In life, there are some things within our control, and other aspects that are completely uncontrollable. For starters, your mindset is something that you have the power to control, but so many people don’t hone this skill. That’s because it takes work — from self-reflection to practice, which all include being vulnerable and honest with oneself. As such, many people end up suffering from a victim mentality. If you feel like the world is out to get you because of past traumas, then learning how to stop being a “victim” will help you regain control.
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What is Victim Mentality?
The victim mentality is an acquired personality trait that may have found its grounds in one’s traumatic past. People who suffer from the psychological condition of victim mentality believe that many aspects of their life is out of their control.
This draining mentality causes them to live in a mindstate that regularly avoids responsibility. Instead, they are constantly living in a fearful state and are oftentimes angry at those around them, as well as situations that they are in.
Am I Suffering From Victim Mentality?
Anyone can potentially feel like a victim. However, a lot of people who do suffer from a victim mentality have endured trauma in their past, like sexual abuse or violence.
Others may have witnessed their family members playing the victim and learned to follow suit. Additionally, co-dependent relationships can cause people to adopt this mindset.
The first step to come out of it is to address you feel this way and then move towards growth.
Here are some signs of victim mentality:
- You constantly blame others for situations in your life
- You feel pessimistic and that you are stuck
- You have adopted a “life is against me” philosophy
- When considering your own problems, you don’t see the perspectives of others
- You feel powerless and, therefore, when facing any problem in your life, you have trouble coping
- When given constructive criticism and feedback, you feel attacked
- You tend to attract people who complain and blame
- You suffer from constant negative self-talk
- You find it hard to self-reflect and make changes
- You find pleasure in feeling bad for yourself
- You seek sympathy from others
Benefits to Victim Mentality
You may be wondering if the victim mentality is full of negativity, then what does someone gain from this mindset?
Interestingly, there are aspects of this way of living that provide people with certain “benefits.” While these aren’t actually beneficial in the long run, these feelings provide brief satisfaction and pleasure to those who suffer from constantly feeling victimized.
These feelings may include:
1. Attention and Validation:
People with victim mentality often receive the attention of others who feel bad for them. This could feel good for some time. But, once people realize it’s constant, they may be less willing to give up their attention.
2. Less Risk-taking:
If you feel like a victim, you probably won’t take many risks or expose yourself to vulnerability. While this protects you from rejection, it also limits the amount of opportunities you can grow from and experiences you can have.
3. Less Responsibility:
Taking responsibility for your own life and actions can feel heavy and burdensome. Playing the victim means you can convince yourself that things are just happening to you and you don’t have control.
4. Feeling Right:
If you’re playing the victim, you may convince yourself that someone is acting wrong or in the wrong. Then, you receive short-lived joy from “being right.”
How to Stop Being a Victim
Perhaps you feel that you may be playing the victim and stuck in this mentality.
Whether you’ve felt like this for a long time or a little bit of time, you are looking for ways to move past it.
Consider trying the following practices to stop being a victim:
1. Practice Self Compassion:
Becoming a victim might not have been an active choice. You may have suffered abuse or trauma in your past. Whether you have or have not, it’s important that you are kind to yourself. Try instead to practice self-love and self-care. You can seek help from a therapist or try techniques like journaling and positive affirmations.
2. Ask Why:
One way to identify what’s happening in your mind is to stop and ask yourself, “what thought is causing this suffering?” Thoughts are fleeting and temporary. One way to really understand this is to practice meditation and simply notice your thoughts that appear out of nowhere, and disappear in the same way. That way, you can learn to let negative thoughts go.
3. Perform Acts of Kindness:
Those suffering from victim mentality get stuck thinking about themselves most of the time. By going outwards and performing acts of kindness, you can feel joy and gratitude that involves others. Once you realize this sense of worth, you can move beyond your own headspace.
4. Make Conscious Decisions:
Take back control of your life. Rather than believing things just happen to you, make decisions for yourself and deal with the consequences. Hopefully, you can make good decisions and benefit from them. In the event something goes wrong, you can prepare in advance for the worst-case scenario and also learn from the experience.
5. Practice Saying No:
Often, people feel they have to do things they do not want to. Take control of your life and understand that you can say “no.” While you may feel like you are letting someone down, you need to prioritize your well-being. Everyone has needs that require attention and care.
6. Change Bad Situations:
If you’re facing a situation in which you feel like a victim, get to writing down a list. Consider all the ways in which you can redefine and change the situation before accepting the role of being a victim. If you feel stressed, then try stress relieving techniques.
7. Practice Forgiveness:
The ability to truly forgive someone for wrongdoing may not come easily. However, when you forgive someone, you let go of the anger and sadness you feel regarding a situation. That opens up a place inside you to let more good in rather than sulk in the sorrow.
8. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone:
People are creatures of habit. It’s easy to get into a routine and stop considering new options and choices. This is one way that your victim mentality can exist in a loop. Take opportunities to try new things, meet new people, and move out of your comfort zone. Perhaps experiencing changes will help you see how much control you have over your life.
9. Read Books on the Topic:
Read books about the victim mentality and what it means. That way, you can truly understand the situation you are in and make the necessary adjustments in a healthy way.
10. Practice Gratitude:
When you are in the victim mentality, you are caught up in suffering. Instead, shift your mentality to focus on things you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude is uplifting and allows you to be more present in your current situation and focus on the good.
Come to Terms with the Idea That You’re Not a Victim
Sometimes, accepting you’re not a victim is easier said than done. Not only do you have to remind yourself you’re not a victim, but it’s your own mind that is putting you in these feelings in the first place.
Here are some ways to help move past this feeling of suffering:
1. Stop the Blame:
One of the biggest lessons you can learn is to not take things personally. What people do is a reflection of themselves, not you. You only have responsibility and control over your own actions and reactions. Once you let go of blaming others for how you feel, you can take back control.
2. Silence Anger and Self-Pity:
Often the depth of your anger is more about frustration than the situation’s current circumstances. Rather than sulking in the pity from a situation that makes you angry, understand where the feelings come from. See the role you played in the situation and move past pitying yourself. Instead, see how you can take action to resolve the issue at hand and prevent it from happening again.
3. Take Responsibility:
You’re the only person who can control your actions. While you may not always be able to control how you feel since feelings can be irrational, you can simply acknowledge thoughts and feelings. However, it is up to you to control the steps you take in your life and relationships.
4. Give Yourself a Break:
Take it easy. Change takes time and self-reflection isn’t meant to be a practice of beating yourself up.
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Change your Communication
How you communicate with both yourself and others sets the tone of your being, relationships, and experiences.
Your communication is also how you express to others how you’re feeling, so you want to be able to master this to make sure you are accurately sharing what you need and expect with others.
1. Be Assertive:
Be honest and stand your ground for what you believe in. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want.
2. Set Boundaries:
Learning how to say “no” and setting boundaries means that you are defining your life. This way, you don’t have to feel that anyone is taking advantage, because you don’t let them!
3. Show Confidence:
Confidence is important for yourself and for your relationships with others. People will show you respect and understand they can’t walk all over you. When you’re confident in your feelings, your actions will reflect it.
4. Empathy vs. Sympathy:
Empathy is the ability to step in someone else’s shoes and see experiences from another perspective. This is an actionable feeling. Sympathy is pitying and feeling sorry for something. This doesn’t promote action. When you understand the difference, you can practice empathy and empower others.
Learn where and what you can control, as well as the things you don’t have control over. Some things in life just happen. It’s okay to take a step back and see them unfold before taking action.
6. Be the Change:
By realizing your power and ability to make changes, you can literally be the change you want to see. This does take work. It requires reflection, meditation, practice, self-love, and communication.
The Bottom Line
The first step in making a change to relieve yourself of the victim mentality is to understand you’re suffering from it. Once you realize this, you can take an active role in overcoming it. While doing so, it’s important to remain kind to yourself and don’t make yourself a victim for feeling like a victim.
There are some things that you can control in life, and that’s how you react and communicate. When it comes to others, you cannot control what they do, but you can control how you respond. By practicing self-love, reflective, acceptance, and gratitude, you can work towards feeling confident and taking responsibility for your own life and relationships.