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Why am I always the scapegoat in a group?

Does it always feel like you’re the scapegoat at work? Usually when there is a pattern like this, its roots extend much further than the working environment. So in therapy, we’d spend time looking at your role in a variety of different groups – work, home life, your social circle, and the family you grew up in. We’d explore your patterns of relating and work together to figure out which of these serves you, and which need to be altered to help you live a life you are more enriched by, that serves you – where over time you are less likely to be the scapegoat!



When a pattern keeps repeating itself, it can be so detrimental to how you view yourself and your overall confidence. Annoyingly though, the mind is a creature of habit, and it tends to unconsciously look for ways to reinforce existing thought processes – whether these are good or bad for you. In this way it’s not about what is right for you – it’s about what is familiar ground. So if you grew up being scapegoated in your family, despite the fact it doesn’t serve you, you will unconsciously be drawn to situations where the pattern keeps repeating. Aaaggghh! This is true of all behavioural and relational patterns and can be applied to almost any situation. How though, do you stop it from happening? It can feel overwhelming and like it’s so deeply ingrained it’s impossible to get out of. The good news is though, with therapy, it’s entirely possible to get to a point where these patterns can be broken, and discarded. You absolutely can have more control over these things – and you deserve to.


So the first step is to become aware of the problem / pattern. Define it, articulate why it doesn’t work for you, be clear about how it impacts your life and in what situations it occurs. Next, get to know it. Look it in the face! Where did it come from and when was the first time you remember it happening; how did it affect you then? Is what’s happening today familiar with those feelings, those situations? Once you’ve got this far, there’s no turning back! However this is precisely where you’ll need to develop a tonne of patience - by now you’ll be ready for change, and depending on the situation, it’s important to realise that change isn’t likely to happen overnight. In our world of instant gratification, we are conditioned to believe that everything can be ours NOW, right now! Yet when it comes to our own selves, although we may take steps to bring about change, it is literally impossible for this change to happen straight away. Why? Well let’s look at it in a little more detail…


Before the age of seven, where most of our core patterns of relating and behaving are learned, we are on download mode. Every single thing we see, hear, are exposed to, the ways in which we are treated – all of these are soaked up like a sponge by our developing minds. This has a tremendous effect on the development of our characters and personalities in those crucial formative years. How we respond to how our parents speak to or treat us will be directly affected by the role model of behaviour they have shown us. Bringing this back to being a scapegoat for example, if we grow up in an environment where the people around us aren’t able to take responsibility for themselves, perhaps they lack the self-awareness, or are unable to admit when they are wrong - perhaps it was easier for you to be the target of blame when you were small. Suppose this was the way things were for you, and your parents could be angry and lash out if you talked back – in this situation it may have been hard for you to say no, or stand up for yourself – instill good boundaries. If this becomes a pattern, your response to it is then hardwired, and will shape how you show up in every relationship in the future.


If we grow up in an environment where the people around us aren’t able to take responsibility for themselves, perhaps they lack the self-awareness, or are unable to admit when they are wrong - perhaps it was easier for you to be the target of blame when you were small.

So you can start to see how these powerful first relationships we are exposed to have such a massive effect on how we are as adults. We are not just in download mode when it comes to the way we are treated. We are in download mode for Every. Single. Thing. Which means we also learn about the right way to behave by observing the behaviour of those around us – parents, siblings, close family etc, even when it isn’t directed at us. Add to that years and years of these relationships being reinforced and strengthened by our family groups, and then by our friends and work colleagues, and you can easily see how these patterns are not going to disappear overnight. So don’t be disheartened when things don’t change immediately! Before you even knew your own name you were learning about the ways to be in life that were safest, and would lead to the path of least resistance – praise, or being left alone for example.


As we grow though, a little bit of insight can be a powerful catalyst for change. Once you are able to discover the roots of what bothers you, you can then work with it to develop new strategies for change, that will better serve you.

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