“A victim mentality is a prolonged form of suicide.” – Steve Maraboli
At one point or another in life, we are victim of circumstances. We may get attacked, fooled, or hurt emotionally or physically by someone or by unpleasant circumstances in our lives.
While some people might overcome such situations with relative ease or deal with them as part of their daily lives, other people will remain hurt and preoccupied with the problem long after it has passed. They see themselves as victims of other people’s actions or circumstances.
Victimhood is an ongoing feeling that one is a victim. People who have a victim mentality always feel victimized, at least in their minds.
Victim of Life’s Circumstances | Victim Mentality
When in pain, we usually want our suffering to be acknowledged. We want the perpetrators to express feelings of responsibility and remorse, and we want compassion from others.
When you ruminate over personal offenses and suffering such that it perpetuates psychological distress long after the stressor has passed, you become a victim.
Victim mentality is also known as victim complex or victim syndrome. It is okay to feel hurt and wounded from time to time as it is an indication of our self-worth. When you start believing that you are always a victim of circumstances, it becomes a problem.
○ Main traits of victim mindset
Victim complex is based on three main tenets:
- Bad things always happen and will keep happening to you
- Other people and circumstances are to blame
- You are powerless to change your current circumstances, so no point in even trying
A victim mentality may manifest itself in a wide range of behaviors and thinking.
> Here are the main characteristics of victim mentality:
- You avoid taking responsibility for your own life
- You are defensive, even when people try to help you
- You lash out in anger at others
- You wallow in negativity. Such negativity is fueled by the frustration and distress that you feel.
- You are unwilling to take risks
- You suffer from learned helplessness
- Self-sabotage and negative self-talk
- Low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence
- You believe that other people are generally more fortunate than you
- You feel good when you pity yourself or get sympathy from others
- Likely to feel entitled and selfish
○ How it affects everyday life
The tendency to experience victimhood has consequences-cognitive, behavioral and emotional.
- Someone with a victim mentality has not developed healthy coping mechanisms. They have a negative view of life since they are not willing to take responsibility in their life. They feel that life just happens to them.
- People with a victim mentality tend to take things personally. Even when comments are not directed at them, they will assume that they were.
- Such people tend to blame others for everything that happens to them, and they constantly complain about the bad things in their life. They claim that circumstances are out of their control.
7 Ways to Escape the Victim Mentality
The first step in breaking out of the victim mentality is accepting that you have a problem. Since victim mentality is an acquired trait, you can unlearn it.
○ See your situation as temporary
You can go through tough life situations without developing a victim mentality. When things do not go the way you want or when life seems unfair, learn to adjust and cope with unforeseen circumstances. Make changes to improve yourself and your new circumstance.
Situations in life keep changing, and you do not need to view every small problem as a significant disaster. There is no need to view problems as unfixable and unending as change is constant and situations are temporary. What you need to do is to find solutions for these problems.
○ Be careful not to compare yourself to others unfairly
It is natural to compare yourself to others. This is likely to leave you unhappy and feeling inadequate, even if you have enough in life and you should be happy.
Comparing yourself with others is often unfair, as it causes you to minimize someone else’s flaws while amplifying yours. It also takes the focus off you and places it on another person, who you have no control over. Every individual is unique, and it is unfair to compare them with others.
To stop these comparisons:
- Become more aware and conscious of this habit.
- When the thoughts come to your mind, put a stop to them immediately.
- Choose to count your blessings, focus on your strengths and your life journey and be okay with being imperfect.
○ Realize that you are not powerless
When you play victim, you blame others and the universe for your suffering. This will leave you feeling powerless, as you feel there is nothing you can do to make your situation better. But this is not true.
If you do not want to succumb to the victim card, then change your mentality from that of a victim to that one of a survivor.
Focus less on security and safety; focus your mind more on growth and developing positive self-beliefs. Take full responsibility for both good and bad things in your life, as it will open you up to new ways of thinking and behaving that will support your growth to set goals.
○ Change your perspective of what you deserve
The fastest way to have a better life is to change your perspective of what you deserve. It is natural to think that you deserve better in life. You can easily get caught up in this cycle. When you think that you have a right to have it all, what you are essentially implying is that:
- You don’t already have what you want now, and there is something more and better to have. It could be that you are blessed now but you just don’t realize it yet.
- You want wholeness and satisfaction instead of wanting the world. That is why whatever you already have does not give you satisfaction.
○ Create an empowering narrative about your struggle
Respect your past mistakes and struggle. Embrace it rather than ignoring it as if it does not exist. The journey to healing starts when you acknowledge your feelings and how your circumstances affect you.
When you are struggling, your problems do not have to define you; you can empower yourself by changing your narrative.
Create a story that empowers you to move forward. This opens you up to a powerful story and outcome. Your story is not permanent; it should act as your springboard and be your foundation rather than the focus. So focus on the things you want to bring in your life and use the insight gained from your life experiences to ease your way forward.
○ Gratitude: Feel overjoyed for life
Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life. – Rumi
When you play victim, the main focus is on your suffering and what you’re missing out on. Change this perspective and start focusing on things that you enjoy in life. Shift your attention from what you don’t have to what you have. Victimhood is based on the feeling of “lacking”.
Even in the most difficult and negative circumstances, you can find something to be grateful for and be an active hero of your own life. It is difficult to feel like you are a victim when you feel grateful.
Be grateful for the lessons that life teaches you, even the hard lessons. Consciously acknowledge what brings you joy at the present moment, and you will start realizing how lucky you are.
○ The final act: Journal your thoughts
Whenever you feel yourself resorting to victimhood, take a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings without holding back.
Journaling your thoughts and feelings helps you to disclose your own emotions rather than holding them in. Going back and analyzing what you have written will enable you to understand your thoughts more clearly and gain control over your emotions.
In a 2006 study, adults who spent time journaling regularly saw a great reduction in stress and anxiety. Journaling helps you to organize your thoughts on paper, examine them, process them and make sense of the situation. Processing your thoughts through writing gives you a sense of control.
An Overview: Let Go of Victimhood and Be Free
It can be difficult to take control of your life when bad things keep happening to you. You do not have to revel in victimhood, as there is nothing good about it. Even if you cannot change the situation, you can change your attitude towards it.
With determination, awareness, and a change of habits, you can grow out of this mentality and start living a life of gratitude instead of being bitter about life’s perceived shortfalls. An empowered life is accessible to everyone. But you first have to decide to stop being a victim from today!
Are you ready to stop being a victim?