Episode 35 – No Winners in the Pain Olympics

All people love to be seen and validated. Especially when life is hard. That’s all that’s happening when the “victim card” is laid down. If you judge or dismiss the “victim card” when it’s played… especially if YOU are the one playing it… all you really do is transition into one of two NEW challenges.  

Listen in this week to hear all about those two challenges – the events that make up the Pain Olympics – and learn how to avoid staying stuck in the land where there are NO medals to be won.  

Mentioned in this Episode

Jerry Maguire

Episode 5 – “Attention Seeking” Behavior Ain’t All Bad

Bonus Resources

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  • Grab your free e-copy of “Wife on Purpose” and the companion workbook HERE
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Episode Transcript

‘s Up, Bees?!

Remember the movie, Jerry Maguire?

I love that show. It’s got a cute kid, an underdog protagonist and an unlikely (but enduring) love story between office worker, Dorothy (played by Renee Zellweger) and washed up sports agent, Jerry (played by Tom Cruise).

They’re both down on their luck – but still scrappy… and (spoiler alert) they make it through all the muck and misery like champions by the end.

Great show.

Side note – if you’re thinking about running out to watch it now, be advised that you may want to fast forward immediately when you see a shot of a white dog with blue eyes. What follows is probably a scene you don’t want to see. Fair warning.

And that scene is not the scene I want to focus on here.

The scene I’m more interested in is an early scene where Jerry and Dorothy are just starting to get to know each other.

The conversation is initially about work and their plans for their new business.

Then, it turns more personal.

Both Dorothy and Jerry share details about challenges they’ve had in past relationships. When Jerry tries to follow up on something Dorothy shares, she pauses and responds with:

“Let’s not tell our sad stories.”

Why would she say something like that?

“Let’s not tell our sad stories.”

Could be that she’s uncomfortable and wants to change the subject.

Might be that she doesn’t really want to let Jerry in.

But I don’t think it’s either of those things.

My theory is that Dorothy REALLY likes him. What she DOESN’T like is the role she plays in the sad stories she’s in the habit of telling.

The role of a disempowered wimp with limited choices.

The role of a powerless wife at the mercy of her husband’s whims.

The role of a fragile damsel with no means for self-support.

My theory is that Dorothy wants Jerry to see her in a more flattering light than all that.

My theory is that she knows she needs to help him see her that way by introducing herself to him in the way she wants to be seen.

As a woman who creates her own options.

As a powerhouse who sees and seizes opportunities.

As a driver who gathers and utilizes resources to help her claim her goals.

My theory is that she wants to step into a more soverign identity than her habitual, sad stories allow her to take – so she CONSCIOUSLY chose, in that moment with Jerry, to never speak of herself in a victim-y or weak way again.

Because she was living from who she wanted to be moving forward, not from how she’d seen herself in a past life she didn’t want anymore.

And – in order for her to effectively introduce herself to Jerry in the way that she wants to be seen, she consciously chose to direct her thoughts and her sharings toward descriptions that reflect the woman she wants to be – a master of her experience NOT a victim of her circumstances.

She chose to stop telling her sad story because she was ready to live a different story with him moving forward.

The screen writers may or may not agree with my interpretation – but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

You with me?

Now – let’s talk about the word “victim” for a bit – you want to?

I’m not really surprised if you’d rather not.

BECAUSE modern society tends to use the word “victim” as a kind of insult.

You’ve probably applied that label to someone when you think they aren’t taking responsibility for themselves the way you believe that they should.

Maybe you’ve said it about your neighbor or your mother-in-law.

Maybe you’ve said it about yourself.

Either way, you’ve probably called someone a victim in a not-so-sensitive way at some point in your life.

Maybe that sounded something like this:

“I hate that I’m sounding like a victim here.”


“There she goes again. Playing the victim card like she always does.”

Can you hear the disdain dripping from those comments?

Being a victim is CLEARLY NOT something you’re “supposed” to do. It’s so immature and unflattering and obnoxious.


Well… actually… I get that expectation… that you’re not supposed to be a victim…


I don’t.

I get it because it probably would be easier for everyone if the “victim” would just take responsibility for themselves and take care of their business.

It would likely even be better for the “victim” themselves if they exercised their proactive muscles a little bit more regularly.


I don’t get all the hating on victims because:

#1 – all of us have played the victim at times, it’s a very human thing to do

#2 – I really don’t believe the “victim” is trying to be a burden. I seriously doubt that it’s their aim to annoy their friends or bring down the room.

What’s more likely is that being a “victim” is simply a familiar identity – like an old, ratty and comfortable cardigan. It might not be the most attractive garment, but it gets the job done.

Just like being a “victim” tends to bring in attention and care from others… which are things all humans need to thrive.

Sure – “playing the victim” isn’t the ONLY way to get attention and care from others.


Humans are creatures of habit who tend to do what we’ve always done unless we find a good enough reason to do something else – along with a solid belief that the something else will work just as well as the current strategy.

Meaning, people who tend to play the victim card would have to believe that another strategy would work just as well or better AND they’d have to believe in their ability to pull off said strategy.

Which can be a really scary venture – because it’s so uncertain.

So maybe we don’t have to hate the “victims” for being human and recycling the familiar.

It’s an option to remind yourself that when you (or someone else) is “playing the victim card” it’s only because you’re believing that identity is the most likely one to get you what you want.

It’s a strategy – not a syndrome.

And remember? Back in episode 5? How we learned that “attention seeking” behavior isn’t all bad? Because, as we’ve discussed, humans need attention to thrive.

We are wired for connection.

There’s NO POINT in shaming ourselves or shaming anyone else for wanting attention or trying to connect.

Even if we or they play the victim card to get it.

It’s always our option to see the victim card for the strategy it is and if it’s us playing the card – decide ON PURPOSE if that’s really the best play.

If it’s someone else playing the card – we can decide if or how much to engage with them around it.

And we can do ALL of that from a place of love and understanding for everyone involved.

Sweetheart wants connection. Of course she does.

Of course we want to be seen in our pain.

Of course we want to be cared for and validated when the world seems unfair or cruel.

That’s all that’s happening when the victim card is laid down.

If you judge or dismiss the victim card when it’s played… especially if YOU are the one playing it… all you really do is transition into one of two NEW challenges.

You’ll either minimize your pain because it’s “less” than someone else’s and is thus “less valid” OR you’ll seek to amplify your pain to keep it relevant.

Either option signs you up for the Pain Olympics – which I’m here to tell you… has NO medals at all.

Let’s look at those two pitfalls individually:

1 – minimizing your pain because it’s “less” than someone else’s

You’ve more than likely been told – at some point in your life – to cheer up because someone else has a worse lot than you.

Such an odd thing to say when you slow down to think about it.

Can you imagine telling someone not to be happy because someone else has it better than they do?

Probably not.

That would be absurd.

But we do that exact thing with negative emotion.

Probably because we tend to forget that humans are designed to experience every emotion on the spectrum.

Happy isn’t “better” than sad. Calm isn’t “more moral” than angry.

Emotions are just information our bodies are sending to our brains.

That’s it.

Emotions tell us when something might be amiss in our world so that we can hear ourselves out and advocate for our environment to better match our needs.

The end.

I promise there are NO brownie available for pretending you don’t feel the way you do.

And that pretending… it actually messes things up. A LOT.

If you don’t listen for messages about what makes you sad or angry or hurt, you disconnect from yourself and can’t advocate for the experience you’d like to have as effectively.

Which is a breeding ground for resentment and broken relationships.

No. Thanks.

Also – that person you’re thinking of… the one who has it worse than you and thus negates your “right” to feel bad?

I am certain that you denying your pain doesn’t change anything for her. Doesn’t make her situation better in any way. Really, it doesn’t.

So maybe you bucking up because someone else is sadder doesn’t make any more sense than you toning down your excitement because someone else is happier than you.

There’s room enough for all the sadness and all the happiness in this world. I promise.

And the more room you make for yourself to feel what’s true for you… the easier it’ll be for you to move fluidly through all of the emotions humans are designed to have.
Even better if you allow yourself to move through all the emotions at your own pace without assigning deep morality to one emotional experience over another.

Instead, you can just notice your feelings like you notice the color of the shirt you’re wearing and keep being the person you want to be no matter what your emotions or your outfit look like that day.

You can be sad and loving at the same time.

Angry and calm all at once.

You’re powerful like that, Bee – especially when you allow yourself to tell the truth about your emotional experience.

Which brings me to the second pitfall: amplifying your pain to keep it relevant.

Why would anyone do that?


Because they don’t feel better yet and they believe that feeling better is going to come from something outside of themselves.

They are waiting for husband to apologize.

Or best friend to call back.

Or sister to offer much desired help.

Or neighbor to make different choices about the property line.

Whatever it is – a person who amplifies their pain gets some sense of identify around being the one in pain. It’s a part of who they are.

It’s a pretty excrutiating strategy because in order to continue being the one in pain you’re required to focus on hardship and snubs instead of freedom and competence.

Kindof a bummer… AND… I’m pretty confident in saying that ALL of us have done this at times.

Especially over a slight we perceived to be particularly egregious or enduring.

It’s hard to let that stuff go because of the shift in identity you’d have to make in order to tell a new story.

It seems like there’s something to lose if you no longer identify as “the one who cleans up all the messes” or “the one who just can’t get a break”.

Take a minute – right now – to think about what your lingering “sad story” might be.

I tend to think that my husband’s choices limit mine.

It’s a thought I’ve worked on and a thought that tends to persist.


Because, on some level, I like how it feels to be the one who is good at adjusting and figuring it out all on her own without much support from her husband. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment that I get to feel when I tell myself about all the obstacles I’ve overcome.

Whether or not my story is actually true isn’t the point here – the point is: when I allow myself to view me as a fierce warrior who keeps overcoming obstacle after obstacle thrown down in my way by a husband who just doesn’t get it… I feel some pride in “overcoming so much.”

And bare bones honesty?

I also feel some relief in knowing that if I don’t succeed at whatever it is, most people would agree that it makes sense because… I mean… look at what I had to overcome.

Of course I didn’t quite get to my goal, who could blame me and what did they expect?

Again – the accuracy of my story isn’t the point here.

I’m certain that my husband would tell this particular story a different way.

AND – when I tell the story the way I’m used to telling it, with him as the main roadblock in my life and me as a champion hurdler, I get to feel pride and relief… and… I like feeling those things.

Part of me isn’t totally sure I’ll be able to feel those things without the story of the roadblocks and the hurdling.

So I keep telling it – sometimes with embellished details.

I would guess that you have a story like that too.

And it’s really NOT as simple as just drop the story and tell a new one.

Because in order to tell the new one, you’d have to be aware of what the old one brings you and be willing to risk giving that thing up.

And there you have it.

The Pain Olympics.

No winners. Not ever.

Just a team of people denying their pain because other people are hurting more and a team of people flaunting their pain because they so desperately want to be seen in it.

No one wins because all of the players have forgotten that approval, acceptance and acknowledgement are an inside job.

Other people can lead you to that water, but they can never make you drink.

So now it’s your turn, Bee.

What is your go to reason for clinging to your pain?


What’s your go to reason for pretending it isn’t there?

Identify those reasons and decide on purpose if you like them.

Consciously look for reasons that align most closely with the women you want to be.

Tell your sad story long enough to hear its message and then keep on advocating for the life and marriage you deserve.

That’s the playing field where the real victories happen and actual medals are won.

We can do all that together when you subscribe to and share this podcast.

Choose to be a woman who supports other women by spreading these messages of empowerment and freedom. Every. Single. Sunday.

All of us here in the Defying Gravity Revolution Hive thank you for helping to create a world where more women stop caring what humans think is impossible.

Choose courage, Bee and keep on flying!


Are you ready to have the marriage you imagined when you said “I do”?

Click below to get the FREE course: How to have the marriage you imagined when you said “I do”. You’re worth it and you’re welcome.

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I’m Candice.

I believe that every wife ought to feel cherished and valued. Appreciated and adored. I know we can make that happen. Even if it seems impossible to you. I’m a Master Certified Life Coach and I spend my days coaching women who are afraid in their marriages. You and I can work together to find a way for you to trust in your own decisions instead of constantly reacting to his. Now’s your time, Bee. How much longer are you willing to wonder and wait?