I didn’t think it was necessary for me to write this article, because I thought I had covered it well enough in this previous article. But as I sat down to write my next blog, I kept on being stirred to write about being a victim again.
I asked, “Why should I write about this again? I destroyed my victim mentality long ago, I have nothing more to learn about it!”
And then I started to do a little research on it, and a little bit of looking at my life, and realized that this wasn’t true.
I realize that I don't always take complete responsibility for my actions. I am good at deflecting responsibility by creating a logic-based argument in my head for why something isn't my fault.
I realize that I often don't own up to my life because I feel disqualified and insecure, instead of standing in the authority and leadership that I have.
I realize that I find it very difficult to express myself honestly to others and to ask for honest feedback on my actions, because I'm afraid of being criticized, blamed, or berated.
While it really sucks to realize these things, it's also liberating because I now know what areas I need to grow in. It focuses me.
From my research and personal experience, here are the different ways that victimhood manifests, along with the solutions to getting out of it.
What is the victim mentality?
The victim mentality is characterized by someone who refuses to take responsibility for their lives. Nothing is ever their fault. They often live in pessimism, self-pity, and a belief that their life is not in their control. Nothing is ever their fault.
They blame anything and everything for their problems (which are many), never seeing how they are contributing to or creating their own problems.
The victim mentality creates a suffocating feeling of powerlessness. Victims depend on others for self-esteem. When they receive praise, they are happy, but when criticism comes, they crumble into depression or self-pity.
But the victim mentality is usually more subtle. Let's examine several ways it manifests.
The Martyr is someone who constantly spends lots of time and effort pleasing others, but always expecting something in return. They appear to be selfless givers, but in reality they are just giving out of a feeling of lack, not abundance. They feel the world owes them for what they have given.
The Passive Victim
Passive victims beat themselves up when something goes wrong. They live in "would have, could have, should have." Their negative outlook on life creates downward momentum in which they see themselves as incapable and pathetic, never able to do anything right.
"Their self-defeating, all or-nothing, negative thinking leads victims to measure happiness by an absence of problems rather than the presence of pleasure." - Dr. Kim Shirin
Nothing good ever happens to them, so they think, and even if it did, they'd dismiss it as luck. They are always on the lookout for someone to rescue them.
These victims are always angry or scared. The angry victim hides behind a deep fear of being unloved and alone, and the scared victim holds back suppressed anger and resentment.
As children, scared victims learned that anger must be choked back, and the angry victims learned to shut down and suppress fears that would them vulnerable and open to rejection. As adults, they are sad, angry, confused people who expect very little from life, but still resent it.
This type of victim fixes their sense of powerlessness by lashing out and bullying, controlling, or manipulating others.
Since they feel powerless, they assume that they can only get love and attention indirectly i.e. through manipulation. These victims will often create crises and watch for others' responses of "love," such as sympathy, pity, or concern.
How to break free from a victim mentality
Break up with victimhood
We have to make a deliberate, intentional decision to get rid of the mentality. It involves recognizing that once we break up with victimhood, we will be missing out on its benefits: attention and affirmation, avoiding risks, and avoiding responsibility.
And then we have to make the decision to break up with the victim mentality. Show it to the door, kick it in the butt, and say goodbye.
Take responsibility for choices
In order to defeat the victim mentality, we must recognize that everything is a choice. We must be deliberate to move from a mindset of powerlessness, where nothing is our responsibility, to being powerful, where we take extreme ownership for our lives.
No more excuses!
Change your language
From "I have to go to work today" to "I choose to go to work today, because I need the money it provides."
From "He pissed me off!" to "I got angry at him!"
From "It's my parent's fault that my life sucks" to "It is now my responsibility to change my life."
Forgive and let go
In order to move past the hurts of the past (when we felt like victims), we must forgive the people who hurt us, and apologize to the ones we may have manipulated, controlled, or used in the past.
It can be incredibly tough, and it may take some time before we are fully ready to forgive or say sorry, but it a necessary step to freedom and moving past the obstacle of victimhood.
Nothing kills the victim mentality faster than the simple act of giving thanks. When we practice gratitude, we forget about ourselves and all our problems, and move into a state of peace. Thankfulness gets rid of worry, and is the antidote to self-pity and depression.
“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” - John W. Gardner
Final Notes on Being a Powerful Person
You are not a victim. You are the most powerful person in your life!
You can take ownership of your life. You can manage yourself. You are in control, which means you have the power to take responsibility for your life!
No one is responsible for you or how you feel. Not a bad teacher, angry parent, lousy friend, or a careless pastor. It all falls back on you and I.
I am no victim. I live with a vision. I am no orphan. I’m not a poor man. I don’t simply exist and survive, but I thrive and succeed in everything I touch and do.
The awesome thing is that we each have the choice. It's all in our hands! We can choose powerlessness (victim) or to be powerful (victor).
We can be paupers or princes. Who are we? Which do we choose every day?
Which are you choosing?
Practical Next Steps
Did you recognize yourself in any of the personalities I shared above? Did you see a part of yourself in any of it? Consider what you can do to break free from the victim mentality like I shared above, and live your life the way you are born to!
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Japheth is a writer, photographer, and encourager. He currently resides in northern California where he is learning how to make life awesome every single day.