I CAN & AM OUTGROWING
this toxic victim role!
PREVIOUS: ACoAs – being Scapegoated (Part 5)
SITE: The “Scapegoat Mechanism” in philosophical anthropology, Kenneth Brooks
NOTE: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
FOR ALL ACoAs:
No matter what our toxic family role was as kids, many of us tried to bring attention to the family’s dirty laundry, so it would get corrected, but in most cases that never happened. (This is true even if parents or siblings eventually get into 12-step Programs, but still haven’t done their own FoO work). We assumed that if we could make the adults own their emotional baggage, our torment would stop & life would be great. And so we pushed & pushed – but it only got us more abuse.
● ACoAs desperately want justice / fairness! Failing at this childhood goal, some continue trying to ‘fight injustice’ as adults, especially those of us who were scapegoated. We´ may become expose´ journalist, prosecuting attorneys, ‘church ladies’, public service advocates or whistle blowers…. However, most of us live more conventional lives, with little social or political clout. Even so we compulsively insist that dishonest & hypocritical friends, relative, mates, bosses (& elderly parents)…. admit their flaws. It didn’t work at home, & rarely works in the adult world either. It still brings negative feedback & so another layer of abuse.
WHAT TO DO if you were/are the family scapegoat?
First ask: “Am I willing to do whatever it takes to give up my Scapegoat (Sc) role?” That’s not always an easy Yes, but do-able.
Remember: continuing to be ether belligerent, demanding, controlling – OR – compliant, over-agreeable, too silent, submissive or unclear, makes it easier for people to automatically avoid you, treat you poorly or ignore you. That’s even true with people who are not usually scapegoaters! It’s a normal human response to is acting from our WIC’s damage. (MORE…)
• But once you acknowledge the toxic role you were put into, and accept that it was not your fault (using the 3 As of Al-Anon), you can start to notice how you perpetuate the syndrome, & slowly change the pattern. THEN you get new, better reactions from others! Who knew??
THINGS TO WORK ON
PRESENTATION: Walk into every room with head held straight, look at people directly, don’t slouch, walk ‘confidently’ – as if you believe you have a right to be here – even if you don’t feel like it – dress appropriately for the situation you’re in, look around & notice what’s going on, notice who’s NOT safe (using your inner radar) ….
COMMUNICATION: ASK, ASK, ASK – never assume you know what others are thinking or what they mean! Also, be clear about what you want & then speak up using declarative sentences – not circling a topic or issue. This has to some from the Adult ego state – not the scared or angry kid – in order to be effective.
— Ask for things you want or need – no matter how small (even if you can get it for yourself) especially when you’re overwhelmed
— Ask people to explain themselves, don’t assume you already know: “What do you mean, why did you say that…?”
— Ask for information: “How do you do that, where can I find one, how do I get there…?”
— Ask for respect: “Please don’t talk to me that way, that’s unacceptable, I don’t like it when you —— ”
— Ask for clarity: “That’s not what I meant, can you rephrase, what does that mean….?”
BOUNDARIES: Don’t expect others to respect your boundaries. You have to set the standard that’s right for you. “This ____ works for me, this ____ doesn’t, I want to do this, I don’t want to do that…..”
— Practice say NO – at first in your head – a lot! Then try it out on small things you don’t want to do or don’t like – with people or situations that don’t feel TOO ‘dangerous’ if it doesn’t work out the way you hoped.
— Don’t over-give. Offer a little, & then see what & how much the other person can reciprocate. If the can only give 10%, you give only 10-15%, etc. It’s up to you to not get taken advantage of.
RELATIONSHIPS: Whenever possible stay away from the people who originally set you up, or who still treat you as the black sheep in any situation. Look for people who are already kind, or at least respectful. If you aren’t getting any of your needs met or are treated shabbily, you can walk away. We MUST keep the focus on ourselves – owning & correcting our own character defects, AND appreciate & cherish our talents & skills.
RESCUING: Having been the family’s ‘truth-teller’, it’s time to reconsider your impulse to focus on other people’s ‘bad’ behavior- especially when it has nothing to do with you or your life. Being a scapegoat is a horribly painful situation to fall into as an Empath. In order to avoid it happening, empathic Sc must learn to tell the difference between their emotions and others’ emotions. Mind your own business!
Two ways are:
a. Only speak your own truth, re. when others are upset:
Sometimes people will come to the Sc to express their distress about another person or situation, subconsciously trying to lure the Sc into picking up sword-&-shield on their behalf. If you get riled up when hearing someone complain about a 3rd party, ask yourself: “Whose emotions am I feeling?” Because of the Sc’s sensitivity, we pick up what others feel & want to fix it. You can choose to listen or not – but don’t take on their fear, anger or disapproval. Don’t try to rescue or protect other adults. It tends to backfire!
b. Choose the truths you tell, re. when something bothers you:
Some things are none of our business. We’re not only naturally intuitive & observant people, but we are also forever on guard for potential danger – to ourselves. So when we see someone misbehaving (coming to work drunk, stealing, making a mistake….) we get all revved up because our anxiety hits the RED ZONE. We have to say something to the boss, the teacher, a leader….. But when it does not affect your well being in any practical way – stay out of it!
NEW RULE: If the other person’s actions do not impinge on your rights or freedom, it’s best to not say anything. It’s not your job to be a snitch – anymore. Besides, others probably know about it anyway.
NEXT: ACoAs – being Scapegoated (Part 6b)