This subject is truly close to home from me because I am a recovering addict when it comes to having a victim mentality. I would like to share with you a little of how I am releasing that negative emotional thought pattern and taking responsibility for myself instead.
Before we begin, I want to put a little disclaimer in.
**There are people who are true victims of situations that they had no control over and could not have changed. This is NOT what I am talking about here!**
Right now we are talking about the victim mentality which is an ongoing thought, emotional and behavioral pattern that prevents personal growth and limits happiness and productivity. Someone can be a true victim of a horrible circumstance and still not develop a victim mentality. On the other side of that coin, someone could have an amazing life and have a victim mentality that keeps them so stuck in a place of unhappiness and lack that they are very difficult to even be around.
A victim is someone who is being or has been negatively impacted by a situation or environment over which they have no power or control. Someone who suffers from a victim mentality believes that they do not have control over how they react to negative situations or environments. People who identify on an emotional level as victims tend to be stuck in a negative downward spiral of blaming or manipulating others in order to justify themselves and complaining about their lives.
What does identifying as a victim look like?
People who identify as victims often believe things like…
- Other people MAKE me feel bad about myself.
- I cannot be happy because of a particular circumstance in my life.
- It is not my fault that I behave, think or feel this way.
- I am dependent on another person or circumstance for my happiness
- I deserve to be treated poorly by others.
- I cannot change unless someone helps me and no one will help me
- I always get taken advantage of or used by others and it’s not fair
- I am powerless to change my current situation
- Bad things always happen to me, this is not my fault and I can’t change it, so how am I supposed to be happy?
- I cannot change the way I feel! That’s just who I am!
So how does playing the victim benefit us?
“Okay, hold up, WHAT? How can playing the victim all the time serve us? Didn’t you just say it was a negative thought pattern?”
Every negative pattern or belief that we hold serves us in some way, or at least, part of us BELIEVES that it serves us. Often negative thought patterns validate deep subconscious beliefs that we hold about ourselves. In the short term, identifying as a victim can also seem easier and more manageable than taking full responsibility for creating your own reality. The victim mentality can also serve us by...
- Preventing us from having to take responsibility for all the negative actions or thoughts that we have had in the past (which is a scary thing to do)
- Limiting self growth which keeps us small and safe
- Validating the part of us that believes being a victim makes us more relatable to other people in our lives who are also stuck in a victim mentality.
- Placing the responsibility of creating happiness in our life on someone or something else. When being happy seems like an impossible goal, playing the victim allows us to just find that special person or place or environment that will MAKE us happy instead.
Do you ever find yourself falling into these patterns?
I think most of us play the victim occasionally but for some of us, it is the framework for the way we perceive the world.
No one wakes up one day and says “I think that I will subscribe to the victim mentality today. It seems to be popular!”
This belief system is often passed down to us through parents or other authority figures in our lives. Sometimes, there was a traumatic event in our past when we truly were a victim but instead of choosing to take responsibility for how we reacted to that situation, we allowed the victim mentality to set in.
So time to take a close look at how you react to your environment and the people around you.
Ask yourself the following questions and take the following steps:
- Do you tend to think things like…. “They MADE me feel this way” - OR- “I CAN’T change the way I feel about this” - OR- “It’s not my FAULT!” ?
- Take a day to just monitor your thoughts and spoken words for the key capitalized words above.
- Be open to the idea that you may identify as a victim some of the time. You may be surprised at how often these key words come up.
- If you do notice these words popping up in your speech or thoughts, try not to judge yourself for thinking this way, just observe.
- Try to notice if there are any feelings or emotions associated with these phrases. Is there a feeling of resignation, obligation or dis-empowerment associated with these phrases? Is there a sense of anger or resentment towards others when things don’t go the way you hoped they would during the day? Again just notice and observe, try not to judge yourself.
- You may want to start taking notes in a journal or employ some other method of keeping track of these patterns in your thoughts, emotions, speech and actions.
Okay, maybe you noticed some patterns and you recognize that you play the victim more than you would like to.
How do you get out of the victim mentality and start taking more responsibility?
First we need to change some core beliefs that you may hold. These statements are great reminders of your own personal power and you can use them whenever you notice yourself falling into a victim mindset.
I may not be able to control this situation, but I CAN control how I feel about it and react to it!
This is a big one. There are certainly external circumstances in our lives that we have little or no control over. These things can be little or big, but they happen every day. We are in control of how we react to them, however. You can also choose to view a situation with love and compassion instead of anger, frustration or resignation.
I am POWERFUL and I create my own reality!
This is one of those statements that I encourage you to say, even if you don’t fully believe it at first.
The more you say it and think it to yourself, the more you will believe it and the more powerful you will become. We create our own reality by changing the way that we perceive our reality.
If the way that you interact with the world is based on the belief that you are powerless to change the way you think, feel and act, then that powerlessness will become your reality. If you instead CHOOSE to believe that you are a powerful, amazing being that can change your reality, then the way you think and feel about your reality will change, and you will open the door for more positive opportunities and circumstances to occur in your life.
Pretend for a second that you are the CEO of a company (if you actually are a CEO, congrats no imagination required!). You need to promote one of your employees to fill a position that requires a lot of competence and responsibility. You have two employees who have equal skill sets and intelligence, but employee A is confident and believes in their own personal power, and employee B is competent but likes to complain and tends to blame others for their personal failures. Which one are you going to promote? The choice would be simple. By not playing the victim, employee A created an opportunity for promotion while employee B remains stuck in their current reality.
I forgive myself for the poor choices that I made in the past. I know more now and I CHOOSE to take responsibility for my actions today!
Situations will come up where you are confronted with decisions and choices that you made while you were still identified with the victim mentality. Instead of falling back into the victim mentality by thinking “That decision was not my fault, I didn’t know any better at the time”, take responsibility for your past decisions, forgive yourself for making mistakes and choose to do better this time. Don’t let yourself fall back into old patterns by blaming your ignorance or anything or anyone else for past mistakes.
So when you find yourself blaming others or trying to dodge responsibility in any way say…
Assigning blame does not serve me. I release all fault and all blame. I choose to react to this situation with love and compassion.
This is especially true when it comes to the reasons why you became identified with the victim mentality in the first place. I see so many instances of people who are deep into their self growth journey and who are recognizing these patterns in themselves but who cannot stop blaming their parents or childhood mentors for their patterns.
Whenever they hit a bump in the road and start having feelings that they don’t like or no longer want to identify with they start assigning blame. “Why did my parents teach me this victim mentality?” or “I wouldn’t even have this problem if my school teacher didn’t teach me this!”
Let it go.
Everyone is in a different place in their self growth journey. Have some compassion for your parents / mentors and recognize that they probably did the best that they could with the tools that are available to them at this point in their journey. Be Mindful of any blame you are assigning to them, Forgive them for unknowingly passing the pattern onto you and step into your power and CHOOSE to step out of that pattern now.
Let’s go a little deeper into that process…
MINDFULNESS allows you to monitor your thoughts, feelings and emotions in order to identify patterns of behavior. You have to know that you play the victim. You ALSO have to know when you play the victim, how you play the victim (what thoughts or feelings allow you to play the victim) and why you play the victim (how is it serving you). These are all things that you recognize and monitor through mindfulness.
FORGIVENESS allows you to release your attachment to being the victim. When you forgive yourself for negative thought patterns of any kind, you are recognizing that you are MORE than that thoughts or behaviors. There is a part of you that is able to do the forgiving. There is a part of you that is so above and beyond playing the victim that you are able to move on completely and institute a change at the most basic level of your being.
FAITH is the knowledge that things can change for the better even if you don’t understand the exact mechanism for the change. Faith is when you know that you have the power to change your reality even if you have no past evidence to back up your case. There is this light that turns on inside of you when you say “I am a powerful being and I can change the way that I think and feel about things. I choose to change my reality!” When you are able to step into your power and CHOOSE to behave or thing differently that is when the magic happens and you open those doors for your new reality to set in.
Do you have any tips for releasing the victim mentality?
Leave your tips and tricks and thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!
Sending you all my love and compassion,