“The problem that we have with a victim mentality is that we forget to see the blessings of the day. Because of this, our spirit is poisoned instead of nourished.” ~ Steve Maraboli
At some point in life, everyone has had to do something against their will. Everyone has experienced a difficult time when he felt humiliated or betrayed in some way. Many of us have experienced the loss of a loved one, or even of our own health. Some of us have been victims of violence – at home, in school, or in life…
But while some manage to cope with pain, self-pity, anger and guilt, others come to see themselves as a victim. The victim mentality is formed not only as a result of sustained violence or humiliation, but also by the environment. Often people do not recognize and do not even realize that they are acting the victim.
What is the victim mentality?
Seeing yourself as a victim does not necessarily mean that you have been subjected to physical or psychological abuse. A victim is a person, who believes that something or someone is externally controlling his life. Victims see themselves as impotent, believe that external factors control their life, and see life as a wall of insurmountable circumstances.
They feel compelled to do things against their will. They might complain, but they will still do what they do not want to do, thinking that there is no alternative. It seems like that the whole world is against them. Victims always feel dependent on the mercy of external forces and blame them for everything that happens in their world.
The victim mentality can be seen in all areas of our lives:
Relationships: When victims are led to give up their priorities, aspirations, dreams and desires, they lose self-esteem and self-confidence and give up power. Imagine, for example, a man, who gave up the job of his dreams to please his loved ones. He will feel internal resentment that this happened, and anger at a perceived lack of appreciation and gratitude. Even if he feels offended, humiliated or unappreciated in the relationship, rather than take control of his own life, he will instead complain about how he has been treated. In this way, he assumes the role of a victim.
Everyday life: Even in the most minor situations, some people manage to make themselves a victim of circumstance. For example, you might ask a colleague for a small favor – say, getting you a cup of coffee. He might complain terribly, saying that people are freeloaders and lazy and live off of others and so on… In the end he will do you the favor but continue to complain internally about the “injustice.”
But the reality of the situation is this – he has been asked for a favor, and he has to make a choice. He could say – “I’m sorry, I’m not passing by the coffee machine;” he could say he is too busy or he could even say that he forgot. There are many ways to respond. In this case, however, he chooses to feed the feelings of self-sacrifice – “I’m so pitiful, people are always taking advantage of me… ” – This is a victim mentality.
The person with a victim mentality has a habit of complaining about everything – for example, he/she always has to cook, he/she is forced to work for that terrible boss, traffic is always awful… These complaints are hiding something – that he/she waits and hopes for someone else to fix things. The person doesn’t realize that it was all the result of their own choices.
Often, people with a victim mentality will not say anything directly to the friend, who manipulates them or to the boss, who insults and humiliates them. Instead, they go to someone else to complain and to vent their anger with dramatic tales about their rude and arrogant boss, or their selfish and ungrateful friend. People, who see themselves as a victim of circumstance are always complaining and whining. Rather than taking political action, they vilify political leaders and blame them for the problems in society.
Victims are constantly asking WHY: “Why me? Why are people are so evil? Why won’t the boss give me a raise? Why did he/she leave me?” As they look for answers to these questions, they torment themselves and their resulting self-pity only reinforces their identity as a victim. The question they should ask themselves is: ” Why did this happen now? What can I learn from this situation? How can I avoid this in the future?”
How can you give the victim mentality?
First, it is important to understand why we take on this mindset – what benefits does it bring?
The victim mentality brings :
Attention – when we are in the victim position, we get attention, sympathy and support from people.
When we are a victim, there is no need to take risks or responsibility.
Being a victim gives us an excuse to explain our life circumstances. It is an excuse for the fact that we have not achieved anything. We continue thinking that other people have held us back, they haven’t seen our potential, etc.!
Sometimes being a victim makes you feel part of a community. This community grows out of the very sense that they – the others – are ” bad” and you’re on the “good ” side. Your anger about the injustice of their speeches gives a dramatic and even heroic sense to your suffering.
“Poor Me” gives you a sense identity (albeit false). It makes you feel special. This gives you a passive power that calls people to give you attention and pity.
To be able to part with your victim mentality, you must give up the benefits that it brings.
You should also know that creating a new pattern of thinking and behavior takes time, effort and discomfort. Furthermore, when you first begin to change, you may feel unstable, insecure and vulnerable…
But you have to go through this period if you are to regain power and change your life!
Are you ready to give up the victim mentality and live with confidence?
If the answer is “yes,” you can start taking the first steps now:
1. Release the pain of the past.
To overcome your victim mentality, you must release the pain of all those past experiences, buried deep inside. You need to release negative feelings – fear, guilt, hate, anger, self-pity – because they keep you in captivity and reassert your identity as a victim. Forgive those who have hurt you. As I have written elsewhere, forgiveness does not mean justifying the actions of others. It is a purely internal act of letting go of painful feelings. Only when you forgive will you be free.
2. Take responsibility for your life.
The main thing you need to do to regain power is to take responsibility for your life – for the feelings, thoughts, and reactions you choose to experience. Realize that the complaining, unhappiness, and blaming does not solve your problems. Think about what you personally can do and take action.
3. Remember that you always have a choice – we can always, in every situation, choose how to react. At any moment we can regain power by making the right choice.
4. Change your vocabulary.
Change the words in your vocabulary that make you feel like a victim. For example, instead of ” should,” think ” choose to;” instead of “I hope,” say “I will;” instead of “There’s no way out,” think “I know there’s a way and I will find it;” instead of ” I can’t” say “I will try.”
5. Learn to say “no.”
People who have a victim mentality, often have difficulty saying “no.”
6. Change your attitude.
Change the focus – from what you don’t have or what makes you feel wronged – to what you do have and your strengths. Keep a notebook, listing everything good in your life and practice being grateful about it.
7. Taking small steps outside of your comfort zone.
Begin with just one small step outside your comfort zone, and you will begin to change from a victim into a confident and self-respecting person.
The floor is yours – are you ready to gain more awareness as to when you are slipping into the ‘victim mentality’? What do you usually do when you catch yourself doing it? How do you take responsibility for your own creation?