What is a victim mentality and how can it be broken?

person holding a cactus branch

What is a victim mentality? How to stop being a victim? The term victim mentality is often used to describe an individual who perceives many issues, if not all challenges in their life as the fault of outside influences and not under their control. Please note this does not mean that you have not or will not go through trauma in your life. This does not mean that people may not have wronged you and will at other times in your life either. Recovering from trauma can be a very long process. This article is about the day to day thoughts that the ‘world is against you’ and feeling that others are to blame for many of the negatives in your life. We will work though how to change perceptions and how to use the strengths and qualities within you to create the life you wish to live.

“By celebrating what’s right, we find the energy to fix what’s wrong.”

Dewitt Jones

What is a victim mentality?

The thinking patterns of someone with a victim mentality could look like:

  • Bad things follow me – If you wake up in the morning late, then you rush around and spill coffee on your shirt, and then you get stuck in traffic, and then someone ‘cuts you up’ on the motorway, and then when you arrive at work your boss throws a negative report on your desk, and then a date you like does not text you back and so on…. This pattern can result in us thinking that everything is against us and we can’t get ahead. In reality that morning could have been very different if we changed our perception of those events and we could have an incredibly productive and healthy day. The power is within your hands. We will find out more shortly on how to change these perceptions.
  • There is no point in attempting to change – ‘I am who I am and that is all I ever will be.’ ‘I am good at this but not good at that.’ These are common thoughts of an individual with a victim mentality.
  • I have no control over my life – ‘I have been dealt these cards in life; others have more skills, more money and look differently to me.’ A person with a victim mentality will likely believe that the day they were born was the sum of their future path and potential.

What does a victim mentality look like to others?

What a victim mentality looks like to those who are with you?

  • Not taking responsibility
    • It is OK to complain sometimes and to vent out our frustrations. However, if a friend always complained every day and they continually complained about a situation without making any attempt to change the situation of themselves then this could drain the emotions of the listener.
    • For example if someone complained they never have any money and rich people get all the luck; but that person was not willing to work over time, they continuously bought junk food and continuously purchased unnecessary products online, then this individual cannot at present see that they have a large amount of control over their income and outgoings.
  • Self-sabotage
    • Someone who is in a negative thinking trap may drink alcohol, eat junk food and partake in bad habits which further exacerbate their issue and also creates a cycle of negative thinking.
    • A good example of this would be someone who has been through a break up may drink alcohol, change their sleeping pattern and eat junk food, which in turn would make that individual feel less worthy, less energetic and more paranoid.
  • Misdirected anger and resentment
    • If someone is feeling very low at a moment in time, then they may misread situations and react badly.
    • For example if someone is feeling particularly low about themselves then they may misread a joke from a friend and take this very personally.
  • Excessive negativity and lack of self-confidence
    • If someone is suffering from low self-esteem then this individual may not feel worthy or may feel that they do not have the strength or ability to make change.
    • If someone is in a negative thinking trap then they will struggle to find a way out and to see solutions.
  • Never seeking solutions
    • If someone truly believes that they have a lack of control and blame others and the world then they will remain in such a thinking cycle unless some form of epiphany arises.
    • Our thoughts cause our actions and our actions create our future outcomes. If we do no change our thoughts then nothing will change.

It is quite likely that someone with a victim mentality is not aware of their way of thinking. It is similar to being lost in a mist or a woodland and they may not be able to see anything different to what is in front of them, which often mirrors past events, past traumas and environmental influences.

“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

Marcel Proust

How to stop being a victim

It is easy to fall into negative thinking traps, and we all can go through this challenge for a very long time. We can also easily fall into an inner dialogue of negativity and a victim mentality. This is very normal. If we want to be happier, grow as a person and be good to others and our planet, we must take responsibility and take charge of our way of thinking. Most people are good, they just have had scrapes and challenges along the road. You cannot control others but only your response.

Forming new thinking patterns

How to stop being a victim and stop a victim mentality in its tracks:

  1. Change your thoughts, change the world – Our appraisals of events in life change our initial thoughts into beliefs, and from these beliefs we then take action. If our appraisal is negative and in particular ‘the fault of others,’ then our beliefs will be reinforced that the ‘world is against us.’ If we want to stop this negative thinking pattern we must first change our thinking pathways. Our monthly mindset coaching can be great way to build newly formed habits and change the way your think.
  2. Morning and bed time routine – When we are first coming out of sleep, our brains are particularly susceptible to information. For example when first waking up, before we even step foot out of bed, if we were to read some bad news, then this negativity would be particularly impressionable on us. Similarly if we go to bed with anxieties and/or if we are angry about something in our lives, then this negativity will act as a marinade whilst we sleep. If we want to train our minds to create new positive pathways then a good morning routine and bed time routine will help tremendously. I highly recommend a compassion meditation in the morning and also practicing gratitude before you go to bed. Our Build Your World Toolbelt has built in meditations and routines to help you with this and much more.
  3. New habits – Following on from a good morning and bed time routine, we can develop further positive thinking pathways and habits. Clinical Hypnotherapist Gail Marra discusses much more about breaking bad habits in her video interview.
  4. Volunteer – Volunteer your time to help a local charity or online and help use your skills to help others. The more you connect with other human beings, the more you learn to be compassionate and the more you use your strengths and values to help others; the happier and more positive you will become. You will begin to understand how much strength you have in your hands and also how you can take responsibility for growth and change.
  5. Take responsibility – We cannot control others but we can choose our response and we can act as a strong example. Be the example for others that you wish to see.

A conclusion of thoughts

It is incredibly hard to change our thinking patterns and it often requires some form of epiphany. Small daily habits and tasks that are positive for us such as gratitude, a morning and bedtime routine, exercise, daylight, small acts of kindness towards others and more can help us organically change our way of being. Make small tangible tasks each day, write down a checklist and your feelings in a diary and choose to be kind to others each day. After several weeks you will begin to feel more hope and inspiration. Such feelings will become your foundations and fuel for a happier version of you.

Thanks for listening.

References

Emotional and Psychological Trauma – HelpGuide.org

trauma-2020.pdf (mind.org.uk)

Unravelling the Mindset of Victimhood – Scientific American

Victim Mentality: Causes, Symptoms, and More (webmd.com)

Victim Mentality: 16 Signs and Tips to Deal with It (healthline.com)

Image references

Featured image – Photo by Intricate Explorer on Unsplash

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