The victim mentality is more common than you might think, and chances are you have seen it in someone else—if not in yourself. Have you ever tried to help a friend, for example, only to grow tired of helping because no matter what you do, the friend continues to see life and other people as ‘enemies’? Or have you ever asked someone to do a small favor for you, only to have them complain and take on this persona of self-sacrifice before ultimately doing the favor for you? Or have you, yourself, ever felt that life is simply a series of insurmountable circumstances? The victim mentality is common and can be highly addictive; and ultimately it can prevent you and your loved ones from grabbing hold of life and getting the most out of it.
If you fear that you or a loved one might have a tendency of taking on a victim mentality, here are some tips on letting go of the victim mentality.
Understand the ‘benefits’ of a victim mentality.
A victim mentality can be addictive because it seems to offer several immediate benefits, namely:
- Attention. Playing the victim is an easy way to get attention, as it often draws out feelings of concern from others. Those around you will quickly grow tired of it, however, if you have a habit of playing the victim.
- Validation. Taking on a victim mentality also helps you feel right, even when you might not be. People with a victim mentality tend to believe that they themselves are right and innocent, while everyone else is wrong or ‘out to get them’.
- Less responsibility. Perceiving yourself as the victim can get you out of accepting responsibility for things. You feel that external factors are controlling your life, and therefore you cannot be held responsible for what is going amiss in your life. This can make being the victim the easier route, as taking responsibility for and control of your life is extremely difficult.
- Community. Sometimes people who see themselves as victims see themselves as part of a larger community of people who were dealt rotten cards in life.
Once you understand what the ‘benefits’ of a victim mentality are, it becomes easier to recognize when you are adopting a victim mentality and why.
Accept that letting go will bring some hardships.
One thing that keeps people going in the victim mentality for so long is its tendency to make living life ‘easier’. You don’t have to take blame for the things that are going wrong in your life. You don’t have to learn to help yourself. You don’t have admit that you’re wrong.
One of the first key steps toward letting go of the victim mentality, then, is to accept that some things will become harder once you do so. You’ll have to learn how to take responsibility for the things happening in your life. You’ll have to learn how to admit that you’re wrong. You’ll have to learn how to be proactive about life rather than passive. If you can accept these things and understand that you’re about to get a lesson in humility, putting an end to the victim mentality will be a whole lot easier.
Let go of your past.
This is easier said than done, of course, but you absolutely need to let go of those bitter feelings that are keeping you down. Stop reliving past negative experiences in your head. Decide to forgive those who may have wronged you. Make the decision to let these things go, talking things out and expressing your pain with others if necessary.
Recognize that complaining and blaming are futile.
Complaining and blaming are two primary markers of a victim mentality. Letting go of the victim mentality, then, means learning to abandon these toxic habits. Recognize that complaining, blaming, and negativity are not going to bring you any closer to solving your problems.
Take responsibility for your life.
This is where you have to take responsibility for your life. Recognize that you, yourself, are responsible not only for how you act, but also for how you feel, think, and respond to situations in life. Accept that while some things happen in life that are completely beyond your control, there are still a great many things that lie within your control, including your attitude. While being proactive and making decisions in life can be difficult, being passive and putting off making a decision is a decision in itself. Remember that you should never find yourself saying, “I didn’t have a choice” or “I had no other option.”
It also helps to practice gratitude. Whenever you find yourself slipping into self-pity, ask yourself, “What should I be grateful for right now?” It can help to keep a gratitude journal or to engage in gratitude conversations with others.
People with a victim mentality tend to exhibit low self-esteem and low self-confidence. One way to continuously battle the victim mentality, then, is to practice self-love. As this article states, you can practice self-love by taking care of your own needs first when you need to, and by accepting when things truly are outside of your control.
Maurine Anderson originally hails from Washington, DC, but is now enjoying life out west in Salt Lake City. She is a professional writer and blogger who in her free time loves to create new cake recipes, travel, and practice her hand at photography. She tends to geek out over linguistics, cats, and all things Scandinavia.