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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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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