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5 Ways to Escape Your Victim Mentality

October 31, 2012 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

The victim mentality usually ends up destroying your life. Here's the definition of victim mentality and 5 ways to escape it.

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

What is the victim mentality plus 5 ways to escape your victim mentalityThe 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.

APA Reference
LPC, E. (2012, October 31). 5 Ways to Escape Your Victim Mentality, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2012/11/5-ways-to-escape-your-victim-mentality



Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she 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 FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

vic
says:
December, 18 2018 at 7:28 am
Some good advice
Steve
says:
February, 23 2018 at 2:02 pm
Just the term 'victim mentality' sounds accusing - it's as if you are saying people have consciously chosen to act this way. it shows little empathy, or understanding. Just the sound of it is so negative - I'm sure that nobody 'wants; to feel like a victim. And no doubt there are reasons why people end up feeling that way. I'm appalled that therapists use this term.
Bill
says:
December, 22 2017 at 8:48 pm
I have been working on an assignment in a group I attend. It had to do with how to stop living life from the standpoint of a victim. So of course I searched the internet for information and found a few sights. I looked for any similarities or a common solution. As I see it the simulates are in no particular order: To practice being thankful for what I do have and what is going right in my life. To forgive the person that made me a victim and in effect helped created my victim thinking. To accept my feeling realizing they are only feeling and as real as they are, they are not accurately representing what is happening in my life today, it's like an echo from the past that superimposes or masked what is real today. To be mindful of the present and seek to live in the here and now as much as I can. To go forward making new choices and accepting responsibility for my choices. If I make a bad choice, I can learn from it, I can be thankful for the experience good or bad because it was my choice. Affirm my self in that I am doing the best I can with what I have and I am OK being responsible for my actions and choices today.
Thank You.
Maddy
says:
November, 19 2017 at 11:42 am
Best way I know to stop being a victim is to remember that it is not wrong to want to live happy life and sometimes putting up with short term discomfort leads to long term happiness. Having a few quid squirreled away might help, or it might just keep you stuck in a bad relationship because it gives you the feeling that you could leave if you want to, therefore you don't. Sounds illogical but it is true. Therefore do not deprive yourself of simple pleasures whilst plotting your escape. Live in the moment and learn to appreciate life.
Sara
says:
June, 5 2017 at 11:49 am
I hate the "stop being the victim! Take responsability!"
A guy raped me... It was my fault
My partner cheated on me and then left me.. It is ok.. she has the right to do what she thinks is right for her
I want to date someone while she is dating someone else... that's wrong
People insult me... that is my fault
I insult people ... that's my fault too
It seems that when people mistreat me it is my fault, it is their right, but if I want to do the exact same thing to someone else, it is also my fault
It seems to me that I'm not only responsible for my actions but for other people actions too???

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 9 2017 at 4:47 pm
Hi Sara,
So sorry to hear about your experience. This blog isn't intended to take away or invalidate anyone's personal experience, there are several blogs on here that help for specific situations in which one feels powerless. It certainly isn't blaming you or anyone for experiences that occured, it's here to help you feel empowered in situations you find yourself stuck in a mindset that you can't quite break, say not speaking up for what you want with a friend or blaming others for not calling you back so now you have no one to hang out with. There are several other posts on this blog that offer ways to feel empowered and I hope that I can help you find one that resonates with you. Message me and I will be happy to help :) Thank you for your comment -Emily

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Ovi
says:
December, 16 2017 at 8:15 am
Hey Sara,
So it may sound wierd for you but the things happened to you are because you were bullied, I suppose.
I would like to talk to you and tell you more in detail what maybe the cause and hoping that we can help each other out.
I would appreciate if you let me a reply.
nick
says:
August, 15 2016 at 10:53 pm
My mother always says to me. I'm the victim and that everybody else is to blame. She told me today its always miserable to visit my home and has a habit of huffing whenever I mention anything that's not possitive.It seems okay with her that I have to listen to her and everybody else's problems in the family though . I don't huff I just listen I have facts to back up my position not in all cases but many.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Maddy
says:
November, 19 2017 at 11:44 am
Maybe you ought to tell her not to come then. It is your house and you do not need people putting you down in it. If she thinks it ok to use you as an emotional dumping ground, and you think it is not, it is your opinion that counts. Of course she will object, but so do kids when you take their sweets away. Don't worry about proving you are right. Getting into an argument about it only gives your abuser a platform.
Line
says:
July, 26 2016 at 9:29 am
Thanks for this article, it's great advice.

I'm struggling with victim mentality and quitter mentality. When I think I have overcome, it always comes sneaking back without me noticing...

Think I'll hang this 5 ways on my wall to remind me to not blame others and take responsibility of my own life.
ramu
says:
May, 1 2016 at 6:54 am
Iam of this mentality feeling unlucky and quarrelling vth frds parents for silly reasons becoming more emotional either on me or on them hepl meeee plzzzzzzzzzzz
darla
says:
March, 20 2016 at 4:06 am
I was sexually abused by my father.my mother acted like I provoked it.it started at6.I told my mom when I was eight she said tell him your not that kind of girl.I finally told someone else when I was ten.from thatbpoint on I was blackballed.labeled a liar.but my older sister was with me the first time it happened.so the truth is the truth.am I truly the victim.does anyone understand the obsicles it created and how it could possably turn me into having a mentality victim attitude.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kimberly
says:
July, 7 2017 at 5:33 pm
I'm so sorry

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kimberly
says:
July, 7 2017 at 5:33 pm
This is usually what happens when we speak up. People call us liars and abandon us. God be with you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 19 2017 at 7:50 am
Hi Kimberly, I'm sorry to hear people have called you names or hurt you. That is not fair and you are right you deserve to be treated better. I know the people who leave really are not the ones you deserve in your life. You deserve people who respect you and we can't change people but we can decide if we are willing to put ourselves in situations with them. I hope you find some peace in knowing the right people will not leave you.
Take Good Care, Emily

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Maddy
says:
November, 19 2017 at 11:47 am
Not all people will abandon you, just the ones who do not deserve you. Asking someone who colludes with your abuser to help you is not really likely to gte you the desired results. Find someone who is not involved and ask for their help. Eventually you will find support. Sending you best wishes and hugs.
John
says:
January, 27 2016 at 10:45 pm
Not sure. I am not an expert. But you might want to google some info on it and read as much as possible. I am positive you are not alone. I know people that way. They never forgive and always blame. Good luck.
Sue seiffert
says:
January, 26 2016 at 1:18 pm
My husband who is 69 years old has this terrible mental disorder called victims mentality..he argues w/me constantly..hes so negative about everything its driving me up the wall! He doesnt realize its as bad as it is! Anyone have any ideas?? I love him but i really cannot take much more!!! Its affecting our communication...please help me!!!!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 28 2016 at 11:39 pm
Hi Sue, I'm so sorry to hear. I think you should reach out to a marriage and family therapist or a counselor, if you are close to your church there may be a counselor there too. Please get help for yourself and hopefully he will join. If he doesn't than at least you will have support which is very important. I suggest reaching out you deserve it. Let me know what you find. Take Good Care, Emily
r
says:
August, 5 2015 at 2:55 pm
When you are a child and someone bullies or mistreats you in some way either at school or at home you ARE a victim if no one is willing to help you stand up to them. Children are dependant beings. But once you are an adult and on your own it is your responsibility to do something about it. It can be very hard especially if your parent/spouse is the bully/abuser. You need to be strong enough to cut them out of your life or at the very least minimize your contact with them and get some help for yourself (i.e. from a counsellor) to overcome it. If you are disabled you need to find an advocate group to support you. It won't be easy, especially if it has been going on for a long time but it is possible. Try to surround yourself with positive, loving, caring, nurturing, supportive people and distance yourself from the people who try to hurt you by pulling you down by their unhealthy behaviour. I know that it's easier said than done especially when they really do a number on your self esteem and you already feel isolated. Try not get your worth and value from other people, get it from God, your Higher Power or whatever benevolent being holds the key to your happiness! Learn to fight for it. BELIEVE you ARE worth it even if it feels like no one else seems to think so.
Ugochukwu
says:
August, 2 2015 at 2:33 am
The article makes some good points. But it somehow panders to the same ideas that sufferers need to break free from - that others are responsible for their situation. The article tends to over emphasize the role of others, which may be true for actual victims of abuse. But that doesn't paint the whole picture. Many persons with victim mentality actually learned such behaviour from their family background, without necessarily being victims of any outstandingly negative events. For such ones the recovery process is not so much about leaving or forgiving the past as it is about them reassessing and adjusting their flawed perspective of the normal ups and downs of life.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 4 2015 at 9:56 am
Absolutely right. Often times background and trauma are overlooked. It's something that is necessary in exploring in therapy.

Take Good Care,
Emily
Andrew
says:
June, 27 2015 at 2:25 pm
Right on C.

I have stuggled for over forty years to get over the extreme bullying I was subjected to. I have tried all the teqniques.

I try to fight it but in the end it always wins.

The bible is right. The day of your death is better than your birth.
C
says:
June, 20 2015 at 5:40 pm
No Chis I wrote that wrong. I am saying the people that bullied me want me to just forget about it and accuse me of having a victim mentality if I can't. But the bullying made me mentally ill. Perpetrators like to switch the blame and say the responsibility is on me to get well and my reaction to their behavior is my responsibility.

That is victim blaming. That is telling me I wasn't strong enough to endure their bullying and it's my fault I wasn't strong enough and I need to get out of that victim mentality so they don't have to pay for my treatment

Republicans This is where I have heard the term "victim mentality' in this context. It was when Republicans accused me of not taking personal responsibility for my mental illness and not moving on from the extreme bullying I went though when I already had a neurological disorder that made functioning very difficult, and this is why I was targeted.

As a result of the bullying I became schizophrenic and started hearing voices at 12. Yet I am looked down upon by bullying republican types who just don't want to pay for my treatment with their tax dollars and so they criticize me for having a victim mentality, want me to cut it out, lift myself up by my bootstraps and cure myself and also overcome the neurological disability I was born with.

Of course THEY feel like victims too. They think we are robbing and stealing from them and they think we are why they can't retire or we are why they have to work so hard or ...you know what I am saying. They blame us disabled people.
hportia
says:
February, 8 2015 at 2:04 pm
Thanks so much for this, really found it at the right time. I am ready to acknowledge this aspect of my personality/past and move beyond it in future. Up to now, I always accepted my various "victimizations" nobly and thought that made me a better person. What I failed to realize was how my own behavior was contributing. Best of luck to all who are working on this too, we can do it!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 28 2016 at 11:39 pm
Hportia very glad to hear! I hope you're doing well. Take Good Care, Emily
sharon locke
says:
January, 28 2015 at 4:52 pm
I really appreciate this blog on building self-esteem as I have bi-polar and have suffered for years with depression side of it and very low self-esteem and of course blaming others I have wasted a lot of my precious life doing and getting nowhere fast. I am in the midst of building back my confidence and family relationships and forgiving one day at a time. I appreciate the article and will make small changes daily from the article which were helpful to me especially playing victim role, which I did for many years. Its time for me to take responsibility now!
Chris Curry
says:
November, 3 2014 at 10:17 pm
Why do people naturally assume mentally ill clients
take tax money from them? I pay for insurance and my meds are through the roof. I also pay for them. Does "c" want to see those however many with mental illness not having good care ie meds. Mental illness crosses all lines age, rich, poor, creeds, beliefs, nationalities. Woman, men gay straight. Do you want to live in a world where these people don't get these meds. Do you have any idea how many drug addicts are self medicating. I know of one person 35 years a crack addict and is so happy to have her Thorazine for the last 5 years. No more drugs. Would you want to cut off support for people with cancer, heart disease. Well I want you to know mental illness is an orphan disease, just get the med cocktail right until it works a little, and that's it. It effects our entire lives, every word, every thought every second of every day. Forever.
Amy
says:
September, 16 2014 at 5:05 pm
when you are the "victim" of a crime or even a secondary victim, it is hard to escape the victim mentality. My ex went to prison for molesting girls, and it seems like me and the kids got "punished". Lower income, mental health issues.... how could I avoid feeling like a victim?
Stuart P. D. Fraser
says:
August, 23 2014 at 1:00 am
Thank you having read this article its quite amazing if we just put the five ways into daily practice and were consistent with them how much easier our lives would be: "Thank you"... take care
Alex Thompson
says:
June, 30 2014 at 4:18 am
Thanks for the above mentioned points to change victim mentality. The best point I liked to escape victim mentality is by creating a new story to get over the past victim shadow.
kellie
says:
June, 26 2014 at 6:05 am
Interesting. I have been accused of having a victim mentality on one occasion. I went home and looked up a few articles on vm. They didn't seem to fit, so I forgot about it.

Fast forward a year ... the very close friend who told me I had a victim mentality admitted that she had in fact destroyed an important professional opportunity for me, then lied about her actions and falsely claimed another friend of ours was at fault. She additionally told me the other friend had lied in order to falsely place the blame on her.

Jesus. What an evil bitch. Glad she's out of my life.

Anyway, I think about this whenever I hear someone being accused of having a victim mentality. Is the accuser in fact the victimizer?
Miranda
says:
May, 9 2014 at 5:26 am
The Maraboli quote actually says "You shake off your self-defeating drama", which makes infinitely more sense than shaking off "yourself defeating drama". :)
c
says:
April, 18 2014 at 12:40 am
I spent most of my life in and out of hospitals. The people that bullied me think it's my fault I am mentally ill because I "let" them bother me. They refuse to apologize. I was supposed to be so emotionally detached as to almost be a sociopath to deal with their collective torture. They almost drove me to suicide so many times. And my friend almost died too.

Bully Mentality- I will never take personal responsibility for my hurtful actions to others. If they complain about what I and a hundred of my closest friends did to them, and the injury we deliberately and gleefully inflicted-- i will accuse them of having a "victim mentality" and urge them to "just get over it" and take "personal responsibility" for themselves. PS I resent having to pay for their hospital bills with my tax dollars
abiodun
says:
March, 23 2014 at 4:07 am
Am very please with these wonderful speech am so happy now I can feel better right now I have a question to ask why all dis victimized been decorate to our life been cuz many people didn't discover it and through their mentality idea cause more problem in our society
Anonymus
says:
January, 17 2014 at 2:27 am
Good article, it highlighted some important points. While many of us may have been victimised in the past (e.g. through abuse, trauma, other hardship etc) a victim mentality will keep us from moving forwards with our lives.

We need to accept responsibility for our own lives into the present and future. We have the power to change our attitudes and unless we do so, we'll be victims of our own minds forever. We can't change our past circumstances but we can change our mindset - this may be hard and some of us may need professional help to do so. But it is important for a fulfilling life.

I was reading the Facebook comments to this article and it is clear that some of the replies were written from a victim mentality. It is sad and I hope these people realise it, and seek professional help.
Tamaria
says:
July, 17 2013 at 3:22 pm
What if my mom has victim mentality and doesn't accept it. She says that she doesn't care if she died and left me. And she said that everyone is out to hurt her including me when I am trying to help her.
roy
says:
April, 3 2013 at 6:27 am
I have been a victim. Thanks a lot and more help from u guys
Dr Musli Ferati
says:
November, 11 2012 at 2:59 am
Mental disorders as complex bio-psycho-social discordance indicates a great importance on interpersonal relationship of mentally ill patient. In this direction, your smart suggestions are welcomed, because through healthy and compact social network improves both self esteem and the feeling of social acceptance as crucial predestination condition of global life performances of any person in respective social milieu.The main precursor to this achievement is oneself ability to review personal responsibilities to appertaining interpersonal conflict or inadequate social adaption. Every moderation in oneself attitude toward interpersonal misunderstandings leads to improvement of social relationship with many benefits on mental health statement. It is hard work to accomplish this personal skill, but the change of social circumstances would lead to more pleasing interpersonal relation in daily life environment. Beside these five ways against victim mentality, there are many others pro-social approaching to develop a satisfactory and supportive social network. By me, it is preferable to make effort to see oneself personality through others look, in order to have a real perceive on self-control, as best way managing of social relationship.
Maria Ramos
says:
November, 7 2012 at 12:10 pm
I loved the suggestions above. Would like to receive more help to improve my self esteem. I am fighting against depression. Thanks God that I'm getting better.

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