A victim mentality is one in which someone blames others for what happens or has happened in their world. It can also be considered a person who thinks the future only holds bad things for them or they are “unlucky.” It’s buying into and believing that circumstances are beyond your control. And it can be when you believe that what you’ve done or haven’t done during your life is the cause or reason for what’s happening in someone else’s life years and years later. This isn’t excusing someone that is actually an abuser. However, narcissistic and abusive people will have a victim of their abuse believing that they (the victim) are actually the abuser and that they’re crazy. Buying into that thought feeds that victim mentality.
A traumatic event such as child abuse, sexual abuse, or domestic violence can open the door for a person to believe that they’re destined to struggle, that they have or are bad luck. If you accept that way of thinking then you become a prisoner to your own limiting beliefs. For example, a small child sees his/her parent constantly struggling. That child hears the parent constantly blaming others (supervisor, co-worker, family member, friend) for whatever is going wrong. Every statement is about how nothing good ever happens to him/her. As this child grows that is the example they will follow. This child will engage in negative self talk (“I got a bad grade because I’m stupid and the teacher doesn’t like me”). As an adult when things don’t go right it’ll be because bad luck runs in the family or that no one ever taught him such and such. This child will always be the victim of circumstance, taking no responsibility for his own actions, and in essence attracting abusers.
This was me.
I’M THE VICTIM….ALWAYS
There’s a bit of security to be found in having a victim mentality. You really believe this is who you are so you learn to never expect more from the people around you so you don’t end up disappointed or hurt. People seem to help you more even though it’s usually out of pity. And you remove the personal responsibility from yourself because you have no control over yourself or your circumstances with this mentality. This mindset leaks into every part of your life, poisoning your self image, your relationship with everyone around you, and every opportunity that comes your way. It’s negative and unproductive because it will keep you from living. You just exist with this mentality. Survive, not thrive.
1. Take honest inventory. You have to be open and honest with yourself here. Admit to yourself if there are situations that YOU are accountable for? Even if you played a minor role, admit to yourself what your role was and accept it. Even though this may be difficult at first, this step will give you the freedom to move forward.
2. Acknowledge the pity party and your guests. A part of having a victim mentality is that somewhere along the way it was acknowledged and reinforced by others. As I said above, this usually comes from pity and that’s not a positive thing. Acknowledge those areas you can have more control over and figure out how to do just that.
3. Validate yourself. A huge part of falling into a victim mentality is that someone along the way put you in this role. Something happened. And 9 times out of 10, your experience, thoughts, feelings weren’t validated by those around you. And you got stuck in the victim role. Well validate yourself. It happened, whatever it was. And it hurt. In my case it happened over and over again in my own mind each time someone wrote it off as either not happening or not being a bid deal. Well that’s painful to a victim of abuse! However, you have to be strong enough to say “YES IT HAPPENED, BUT I WILL NOT ALLOW IT TO CONTINUE WITH MY EMOTIONS AND THOUGHTS.” Take a deep breath, it’s not happening now. Learn to take the lessons with you, be more cautious, more alert, or whatever you have to do, but don’t take the victimizing woe is me thoughts with you. And if you need to, get support from a therapist or coach.
4. Step into the light. You are the writer of your own story. Do you want to keep living the old story? Do you want to hide in the shadows? You know the old story, but now is the time to write a new one. In your new story focus on solutions, positive thoughts, positive people, supportive circles. This will help you get out of the shadows of the past.
5. Count your blessings. The power of positive thinking is a powerful tool. Focus on what you have, the good that’s happened in your life, what you’ve learned about yourself and other. Look at your strength, you’re still standing. If you need to, make a list. I did this for a time. I kept a journal in which I wrote at least 5 things I was thankful for every single day. Initially it was hard to think of that many (as if 5 is a big number right?) things to add at the end of the day. But after a short time of struggling to find the positives I began to see more and more things in my every day and in my past to be thankful for. I stopped keeping the journal simply because I didn’t have enough time in the evening to sit and write it all down!
I’m writing this post because I’ve been looking at those around me and seeing how my attitude now is affecting my relationships with them. And I’m remembering those relationships just a few months ago. Major difference. The victim mentality is felt by others, including your children. It was very hard for me to take control and reclaim my power. It’s still hard at times. But I had to realize that I was attracting what I put out into the universe. I was relying on those around me for my happiness, yet never expecting them to make me happy at the same time. Can we say crazy? Ok, maybe not crazy, but definitely not logical, possible, positive, or productive.
If you’ve read any of my story then you know that I was a victim of child sexual abuse, verbal, emotional, and mental abuse. And I have struggled with that for 26 years. I’m in a very good place right now, but that has taken work. And I know it will take work to maintain it. These are steps I know that I will have to take over and over to achieve that. I’m hoping that by sharing my story, my struggles, my failure, and my triumphs someone else will be empowered, encouraged, and blessed.
*I want it to be understood that no where in this message do I want it to come across as abuse being the fault of the victim and the abuser being free of responsibility. This message is simply a matter of you choosing yourself and your life over the abuser and you winning your personal war.