28 Jan Keto, Cake and Playing the Victim
by Clinical Psychologist Victoria Webster (what a legend!)
Imagine this scenario: you go to Bob’s house for dinner and afterwards he proudly presents you with a chocolate cake that he has baked (from a ready-made cake mix). He offers you a piece, you say yes and have one. One piece turns into two and before you know it, the cake is finished. The next morning you wake up with a monumental sugar hangover (these are no joke) and some feelings of regret and frustration. Instead of acknowledging your frustration and accepting responsibility for the cake debacle, you start looking for someone else to blame.
You google the ready-made cake mix company and send them a scathing email about the irresponsible sugar content in their mix. You unfriend Bob on Facebook as some kind of passive-aggressive protest against what he has done to you (you secretly love the pictures he posts of his adorable cat, but it’s a sacrifice worth making in the name of justice). You feel hard done by, like the odds are stacked against you, because Bob is clearly out to get you and the cake company is too.
Life is just too unfair and trying to eat healthily is impossible, you feel miserable and the next obvious decision is to seek solace in some kind of sugary/carb-laden food. Rinse and repeat.
Do you know someone like this? Or maybe, if you are honest with yourself, this is sometimes you. We call this playing the victim or having a victim mentality. Importantly, I am not talking about a person who is a victim of something, for example any kind of abuse. I am talking about a person that takes on the role of being a victim of people in their life, victim of their circumstances and the cake. This person feels like they have little control over their life and there is little they can do to change things. They struggle with self-pity and taking responsibility for their choices. It is not uncommon for people to take on this role as it is a defence mechanism against feeling uncomfortable and taking responsibility, which can feel very scary and be very uncomfortable.
Victim mentality is like settling into a really hot bubble bath with candles and those dissolving fizzy balls; it feels comfortable and safe, but eventually if you don’t get out, the water gets cold and your skin starts to wrinkle.
It is important to note that as humans we are hardwired to avoid discomfort and pain. When we were living in caves we had to prioritise the threats in our environment. This meant we weren’t distracted by rainbows and butterflies while a sabre-toothed tiger was trying to eat us. Even though we don’t face quite the same threats as our ancestors we are still hardwired to avoid discomfort. Sometimes we can work so hard at avoiding discomfort that we can become stuck in the very unhealthy patterns we want to move forward from, as there may be comfort in not having to change anything.
“If I can only lose x amount of weight, then I will be happy”. This is the “if, then” logic of the victim mindset. “If only I was a billionaire, 5 years younger and had a pet unicorn, then I would be happy”. This mindset can be incredibly unhelpful and sets us up for failure, usually because “x” is not realistic, but also, it does nothing to inspire action in the present. Taking responsibility for right now is no longer possible with this thought process. If it is going to take a couple of weeks, months or even years to get to your desired weight, does that mean you should just settle into that cold bath until then? Sure, it is still safe in there but the candles will have burnt out, the fizzy ball has long past dissolved and you will be starting to look like a Shar Pei.
This victim role and emotional eating are best of friends. If we feel there is little we can do to improve things eating can feel like a comfort. However, the more we eat the more out of control we feel and the more we want to eat. It hasn’t helped that traditional low-fat diets probably left us feeling out of control, unsatisfied and confused. With Keto we can actually start to take control and no longer be victim to our own eating. This is not about who we can blame though, only about how we can take responsibility.
Here are some signs that you may be playing the victim (if you can acknowledge or relate to any of these, you are taking responsibility right now, well done!):
- You always have an excuse: “I have no time to eat healthily”
- You blame others or circumstances: “If my husband would just support me, I could lose the weight”
- You feel powerless and out of control in your life: “Nothing I can do will make this better”
- You use the “if, then” logic when avoiding action
- You think everyone else is lucky and life is just unfair: “Must be so nice to look like that…”
- You don’t like to take responsibility: “It is not my fault. Bob offered me cake”
- Life is always lacking and never what you expected: “Life will never be kind to me”
But here’s the thing about playing the victim: you can decide not to. You might not be able to control a lot of things but you can control how you react and what action you take. Instead of being the guest of honour at the pity party, you can acknowledge your difficulties and seek solutions or ways to manage things better. This doesn’t mean you are not allowed to feel sad or frustrated when things go wrong, but you don’t want to use these feelings to engage in unhealthy and unhelpful behaviours. Don’t unfriend Bob (after all, that cat is so damn cute) and don’t try to destroy the cake mix company. If you can recognise that the only thing you can actually control is you, then suddenly you have a whole lot more options to empower yourself.
This is bigger than just eating and food, but about you taking responsibility in your life in general. Losing weight can be a natural consequence of making healthy choices and taking control of the things you can.
The RMR Coaching Program and Hero Group Support Program are all about taking responsibility and creating accountability – it is all fully built in. If you are feeling like you are very stuck, contact the firstname.lastname@example.org immediately our team will help you find your way out of the cold bath.
Importantly, the responsibility in asking for help is yours. Time to stop playing the victim; there is a lot to gain and only very cold, dirty bath water to lose (maybe some weight too).