A victim mentality is one in which someone blames others for what happens or has happened in their world. A victim mentality probably also affects a person who thinks the future only holds bad things for them or they are unlucky. Victim mentality is buying into and believing that circumstances are beyond your control.
Sometimes, we all fall into the victim mindset when things don’t go our way. After a distressing event, or due to childhood woes, you may come to believe that you are destined to struggle, have bad luck, or be held captive by your own limiting beliefs. For example, from the time John was a little boy, he learned that bad luck ran in his family. His father was always having difficulty with the supervisors at his job, never got promotions; nothing was ever fair in his eyes.
When John became a young man, he too began to take on this persona. Bad grades were due to him not being smart enough or it was the teacher’s fault for not teaching properly. When money problems became an issue, it was that John was “unlucky” or that his parents should have taught him how to save money, not that he was frivolously spending. John was always the victim of circumstances, and told himself so. He gave up on changing his perception, and thus became his way of interacting with the world around him, leading to relationship problems and issues with co-workers.
Victim Mentality and Being Always the Victim
The victim mentality affects those around us, as well as our relationship with ourselves; it is not productive, nor positive. This way of thinking did not just happen overnight, rather it served a purpose for you at one time. There is real value in believing this is who you are, as it keeps you safe from expecting more from others or getting hurt (you can’t be hurt if you are expecting to be hurt). People tend to help you more when you have learned to be helpless to some degree.
With a victim mindset, you feel less control over yourself. It takes personal responsibility off of you. However, the reason it is ineffective is that over time, it keeps you from living a life worth living, or your best life. You are always the victim; you are less likely to take chances, change your circumstances, and continue living in toxic patterns that are not conducive to building a happy life, a fulfilling life.
“How would your life be different if . . . You stopped validating your victim mentality? Let today be the day . . . You shake off yourself defeating drama and embrace your innate ability to recover and achieve.”~ Steve Maraboli
5 Ways to Change Your Victim Mentality
1. Take Inventory
Are there situations and circumstances that you have been blaming others for? Ones that you can honestly say you had a part in? Even if you had the slightest part of this experience, taking note that you were part of it, can give you the freedom to learn from this and move forward. It may be difficult to do, but is very valuable in building a new lens on life.
2. Acknowledge Need for Greater Personal Responsibility
Many of the reasons for playing the role of victim are due it being reinforced by others. Receiving pity from others may not seem like a positive experience, but in essence that’s what we are doing when we don’t take personal responsibility. Instead, we try to get others to feel pain for us or with us. Make a list of some of the areas in your life you would like to take more control over, then problem-solve.
3. Validate Your Feelings, Accept What Happened and Move Forward
Chances are you are holding on to negative feelings towards someone or something that put you in this role. Give yourself some validation. Yes, people did hurt you. Now, with this, also accept that this is not happening now. Rather, it happened in the past. When you can learn to forgive and move forward, the less of a burden this is for you. If needed, seek out support for this with the help of a therapist or coach.
4. Create a New Story
Focusing on the old story isn’t serving you. It may in the short term, but telling yourself a new story where you are actively problem solving and taking on more personal responsibility will help you to get past the victim shadow.
5. Show Gratitude
Rather than focusing on what you don’t have or what happened that has kept you locked into this role, look at everything you do have. Take a moment to see what you have learned about yourself from these experiences. Ask yourself what beautiful outcomes have been created by past situations that may not have appeared to be in your best interest, but have created the you that you are today.
Be the Healthy New You
Although these negative thinking patterns are hard to break, just taking a small step towards a new path can really help to increase your mood and your positive energy. The victim mentality can be felt by others. Try to take control and gain power. You often attract the same situations and people in your life because it’s too hard to change within yourself. It doesn’t have to be this way. Just by reading this article and accepting that there areas in your life that need improvement is one step in the right direction.
Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.