29 May Overcoming A Victim Mentality
Let’s talk about victim mentality. Before I begin this piece, I want to clearly state that actual victims of horrific abuse from narcissists, criminals, and injuries exist. Those people should receive the support and services they need to overcome these traumatic events. This is not about those forms of victimhood.
What Does The Victim Mentality Look Like?
The issue I want to explore is the sometimes hidden or unconscious identity issues and any following attitudes that arise, creating a sense of negative spiraling and atrophy from allowing ourselves to sit and accept the victim identity within our minds.
The occasions when this tendency is most likely to arise within us is when we are being asked to stretch outside our comfort zone and being challenged in some way by the world or by others. The identity we position ourselves within can lean heavily on past experiences. In turn, giving us a sense of stuckness. Hence, we can feel victimised and incapable of moving forward to overcome the challenge.
As my friend Kevin Flanagan says, words are like spells and each time we use a word we have to understand the deeper meaning of the word. Everyone will have their own connotations of various words but let’s look at the word victim.
Derived from the Latin ‘victima’, in the late 15th century the word was used to describe a creature killed as part of a religious sacrifice. The word has now come to be defined as a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
Why it Just Isn’t Useful
You can see from this that it’s easy to take liberties applying this definition of victim to ourselves. It can relate to any events or actions that might occur in our lives. I’ll attempt to show you why in many cases, using this lens doesn’t help us move forward or achieve what we want.
Recalling the moment in my life when I was deep into drugs and gaming. I really felt like I was dealt a bad hand in life. The unhappiness with where I was working. I didn’t see a clear path toward anything meaningful on the horizon.
I was viewing myself and my circumstances through this victim lens and felt rejected by the world and totally powerless to do anything to improve my situation. That was the lie I had accepted at the time.
Where is Your Power?
Setbacks and things we would rather not happen in our lives, unfortunately, do occur. Our power is located in how we respond to these setbacks! We can’t magically control the circumstances we find ourselves in with our lives but we absolutely are in control of the response that comes from us when something bad happens or we feel that we are not satisfied.
More specifically, how we think about our ability to do something about our situation is where our power and ability to change reside.
It can be alluring to sit in that feeling of ‘woe is me’ in an attempt to elicit sympathy from those around us and many of us use these strategies to get short-term needs to be met.
I want to explore different areas where people might be falling into the trap of adopting a victim mentality and some tips about what to do to get out of it, become empowered, and take the required actions needed to take back control of your life to achieve the results you want!
The opposite of a victim mentality is what I call a ‘can-do mentality’. Let’s look at how to move from victim disempowerment and how to move toward more of a can-do mentality.
How To Spot When You’re In The Victim Mindset?
A Victim Has a Scarcity Mindset Regarding Options
They want to believe that they have no other choice than to accept their fate. They might convince themselves that they have tried everything possible to overcome their circumstances.
In many cases, this can be the result of being in fear and responding to that fear with a freeze response. Doing nothing in the hope that the problem magically goes away is a common thought of someone in victimhood. There might be a certain set of excuses that you give yourself. Perhaps you’ve been conditioned to believe those excuses. The people around you have not challenged you. You’ve convinced yourself they are true.
A good question to ask yourself if you feel this might apply to you is – Do I have to believe this excuse I’m making to myself? Is it time to look at my options?
Do You Believe You Are Not Deserving of Having the Favourable Outcomes You Desire?
Many people starting the personal development journey encounter the same belief. Perhaps it’s been inherited through a legacy of family and cultural beliefs. It relates to what they feel they are and are not deserving of experiencing in life.
The common stories you may be telling yourself about what you deserve in life might be playing on an automatic loop. Perhaps you’ve never realised that you can switch that tape off at any time? A question to ask yourself is whether you hold beliefs about the type of life and relationships someone like you should have.
If you find an answer to that question and you don’t like what you’ve found, you are at liberty to simply change your mind about what you deserve. You are free to decide what you think you deserve without getting permission from anyone else. I recommend you permit yourself infinite potential outcomes.
You Focus on All The Reasons Why You Can’t Overcome What is Happening For You
This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because you have told yourself over and over in your mind. why you are stuck where you are. You believe it so rigidly that any alternative offered to you is instantly discredited.
This becomes like a protective mechanism. The stories you repeat to yourself internally are so believable. The familiarity of the stories creates a strong belief and unwillingness to drop the sense of powerlessness. Ultimately, leaving you with the victim narrative. This hardened narrative prevents other narratives from being explored and ultimately the cycle of feeling disempowered continues.
Others Have A Better Hand In Life and Are at A Distinct Advantage Over You
People have advantages that cannot be overcome. Why bother trying? Some people had a better family background, more resources as a child, or more friends growing up. They become the reasons why you slip into victimhood. You can point to how others had it better than you. It is true that some people get a better start in life but the ultimate potential we are able to realise in our lives is dependent on the amount of motivation, grit, and determination to take consistent actions to move towards the desired outcome we have identified for ourselves.
The excuse of, ‘oh well, they have it better and I can’t overcome that’ is totally weighing you down and blocking you from moving towards that outcome by handing you an easy victim narrative that halts action. You create an advantage by showing up and consistently putting in the required work that it takes to become more skillful or knowledgeable at your craft. Don’t let what others do, have, or achieve stop your pursuit of what you absolutely can have for yourself. Those who have what they have in most cases work damn hard for what they achieve in their lives. You can too!
Not Seeing Yourself in The Best Light
Are you slow to give yourself a break? You probably have an incredibly active inner critic which constantly shoots bullets at you internally. Our critics can work hard to drag us down. Negativity is all around when we listen to it. Perhaps yours is a big characteristic in your psyche that you focus on.
Perhaps you continually see the bad in everything and are always seeing how life is giving you a bad deal. You might be quick to tell others about it too and might push others away. Do others avoid you because of this? Who wants to be around someone who is never happy?
You Might Not Like to See Other People Succeed
Does seeing other people achieving success in their lives annoy you? Maybe you even get angry when you see people doing well. Perhaps you’re annoyed because a friend got the girl you liked? You might find it hard to feel pleased for them because you want to have some love in your life. Because that doesn’t happen for you, you don’t want it to happen for others.
What To Do Next?
A ‘breakthrough-story’ is what you need to overcome the state of victimhood you have been holding onto. The breakthrough story contains thoughts, strategic habits, and beliefs to adopt. An attitude you choose to wear during your day with very specific decisions you need to make to get yourself moving in the right direction.
For me, It was when I’d had enough of feeling sorry for myself. Telling myself the sob story about how I wasn’t going to be able to do anything other than work that boring old job. I made a decision to get professional help. Importantly, learning how to bring doubt to the victimhood narrative.
After a while, I became empowered with a new attitude which allowed me to see a greater version of myself and I started to think about the future self I wanted to be, someone admirable and something exciting to work towards.
Overcome The Victim Mentality
I made a very clear decision that I was going to study psychology because the human mind fascinated me and I always wanted to learn more about my own mind but didn’t know where to start. So at 23, I enrolled myself in a distance learning degree program while working full-time.
Adopting new thoughts and beliefs and having made a decision to do something about my situation, my life began to radically change in a short space of time. It can happen to you or a loved one who might have embraced the above victimhood tendencies in life.
To stop this pattern and put a halt to creating these feelings derived from listening to that victimhood voice, try the following strategies.
- Get an easy win
- Challenge your comfort zone and get slightly outside of it and see if it’s not so bad
- Set yourself a goal that you know you can achieve and go and embrace that win
- Scale up the next week to something bigger
- Achieve something, anything!
- Consider working with a coach to help you remain accountable.
If this was interesting to you, get in touch. I would love to hear from you and work with you to help you drop the victim mentality. You can quickly create a brighter future when you adopt a can-do attitude. Get the outcomes you want to have for your future.
I am a Freedom Coach and Mentor – I help freedom-loving people in their early/mid-career create a Successful Mindset. If you would like to explore some of these themes and move towards achieving more freedom this year, let’s connect and set up a call.
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