Are you someone who thinks life is out to get you? Do you constantly feel hard done by and that you have it worse than everyone else? If you are feeling a little exposed after reading the first few sentences, the chances are you have a victim mentality, and it is dragging you down in life!
Having a victim mentality is exhausting; I know this because I’ve been there. But you know what else? It is also exhausting to be in the company of those with victim mentalities. Nothing good comes from this mentality, so you must learn to stop it for your well-being.
This article will outline what a victim mentality is and why it harms our happiness. It will also suggest five tips to help you overcome a victim mentality.
What is victim mentality?
A simple definition of victim complex from WebMD is “someone who views themselves as a victim of their life’s events.”
Those with a victim mentality remove any level of accountability for what happens to them. They believe bad things happen to them more than others, and they can’t do anything about this.
This mentality can become a learned behavior as a defensive mechanism in response to a negative event. For instance, people who have experienced trauma in their lives are susceptible to a victim mentality.
People with a victim mentality constantly blame others or external factors for things that go wrong; they never take accountability. According to people with a victim mentality, it’s always someone else’s fault.
Someone in my life was organizing a large-scale music event. I found out it was canceled and asked her why. She attributed the cancellation to a lack of public support and reeled off other external factors. But the truth is, she hadn’t marketed it adequately. People didn’t know about it! But instead of taking accountability and treating this as a learning opportunity, she continued making similar mistakes. She refused to empower herself with self-awareness.
Here are five key signs from WebMD that you may have a victim mentality.
- You blame others for how your life is.
- You believe the world is against you.
- You constantly feel sorry for yourself and it gives you pleasure.
- You attract people with a similar mindset.
- You are stuck in a cycle of negativity.
Why is victim mentality terrible for us?
Ok, let me make this very clear. Not everything is about you. That sounds harsh, but I say this from experience. I was once that person who was slow to listen to a friend in need and quick to turn the conversation around me. I’m embarrassed to admit that I even engaged in the suffering Olympics.
“You think you’ve got it bad; you should try living in my shoes for a bit, then you wouldn’t complain.”
No connection is ever deepened with that sort of lack of empathy! With a stark lack of compassion, people with a victim mentality may experience their social life thinning out as people start to avoid them. Yes, sadly, I know this firsthand.
People with a victim mentality tend to have an external locus of control. This type of locus of control means they believe they have no control or influence over what happens in their life and how they behave.
Victim mentality is unhealthy for us for several reasons.
- Increased negative thoughts.
- Fewer positive relationships.
- Less successful in life.
- Unable to take personal accountability.
- They may experience a downward spiral in their mental well-being.
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5 ways to stop victim mentality
There are no positives associated with a victim mentality. Many of us can recount several people in our lives who we class as having a victim mentality. Let me ask you something. Do you want to be like them? Do you see yourself becoming more like them than you are comfortable with? It’s time to take action.
Here are five ways to help you stop victim mentality.
1. Stop thinking you are a martyr
According to this article, the martyr complex correlates with the victim complex. The article elaborates upon martyr behavior as:
Those who turn themselves into martyrs victimize themselves for the benefit of others. They constantly sacrifice resources against their own self-interest. A martyr takes on the role of her hero.
Do you have a martyr in your life? I do, and let me tell you, it is exhausting! She regularly reminds me that all her neighbors can’t live without her, or her cards club would collapse if it weren’t for her. And then she complains that she has no time for her hobbies because her time is consumed with other people. She is handing away her power.
Many people with a martyr complex become bitter and resentful.
Do some deep soul-searching. If you recognize the tendency to martyr yourself, try and unpick this. Learn to say “no.” Your self-worth does not rest on your “heroic” endeavors.
2. Practice forgiveness
Forgiveness is essential if we want to get out of our victim dungeon. I’ll admit there was a time in my life I succumbed to the victim mentality. I thought I had it harder than everyone else. I compared myself to my peers and friends. Life felt like I was walking through quicksand.
But I realized my burden was anger toward myself, jealousy toward other people, and hostility to the system. Over time I learned to practice self-compassion and stop my mind from taking me to negative places. I learned to practice forgiveness for myself and others.
Forgiveness is an ongoing process. You can’t just decide to forgive and find a place of forgiveness immediately. But all those actively working on forgiveness report a deeper sense of inner peace and happiness.
3. Get realistic
Perspective and realism are needed to conquer a victim mentality.
When we have a victim mentality, we may think, “Everything bad always happens to me,” and we have it worse than others. We are all fighting a battle that no one else knows about. We never know the actual extent of difficulties other people are enduring. It’s time to stop focusing our attention on other people. We can only control ourselves, so placing our attention elsewhere wastes energy.
It’s time to get real. If you regularly share stories that paint you as the victim or are used to garner pity, ask yourself if you intentionally omit the narrative of your involvement.
For instance, It’s easy to dramatize a story about the driver who honked his horn at you and drove on your tail for a few miles, but are you also being open about the fact that you cut in front of him and then gave him the middle finger?
Don’t just tell one-sided stories for sympathy and pity. Be realistic when you assess situations and take account of your actions.
4. Take control of your own wants and needs
It’s easy to blame others for things that have gone wrong.
An elderly couple I am close with constantly points the finger at each other. She says she can’t go out for dinner because he doesn’t want to. She says he is no fun; he says she is always on his case. Does this sound familiar?
We don’t need to rely on anyone else if we want to go out for dinner. We can go by ourselves, with a friend or a family member. And yet, people forget this. They sit in their victimhood of being unable to do something and blaming another person instead of thinking creatively and figuring out an alternative way.
Miley Cyrus is a superb example of an empowered woman. In her latest song, Flowers, she sings, “I can buy myself flowers, write my name in the sand.” Instead of dwelling on the demise of a relationship, she recognizes she doesn’t need anyone else to validate her.
Don’t wait for someone else to buy flowers for you. Learn to take care of your own wants and needs.
5. Find connection through positivity
In my experience, those who suffer most from victim mentality use their victim dialogue to garner pity and sympathy from others. I see this as attention-seeking behavior.
Often, those with a victim mentality use this as a way of building connections. But it’s time to relearn how to build connections based on positivity.
You don’t want people to spend time with you out of pity or a sense of obligation. So try and build your relationships on positivity.
You will likely attract positive energies when you consciously reset your victim mentality. They say, “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” Moving away from a victim mentality will likely result in more fun and laughter.
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How you live your life is a choice. You can wade through your world feeling victimized and hard done by, or you invite greater happiness and fulfillment into your life by shaking off your victim mentality, being accountable, and living your life with intention and purpose.
Remember our top 5 tips on how you can stop victim mentality.
- Stop thinking you are a martyr.
- Practice Forgiveness.
- Get realistic.
- Take control of your wants and needs.
- Find connection through positivity.
What are your recommendations for escaping a victim mentality? Do you have any tips I haven't talked about? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!