Victim Mentality is on the increase.
Hardly a day goes by that we see people complain, criticize, blame, gossip or compare themselves to other people.
I certainly struggled with it many years ago. But sometimes playing the victim only limits what we’re actually capable of achieving.
I see it every day around me in friends, clients, and on the news. So many fall into the trap of believing they’re a victim. A victim of poor decisions, bad relationships, the circumstances they find themselves in, and even the lack of success in their business.
“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.”
Richard Bach (Author, Jonathan Livingston Seagull)
As easy as it is to criticize those bogged down in a victim mindset… it’s easier than you think to sink into one yourself.
Of course, you think you’re immune…you’re strong, you’re robust, “I can handle anything that life throws at me”.
But, all it takes is for just one bad thing to happen… and then another… and then another. And before you know it, life’s rollercoaster of setbacks can hit you like a tornado.
But what does victim mentality mean?
It means you blame others around you for the challenges you face in life, even if you can’t prove their negative actions created your situation.
You might also blame many things on your circumstances, which you see as always unfair.
I see examples every day of how easily we turn to emotional reasoning (I feel it, therefore it must be true) to dictate and justify our responses and our reactions. And despite our best efforts, we believe that our emotions are very difficult to control.
But the good news is, we do control them. We’ve just convinced ourselves that we don’t.
The fact is it’s perfectly normal to feel sorry for yourself every once in a while or feel powerless in the face of a challenge.
But if you have a victim mentality, you will see your entire life through a lens that leads you to believe that things constantly happen ‘to’ you, and that most things you experience are beyond your control, and that you ‘deserve’ better.
A victim mentality is a way to avoid taking any responsibility for yourself, your life or your business. By believing you have no power, you don’t take action.
Whereas a healthy person, on the other hand, recognises that beyond random bad occurrences, many things in life happen because of choices they themselves made, and that they have power to choose differently, and think differently. And they understand that when misfortune does happen, it doesn’t carry a personal value.
But some entrepreneurs and online marketers choose to always be a victim.
Crazy as it sounds, their distorted thinking offers them certain benefits.
- They don’t have to take responsibility for action
- They have the ‘right’ to complain and receive attention
- It can make others feel sorry for them and give them attention
- Others are less likely to criticise or upset them
- others feel compelled to help them and do what they ask for
Now if you think about those points, you’ll see some commonality running through them, some themes that pander to the mentality that carry.
What are they? Any guesses?
- They’re getting attention,
- They’re feeling valued,
- They have power.
But a victim mentality doesn’t get you what you want.
A victim mentality makes you weak, not strong.
It makes you passive and full of recycled negative emotions that swim around inside your mind and cloud your judgement.
It makes you needy, manipulative and divisive.
It makes you less able to handle adversity and setbacks in the future.
And, it creates negative and toxic emotions that cripple you from moving forward with any purposeful in your life or business.
The emotions associated with a victim mentality are a massive, destructive waste of time and energy.
But every response we make to people and events—whether it’s out of habit or conscious decision—is a choice. A choice to take ownership of our thoughts, feeling and actions or to throw the blame squarely at the feet of someone else.
It’s our choice to say who is in control of our lives. Either you take control and run your day or it runs you. Your choice!
Like most behavioural patterns, a victim mentality is a learned behaviour that can often be traced back to childhood. But whatever the cause, we’ve been conditioned to feel this way.
Because a victim mentality is a learned behaviour, you can ‘unlearn’ it. It is, however, a process which takes time and can be quite intense.
Today, thanks to the growth in living our lives online and through social media, blame, criticism, over sensitivity, and a general lack of acceptance have become a regular part of our daily lives. Children as well as adults are being affected. Online businesses are quick to comment, criticize and attack reputational credibility of their competitors.
But all this does is create a mindset of powerlessness. We fall into disempowering patterns where we blame others, moan about our circumstances, and wallow in self-pity.
- “Why is she happy in her relationship, and I’m not?”
- “If only I could launch successfully, then things would be better”
- “Why does that affiliate marketer do well and not me?”
- “If things were up to me, I’d charge $197 for that product”
When we perceive our circumstances to be external linked, i.e. we feel this way because of something happening “out there”, we give ourselves permission to not apply ourselves, we blame our circumstances and we avoid moving forward.
The consequence is nothing changes. We don’t grow as individuals, we don’t mature, and nor do we learn from our mistakes. Even though we know that to be an entrepreneur, an affiliate marketer, or just be better in our personal lives or in our relationships, we must do the opposite.
But things can change, we can invest time and work on ourselves, so we experience continuous growth, we can recognize our shortcomings and errors, and accept that we are responsible for our fates and outcomes.
We need to look at our problems and challenged through a different lens. It’s a bit like looking through the lens of a camera with a green filter on it. The view you see if green, but in reality, is the world beyond the lens green? No. So if the “view” isn’t great, you’d change the lens right? In the picture below, is that a real view or distorted view?
In order to shift out of the negative mindset, we have to take time to reflect and ask ourselves:
- What is my ideal outcome?
- What is the intention behind my current responses?
A simple exercise to shift out of this victim mentality is to try a period of “no complaining, or whining.” And by that I mean, no gossiping, judging, no comparing, and definitely NO swearing. When you do this, you’ll realize how powerful words are as influencers of our thoughts.
Breaking this down further, (and I think you’re ready to go deeper!) we think in words, so the words that we say affect the words that we think. Taking the time to be conscious of the way we talk about other people either internally or externally, teaches us to select our words more carefully. It helps up to recognize the things we’re being negative about, and focus on solutions and positive responses instead.
It’s so easy to default to the former before recognizing your unhealthy reaction, but it’s a brilliant (and challenging) exercise in bringing more awareness to your words and thoughts.
Which leads me to explain that your thoughts create your feelings, and your feelings manifest your behaviours. So there’s not much value in changing behaviours alone. Go back to the start and change your thoughts first. This will be what gives you the results.
Finally, it’s worth considering that you get to choose how you respond to every situation you face day in and day out.
So what’s more important? Anger or personal growth?