Stop Playing the Victim: How to Shift Up and Out of Dependence

You are only a victim to the degree of what your perception allows.” – Shannon L. Adler

Have you ever had someone in your life who is highly reactive, easily offended, always looking for validation and who judges others harshly? You likely recognize this person as someone with huge (unmet) expectations of others and who is very unhappy about how others are behaving. He (or she) likely blames you when they are unhappy and is all too glad to let you or others take responsibility for them. They are waiting for you or someone else to do something different to make them happy.

Perhaps you have found yourself here a time or two. We are all human beings and likely all have at one point found ourselves operating at Dependence in the persona of the Victim. Think of a time when you found yourself withdrawing and looking outside yourself to explain why the problem was happening and what the solution should be. What did this feel like for you? What were you needing? What was getting in the way of you identifying and being able to meet your needs?

This is the world of ‘Dependence’, which is also in the toxic triangle in the People Acuity™ Strategic Interdependence Model®.

Source and copyright: People Acuity

The mindset at Dependence is “You serve me.” Here, as the Victim, you find yourself myopically operating from a fear-based mindset, unable to access to your confidence, strengths and motivation to take positive, purposeful action. You are in waiting mode, disconnected and isolated, expecting someone or something externally to intervene to make you happy or solve your problem. You become wrapped in judgment of yourself and others, feeling justified in your position, yet very vulnerable because you don’t know what to do and are reluctant to appear weak. Showing up as the Victim feels so energy-depleting for you and others. Your energy and your performance are low when you are in this state and this affects not only you but also those around you. You carry a “you should” expectation of others. So, how do you shift up and out of dependence when you find yourself here?


In her book, Shift Up: Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living, DeAnna Murphy and the thought leadership team at People Acuity tell us:

Based on the idea that you have about ten well-developed strengths, the mathematical probability that you would find someone who plays to the same top ten strengths in the same order is one in 476 trillion?    For every one or your strengths, you have a unique set of needs or conditions under which that strength will flourish. Your needs are as rare as your strengths, which is why you can’t expect other people to simply guess what you need. The chances that your needs are the same as theirs is one in 476 trillion.

You are uniquely talented with a blend of strengths and areas of non-strength that make you unlike anyone else. What does this mean for your needs? What does this mean for the lens through which you see the world and the expectations you have of yourself and others? How does this affect your interactions with others?

How you see or more importantly how you choose to see is rooted in your life experiences, beliefs, values and strengths. You have our own unique lens through which you interpret what happens in your life. You often expect others to be able to see what you see and can become frustrated when they do not. “Why can’t she see how absurd this idea is?!?” “Why can’t he see things my way?!?” The answer lies in understanding your strengths, your (unmet) needs and how they may be affecting what you are able to see.

What if, instead stubbornly expecting others to understand and meet your needs, you nonjudgmental and intentionally sought to better understand your needs? What if you first looked inward for solutions to shift yourself out of toxicity, and tapped into your strengths as resources to help yourself? What would be different for your confidence? How might this shift your energy, results and relationships?


To learn more about Dependence and the Strategic Interdependence Model®, we invite you to download the Dealing with People Who Drive You Crazy eBook. We also encourage you to explore these People Acuity™ videos and the online 15-minute mini-courses to deepen your learning (use our discount code – HCBSdiscount).


About the authors:

Brian Kelly is a Strengths Strategy Certified Coach, Certified Strengths Strategies for Optimal Performance (SSOP) Facilitator, a co-thought leader and Faculty Coach at People Acuity, a Strengths Strategy Company. Brian is a strengths-centered human development coach, thought-leader, and strategist committed to developing our current and next generation of diverse, inclusive human leaders. Brian works with leaders and their teams to help them see differently so they can interdependently create better business results through better human results.

Tinus van der Merwe is a Strengths Strategy Certified Coach, Certified Strengths Strategies for Optimal Performance (SSOP) Facilitator and a co-thought leader at People Acuity. He has an infectious passion for coaching and abundance of care for his clients. He has completed over 13,000 hours of coaching and facilitating solutions (over 1,200 hours of coaching alone) with clients from a wide variety of cultures and countries, from Specialists to Top Executives.



Quiet Quitting

Liezel Pheiffer Blignaut was interviewed by Kwena Moabela on life radio Power 98.7 on the trending topic of ‘Quiet Quitting’.

Read More »

Webinars & Events

Follow us on Social Media & Subscribe to our Newsletter 

to be informed of any Public Events, Webinars, Workshops and Programs


Fill out the form below, and we will be in touch shortly.