I have to confess that I used to feel like a victim. Even though I help people become fit, healthy, and happy as a personal trainer today, I used to be the polar opposite of all of those things. I used to be so weak that helping people move furniture (and other heavy things) made me feel so worthless that I wished I could become invisible. I was very overweight and out-of-shape, which made me hate my body and my life.
My victim mentality caused me to point-the-finger at anything but myself for many years. As a teenager, I blamed my weight on “bad genes” (even though I shoveled sweets and sugar down my throat at lunch every single day). In college, I blamed it on my “busy schedule” (even though I could always find two hours for Facebook or watching TV without fail). I even had a brief phase in adulthood where I blamed my parents for not taking enough interest in my health as a child, but even that fails in the face of logic. My mom worked long hours so we could live comfortably, so I rode the bus to my grandparents’ house, where I chose to spend hours playing video games and watching Total Request Live (this was kind of a big deal at that time). I could have easily spent at least an hour exercising or playing outside a few days per week, which would have been more than enough to help me achieve a healthy weight, but I chose to dodge personal responsibility, embrace my victim mentality, and wallow in misery instead.
I did suffer bullying as a child–nothing so bad that it involved physical violence–but nonetheless, I think this could have influenced my belief that I was a victim with no control over my situation. A victim mentality is not something that you are born with; it is something that is produced by negative influences such as abusive parents, bullying from peers, threats of harm from a romantic partner, and other extraordinary (and unpleasant) events.
The good news? Since the feeling of being a victim isn’t something you’re doomed to have due to hereditary factors, this means that the behavior can be unlearned. On the day of my college graduation, it dawned on me that I had no one to blame but myself. I was looking at myself in the mirror, looking snazzy in a graduation robe and classy suit, and this thought occurred to me:
“I have full control over my life. If I was able to graduate from college with an excellent GPA despite a massive workload, a part-time job, and all of my hobbies and interests, then I can easily drop this weight that is holding me back.”
Right there, I made a promise to myself that I would become the fit and healthy person I desired to be, and I would no longer play the victim card to dodge personal responsibility. It took a lot of patience and hard work, but I’m happy to say I achieved my goal and built a better body that filled me with self-esteem and confidence unlike anything I had ever felt before.
Do You Feel Like a Victim?
I chose to tackle this subject from the topic of health and fitness, because in my experience as a personal trainer and coach, I’m fully aware that a lot of folks feel like a victim (and this is why they have such a difficult time motivating themselves to begin or stick with a fitness plan). That said, the victim mentality can come in other forms. Tell me if any of the following sounds familiar:
- “I just can’t get ahead.”
- “It’s always something.”
- “I have the worst luck.”
- “Why should I bother?”
- “I couldn’t help it.”
- “Life just sucks.”
If you say any of these things, it is possible you’re playing the victim card to dodge personal responsibility in your life. Please realize that I understand you might not be doing this on purpose, and in fact, it’s likely that you’re not. Your subconscious could be paralyzing your ability to take action because your fear of change is resisting self-improvement with all of its might. If you feel like a victim, you don’t have to be brave enough to make positive changes that would help you transform your life.
How Should You Deal With It?
What can be done about this? Here are 5 steps to help you take responsibility for yourself:
1. Commit to a new, better, healthier mindset.
It isn’t possible to re-model a behavior that has been built by years of repetition overnight, so be ready for the long-game. Remember: consistent hustle always wins.
2. Accept that your life is what you make of it.
You are a champion. You are unstoppable. You can do anything!
3. Use words that give you the power to succeed.
Say, “I can get fit,” and “I will work out!” If you tell yourself you “can’t” or “won’t” do something, these phrases will stop you dead in your tracks, so stay positive.
4. Seek support if you need it.
Your friends love you and care about you. Tell a dear friend about whatever self-empowering goal you hope to achieve and ask them if they will be your accountability buddy. Or, if you’re feeling shy, there are support communities on the internet that are a simple Google search away.
5. Take small steps in the direction of your goal.
If you take a single step in the direction of where you want to be every day, you will reach your destination (I promise).
Talk to Me.
Do you feel like a victim? What is stopping you from taking responsibility for your life? I want to help you however I can, so please don’t hesitate to talk to me in the comments. I’m not shy and don’t bite (hard).