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Last Updated on February 3, 2020

4 Signs You Have a Victim Mentality (And How to Break Out of It)

4 Signs You Have a Victim Mentality (And How to Break Out of It)

Are you one of those who have succumbed to the victim mentality trap? Ask yourself, when bad things happen, do you take responsibility for them, or do you blame the world?

If it’s the latter, you likely have. When challenges occur in life, it’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you and assume that the world is out to get you.

It’s okay to have a pity party now and then. However, if it gets out of hand, it’s easy to start floundering in victimhood.

It is impossible to be the driver of your life if all you do is play the victim card. In my opinion, this is the fastest way to lose your power. You have two choices – believe that life is happening for you or to you.

What is a Victim Mentality?

People who have a victim mentality believe that life happens to them rather than for them. As a result, they are quick to feel victimized when something doesn’t go as planned.

Victim mentality is a is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize or consider themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others.

At its core, a victim mentality is a form of avoidance. It’s a way of saying, “I refuse to take any responsibility for myself or my life.”

As a result, you may avoid stepping outside of your comfort zone, making difficult decisions, or doing anything to improve the state of your life. In short, you remain stuck and paralyzed by fear. I think we can all agree that this sounds like a bad place to be.

Steve Maraboli said it best,

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“The victim mentality will have you dancing with the devil, then complaining that you’re in hell.”

Unfortunately, there is a huge payoff to adopting this mindset. You are given the space to have a pity party, to ignore messy emotions, and to get sympathy from others.

It’s only when you are ready to shift your perspective and see the events of your life as fully in your control that you can step into your power.

How Do I Know If I Have a Victim Mentality?

Let’s look at four signs that you have a victim mentality and find ways how to break free from it.

1. You Catastrophize All Your Problems

Individuals who catastrophize problems are always thinking the worst. Catastrophizing your problems is when you allow yourself to believe that even the smallest inconveniences are the end of the world.[1]

If you always assume that the worst will happen, the Universe will listen to you and give you precisely what you’re asking for. The next time that you catch yourself thinking about how awful something is work to put your experience into perspective.

Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” This will help remind you that the outcome may not be as bad as you expect it to be.

2. You Feel Powerless

One of the hardest things to deal with when you live with a victim mentality is feeling helpless. When bad things happen, it’s easy to feel like you have no control over the situation.

When you find yourself in one of these situations, focus on the things that you can change. Finding something that you can control can help you feel like you have some of your power back, and that’s a big step.

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Another way to break free from feeling powerless is to practice saying “no.”You don’t have to do everything that is expected of you. It is okay to put your own needs first.

3. You Engage in Negative Self-Talk

Self-doubt is intimately connected to victimhood. Once someone falls for the victim mentality, they will subconsciously self-sabotage their best efforts so that they are congruent with their conscious mind.[2]

If you believe that you aren’t worthy, you will always feel as if the world is out to get you. Destructive beliefs will nourish victim behavior, to the point where putting yourself down becomes a norm.

4. You Think That the World Is out to Get You

If you feel like the world is constantly trying to hurt you or make you miserable, you know that you have spiraled into victimhood. Life isn’t out to get you. In fact, it’s always trying to work in your favor if you choose to adopt a growth mindset.

Sometimes things will happen in life that are out of your control. It’s your job to decide how you are going to respond to those events. When you start seeing challenges as opportunities for growth, all of sudden, you start noticing that life is forcing you to level up, which is a blessing in disguise.

How Do I Stop Victim Mentality?

The first step to breaking out of a victim mentality is understanding and accepting that you have one.

The next step is to shift your thoughts from feeling like a victim to realizing that you are a survivor. It’s incredibly freeing when you realize you are no longer a victim of your life circumstances.

If you want to be a true survivor, you’ve got to focus your attention less on safety and security, and more on developing positive self-beliefs.[3]

Survivors know that they are the CEOs of their lives, meaning that they take full responsibility for everything that happens, both good and bad. Also, instead of seeing the world through a black and white lens, survivors are open to new ways of thinking and behaving if it will support their growth and evolution.

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1. Identify and Challenge Limiting Beliefs

Beliefs are conditioned perceptions that are built upon old memories of pain and pleasure. These memories are based on how we have interpreted and emotionalized our experiences over time.[4]

If these beliefs are disempowering in their nature, they lead to self-sabotage and a feeling of helplessness. If you want to stop being a victim, you have first to identify the critical inner voice that created feelings of victimhood and injustice.

When did feelings of self-pity, low self-efficacy, and false blame first take shape in your life?

A victim mentality can usually be traced back to one’s childhood, as a survival mechanism or as a learned behavior that we observed from our parents.

When you start to understand why you feel the way you do, you take responsibility for thoughts and realize that you have the power to change and shift the narrative from one of a victim to a victor.

2. Take Responsibility for Your Life

When you take responsibility for your life, you take ownership of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. You design life on your terms because you know that you have the power to create your reality.

The moment that you stop blaming the world is the moment that you shift from victim to victor. All of a sudden, life starts working in your favor because you chose to show up for yourself.

3. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Victimhood is grounded in a feeling of ‘lacking’ as if there is never enough of something. The opposite of ‘lacking’ is ‘abundance,’ which is where gratitude comes into play.

The quickest way to stop being a victim is to adopt an attitude of gratitude. Make a habit of asking yourself, “What am I grateful for today?”

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Gratitude is simply the conscious acknowledgment of what brings you joy in the present moment.

When you stop obsessing about your own stuff and look at the bigger picture, you start to realize how lucky you really are.

Take a look at these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

4. Think Positive

Victimhood thrives off of negative thoughts. The best way to shift from victim to victor is to change your thinking. Instead of looking for the bad in something, find the silver lining amidst every challenge.

Your thoughts create your reality. When you start focusing on the good, you attract more positive things into your life.

That is the moment at which you will open yourself up to live an abundant life of positive growth and change that has the potential to transform your life.[5]

In the words of Martin Seligman,

“Optimism is very valuable for a meaningful life. With a firm belief in a positive future, you can redirect your life towards what’s most important.”

Final Thoughts

If you’re tired of playing the victim, decide that you are ready to become the master of your life and then act on it. You are capable of great things if you believe in yourself and act on your beliefs. Now is the time to take back control of your life. Are you ready?

More on Thinking Positive

Featured photo credit: Remy_Loz via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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