look like nails"

Step five- Relapses and Expectations. Of course self destructive behavior patterns are painful. Of course when we commit to making changes we want it fixed as soon as possible. Not everything we try will turn out the way we want it to every time. It isn't particularly useful to dwell on kicking ourselves- do the first four steps first, we have some effective strategies to handle relapses.

Step One- Identify

Look on the list below to see which one (if any) of these characteristics you know for sure that you do that shows Victim Behavior Characteristics:

- Adult Child of Alcoholics Characteristics
- Codependent Characteristics

Step Two- Prioritize

Number the top 3 (we can work on the others later, if you find more than 3, )- Ok there's where your boundaries have holes (or are weak or non-existent)

A boundaries purpose is to defend the self. Let’s look at that word: The “self”- a small word, kinda fuzzy, almost too *all encompassing*, the word "self" could be taken to mean lots of things that we're not trying to say here.

Let's make it easier- oversimplified maybe, but useful for now- a boundaries purpose (or our purpose right now) is to defend your self esteem/ self image.

Before we get too bogged down in semantics, suffice it to say it's arguable that self esteem and self image are related, but not exactly the same thing.

What I'm about to say might not be technically accurate, but we're boiling stuff down to what's useful, right now, lets just say that one is a verb (?self esteem) and the other could be a noun (?self image).

What we’re after is to enlarge your current definition of what self esteem means to you, to make some room, if you will.

Step Three- Choose a Strategy

Ok, you've selected 3 items to work on (places where your current boundaries are not useful in protecting your self esteem), This is where you need to focus on building up:

* your sense of self
* how you care for your self
* how you feel about your self
* and so on- you fill in the blanks where applicable

The most common definition of a boundary is a limit, an imaginary line where you end and others begin.

Adult Children of Alcoholics ( ACOA’s) often report a lack of sensation, a numbness where their sense of self is. Quite often the concept of self-care may seem foreign to a person with whom dysfunction has been a constant companion. More often, thoughts about sense of self are swept under the rug, glossed over…not really given much thought because at a dysfunctional person’s core, they don’t really believe they deserve a capacity to love themselves.

Victim Behavior and dysfunctional patterns are often accompanied by addictions.
Here is a quote from a recent post to a yahoogroups recovery mailing list that sheds some light on the topic:

I think the level of shame an addict feels is directly proportional to the amount of empathy he/she has. Sometimes addicts feel FALSE remorse, which can feel like true shame. I have felt both. Empathy by the way, can be learned.

If you’re having a hard time feeling self-love, you can choose to look at it as empathy as self-care. ACOA’s usually have no trouble at all feeling empathy for others. Simply direct it toward yourself.

It may feel funny at first. That’s OK.

Rather than make this a big huge giant problem, keep it simple. Work on building up those specific areas where you seem to have problems caring for your self. Victim behavior can be overwhelming, especially discovering that you had toxic shame, and don't even know it. That can multiply our negative feelings about ourselves. Before we were in a kind of ignorant bliss- stuff was wrong, we just didn't know what.

Now we know where to fix it and what to fix. We picked just 3 things to focus on.

Now for some strategies:

You might make dramatic changes easily, sometimes just awareness can create desired change, or you might find change a little difficult-

Get yourself some tools to assist you. N.L.P has a concept that all we can hold in consciousness is 7 +/- 2 bits of information at one time- Seven Chunks of data. So, lets limit ourselves to focus on 3 specific items and make progress one step at a time.

* If you have God as a resource in your life, here's where you want to start praying for help in this area

* If you have an AA type sponsor, here's where you want to ask for help.

* If you want to combine AA/ 12 step principals AND the technology of Neuro Linguistic Programming, the buy John Bradshaw's "Right Brain Healing- the Jesus Nature". I personally think that's Bradshaw's best work.

If you DON'T have a 12 step sponsor...here's a neat trick I've used:

"What would you say to a person like you if you were your sponsor?"

Imagine you were a sponsor, and someone like you, walked up to you after a meeting- shared (your) their story and asked you to be their sponsor.

What would you say to (the other) you?

...this is so neat- people have little trouble taking someone else's inventory- so be that someone else!

Step Four- Physiology- Your Body

Emotions are located in your body, not your head. New concept.

You have emotions about where you let your boundaries get violated. You were allowing others to walk all over you when x, y or z happens...and you're allowing them to be down/ broken /undefended /vulnerable ect.

Those are probably shame, guilt, fear that you might not be able to fix this, anxiety, overwhelm...you fill in the blank(s). What ever your emotions are- look at those emotional body postures.

Huh? Your emotions have a corresponding body language, a ritual if you will, a ritual way of representing that particular emotion.

I'll explain- when you feel ___, you *hold* your body in a specific posture. Yep, you do. You have a *ritual* associated with all the corresponding gestures, posture, shoulders hunched down, head looking at the floor, facial muscles scrunched up...what ever you do- is what you've associated to that feeling.

The only way we feel anything is in our physical body.

Here- Why is it, when we think of a depressed person, we imagine that person's body posture is shoulders slumped, breathing shallow, facial muscles slack... go ahead, imagine a typical depressed person- what pictures does that conjure up?

Fixing this does not have to be hard! Find out what your specific body language is when you feel x, y or z and radically change what YOU do with your body when you feel that emotion.

"...Doc, it hurts when I do ___." (Doctor says) "...Then don't do that"

It's been said 80% of communication is body language.

If you've invested loads of energy, effort and time in altering intellectually your internal self talk, and not gotten very far... invest some time in altering your physiology.

Tony Robbins- "Emotion is created by Motion" Change how you move when you feel x, y or z.

Having said that, we don't mean that affirmations or other intellectual strategies are no good- but when we're talking about emotions it is more useful to start with your body.

Of course exercise can be an important tool, not to be ignored, but for now- discovery of how you manifest certain limiting/ painful/ not particularly useful emotions in YOUR body- discovery of your ritual ways of physically representing a repetitive emotional state gives you an excellent place to start to create change.

YOU are in the driver seat.

Step Five- Relapses and Slips. Not every we try is going to work all of the time. Codependents (children of alcoholics ect.) are prone to kicking themselves, we do that good enough already, and it's not particularly useful. If a change didn't take the first time:

We ran a play, the worst that can happen is that we have to punt- run defense for a bit, then we'll have the ball back. It'll be first and ten again.

If this was helpful or you have any feedback, please email David Bruce Jr and drop me a line.

Author's Bio: 

David Bruce Jr is a recovering incest survivior who uses a combination of Tony Robbins NLP and John Bradshaw's NLP techniques to speed up relief from the pain of codependent symptoms. Please visit victimbehavior.blogspot.com.