Denounce Victimhood, and Step into Your Raw Power

We live in a world where people commit emotional perjury…all the freaking time. We go from being wide-eyed, unabashedly honest kids to adults who’ve been taught to hide our secrets and swallow down our truth. Many of us learn, early in life, that we don’t get rewarded for telling the truth anyway—especially if it doesn’t fit the narratives and values of Mom, Dad, or anyone who might appear to have authority over us.

Years after the fact, their voices are still in our heads…leading us to self-silence, to hide, and to pretend that we’re victims of life’s circumstances.

It’s pretty easy to justify the hiding we end up doing. After all, simply being who we are is hard. And, honestly? Kind of messy. Case in point: Have you ever had to tell a friend something that you knew was going to disappoint them—hurt them—maybe even cause them to judge you harshly? At least in the moment, it seems easier to play nice and complain about it when nobody’s looking.

But if we want to reclaim our power and independence, we need to see where we are playing small and acting like victims to our own lives. We need to recognize where we are giving up the chance to step into our messy brilliance and playing by someone else’s rules. Let’s all try to understand that we can own our uncertainty, tender spots, rough edges, and shove-to-the-back-of-the-closet secrets without making the mistake of believing that the entire world is against us.

Claiming our power and taking responsibility for our lives is scary. But fear is just fuel for power. Where there is fear, there is the opportunity for transformation.


Wherever you are in your life, it is always possible to gain awareness of how a victim outlook has robbed you of your own freedom. I define victimhood as the tendency to use blame to avoid self-responsibility. Blame can manifest in blaming other people, circumstances, the system, and probably most commonly ourselves. The energy around blame is stagnant and heavy. It keeps us paralyzed and powerless. It makes us feel small and inadequate. It makes us believe that we are at the mercy of things that are beyond our capacity to change.

Shifting from victimhood to freedom requires lots of self-compassion and a shift in your perspective. Below are five powerful steps to take toward renouncing your victimhood and reclaiming your power.

Step 1: Assume Self-Responsibility

The first step of claiming your power is taking responsibility for your life—and knowing that, no matter what you are going through, you can always make the choice to do this.

If you don’t feel like you have choice—because you’ll get fired from your job, your family will disown you, your friends will judge you, or “the man” will slap you back down—you are operating on a lie. The lie might sound convincing, but if you look deeper, you will see that it is fueled by the false idea that other people might have power, but you don’t.

Too many of us inadvertently fall into a victim mentality that makes it seem like life is happening to us and we’re just passive little puppets on a string, being pulled by whoever or whatever seems to be calling the shots.

While life is complicated and there are plenty of oppressive forces running amok, often, the chains we envision around ourselves are self-created. We may not see that we are truly the masters of our fate.

I’m not pointing fingers…because we all do this.

I was 35 years old—recently divorced, a survivor of incest, and at the end of my rope in my quest to find some peace—before I realized that I actually had the power to choose my outlook on life, as well as my connection to joy and power. It all began with accepting my life as it was. I recognized that as messy as life could be, I had choices. I could choose to dive into the mess and claim the beauty and the gifts in the midst of it, rather than constantly chasing perfectionism, which was actually making me feel even worse and more alone…and powerless, as a result.

Of course, I don’t mean to minimize any of the challenges you have faced in your life. I have deep compassion for the women across the world who are experiencing oppression on a daily basis. But that doesn’t take away the fact that we, and we alone, have a choice as to how we will react to those difficulties. In fact, this should strengthen our resolve to find our power and help all those women who might not be able to use their voices for transformation just yet. We can be the change we wish to see.

Step 2: Quit People-Pleasing

People-pleasing is a stealthy form of victimhood. We think we are doing what we’re doing in order to be of benefit to someone else, but in truth, the “martyr” attitude is an easy out for the fact that we’re scared shitless of taking responsibility for our own joy and power.

Way too many of us have learned how to be chameleons—to change our identities in order to please others or steer clear of judgment and criticism. Chronic people pleasers are so concerned with what other people might think of them that they have internalized such false judgments as, “I’m not a good person unless I do such-and-such for so-and-so,” and “People won’t love me unless I sacrifice who I am and what I want.”

If you ever feel trapped in the fear of being judged for living loud, proud, and firmly in your truth, turn the mirror on yourself.

I promise you this: As soon as your own self-judgment melts away, so will your fear of being crucified by other people. In fact, you will develop compassion for both yourself and all the shit-talkers who use their criticism to cover up their own insecurities and unhappiness. Instead of diving into catering to their needs, you’ll remember your own. And when they take precedence, you’ll draw in the kind of unconditional support you need to make life happen.

Step 3: Embrace Your Personal Integrity

When we release our victimhood, we live in integrity—which is the state of being in total alignment with our values, and then acting in accordance with them. Integrity also helps us to maintain personal boundaries and maintain positive self-worth.

Living in integrity requires awareness at every moment—of our beliefs and thoughts, of our physical surroundings and the people we choose to spend time with, and of where we are directing our attention. Every time we ask ourselves, “Is any of this in alignment with who I want to be? Am I living my own dreams and desires—or am I taking on somebody else’s?” we can make it second nature.

Step 4: Take Action

Too many people spin their wheels in complaining about their problems, reading books and taking courses, but failing to follow through with their newfound knowledge, and getting stuck in the “dreaming and planning” phase. But small talk (especially complaining) minus action yields few results. When we connect to what we value (integrity) and then act from this place, we overcome the odds that appear to be stacked against us.

Taking action follows a three-step process of owning your truth, sharing it, then acting in alignment with it. For example, maybe your truth is that a friendship you’ve had for years is toxic and disempowering but for the past several years, you’ve allowed it to drain you of your energy. Now that you’ve owned this truth, you are ready to share it. Whatever the case, this is not about blaming her but, rather, taking responsibility for your part in the dynamic, and following through with concrete actions.

Step 5: Be Vulnerable

As you go through all the other steps, be sure to remember to keep your heart open.

People fear that taking decisive action will alienate other people or ruin existing relationships. Actually, it’s just the opposite.

Stepping into your true power breaks down the armor you’ve built and allows you to be more open and vulnerable. Vulnerability is an important part of your messy brilliance, because it allows love to flow to and from you with greater ease.

Don’t run away from vulnerability. When you feel it, notice how it feels in your body. Vulnerability a beautiful gift that creates an awareness of where you might feel tender or raw.

So, what are you waiting for? Renounce victimhood. Choose your destiny.

This is part of a series of blogs about the power of owning your messy brilliance, leading up to the publication of my book, Your Messy Brilliance, 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman. When you pre-order Your Messy Brilliance today, you’ll also get free exclusive, early access to my new course, Embrace Your Messy Brilliance in 30 Days ($49 value). Click here to learn more.

And be sure to sign up for my email newsletter, Notes to My Messy Self, for a daily reminder of the powerhouse that you are. Sign up here.

Kelly McNelis

About the Author | Kelly McNelis

Kelly McNelis is the founder of Women for One, a place where women from 50 countries share their powerful stories with the world. Over 500 Truthtellers, as Kelly calls them, have answered her call to action: Make life happen by sharing your messy brilliance. Their stories range from the devastating to the delightful, and everything in between. Kelly is a mom, wife, friend, mentor, businesswoman, Reiki master, minister, healer, incest survivor, and firm believer that there’s no such thing as “TMI.” Formerly a nonprofit- and small-business consultant, Kelly now travels the world as a speaker, teacher, and workshop facilitator, empowering women to find their voice and discover their true power. She has interviewed global changemakers including the late Dr. Maya Angelou, Arianna Huffington, Regena “Mama Gena” Thomashauer, and Byron Katie, on the importance of cultivating our own inner wisdom and truthtelling voices. Kelly’s first book, Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman, will be published by Enrealment Press in Fall 2017. Pre-order the book today! Kelly’s work, husband, kids, and brilliantly messy life are based outside Seattle.

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