Fortunately, it can be avoided simply by understanding the fundamental difference between responsibility to others versus responsibility for others.
The number one characteristic of victim-hood is the failure to take responsibility for ourselves.
For instance, we are responsible to others when we do what we say we will do (i.e. show up on time, tell the truth, do our work assignment, etc.) In this way we are showing responsibility for ourselves as well as to those to whom we have made a commitment.
However, if we cover for others, pay their bills, bail them out of trouble over and over, do their work for them, etc. we are taking responsibility for them. When we take care of others at our own expense we are operating out of the Rescuer role on the Victim Triangle and that means the Victim role will be our next stop!
I will share more on the differences between being responsible "for" versus "to" next week. For now let's look at some of the language that goes with taking responsibility for others..
The Rescuer Victim says:
"You can't handle it. I will do it for you."
"She can't manage her life so I have to take control of it for her."
"He will fail if I don't cover for him."
When we try to control outcomes in someone else's life we not only insult their capabilities but we interfere in their relationship with Reality. It is a disservice to ourselves and others anytime we enable another person's lack of self responsibility by taking over their business, or by lying or covering for them.
We are most respectful when we refuse to treat our loved ones as if they can't handle life.
Here's some Healthy Ways of Expressing Support:
"How you handle your life is your business. It's not my business."
"I trust that you can figure things out for yourself."
"I am not sure what you should do ... what do you see as your options?"
"I trust that whatever consequences you face from your choices will ultimately benefit you."
"What do you need from me? (And then give a clear, concise response of either, "Yes, I will do that," or "I'm sorry, but that's not my responsibility.")
Remember to respond in a way that empowers rather than rescues others and everyone will benefit.