Part 3 of 5: What Victim Mentality Is and How to Overcome It
Issue 44. October 13, 2023 ✨ Higher Power Coaching & Consulting ✨
photo credit: Omid Armin
1. Realize you have victim mentality
This mentality can be super hard to see because it’s deeply entrenched. Having this mentality doesn’t mean you’re bad or weak. You’ve internalized a mode of thinking that was useful to you at one time, likely because you were victimized somehow.
If you continually think, “If __ would just __ then everything would be okay” you likely have victim mentality. In thinking like that, you act like you can’t do anything about the situation or don’t have any options. But everyone has options, they just might be shitty options.
“Victims” act like things are happening to them, they’re not just happening. That means you’re unlikely to take action because you don’t feel you have agency.
2. Stop blaming
If you constantly blame others or circumstances, you likely have victim mentality. When you stop blaming, you can start to take responsibility for your life. This doesn’t mean no one has done anything or that circumstances don’t suck. It just means that it’s your responsibility to change things if you want them to change.
Actively search for the things you can do to change the conditions you’re not happy with. Maybe you’re in a relationship that hasn’t been working for years. It only takes one person to change a relationship. Most of us know that, but we believe that the “one person” is our partner, not us!
You’re the only one you can control. So stop blaming your partner (or the circumstance) and waiting for things to change and take the reins yourself.
3. Become proactive instead of reactive
This is another way to say that you feel as if life is happening to you, it’s not just “happening.” When you feel like that, you react to life as opposed to acting on life.
Many of us develop this pattern because we’ve been in fight or flight mode for much of our lives. That means physiologically, we have no access to the frontal lobe of our brain where reasoning occurs. The “lizard” brain takes over because it senses danger, and when we’re in that state, we’re not supposed to think; we are supposed to fight or flee.
Your system wasn’t built to stay in fight or flight mode. In that mode, it’s very hard to think clearly, so you react with your lizard brain as if you were in danger. When you can’t think clearly, you can’t live proactively.
Learning to pause is by far the most important tool that you can use to stop being a reactor and become proactive. When you pause and take deep breaths to calm yourself, it lets your body know you’re safe and it’s ok to get out of fight or flight mode. This increases your chances of thinking clearly and being proactive.
4. Making decisions ahead of time
When you’re clear about what’s important to you (i.e., your values), it’s easier to live your life in alignment with those values. Then you can make decisions ahead of time based on those values. When situations arise, you’ve already made your decision and it doesn’t matter so much what’s going on in the moment. That’s because what’s important to you is important to you, no matter what’s happening. Of course, shit happens sometimes, and you might be required to make a decision at the moment, but most of the time that’s not the case.
Here’s a basic example: you decide you’re going to exercise three days/week. The decision has been made so it doesn’t matter how you feel when it comes time to exercise. You made the decision when you were thinking clearly with your rational brain. This makes it much more likely that you’ll live in alignment with your values. You won’t be reacting to life like a victim, you’ll be acting on life proactively.
5. Reach out for help
It’s important to seek help from people who are willing and able to help you. Before recovery, on the rare occasions when I did ask for help, it was from people who’d often burn me. If you’ve been reaching out to the same person for years and they’ve been unable or unwilling to help you, stop fucking reaching out to that person! Find somebody else to reach out to.
If you’re looking for a coach or therapist, talk to their former clients or read their testimonials. Find out if they can help you in the ways that you want to be helped. If you don’t see some improvement in a certain period of time, move on to someone else.
6. Set boundaries
Most people think of boundaries as something we do in response to others’ actions. That’s the case for very few of our boundaries. We decide most of our boundaries ahead of time. That is, we decide the standards for our lives (that’s my definition of boundaries) and then live that way.
Boundaries help us understand what’s ours and not ours, who’s in charge of what. Most people with victim mentality have very poor boundaries. They think they’re not in charge of anything to do with their life. They may blame others for walking all over them. Meanwhile, they haven’t set any boundaries!
7. Make choices
Victims don’t perceive choice. They often say things like “I didn’t have a choice.” It may feel like you don’t, but you do. If you stay at a job you hate because you need to support your family, that’s a choice. You’re choosing your family over contentment.
Once you see that, you come out of victim mentality. Perceiving choice means you recognize what it’s costing you so you can decide whether to take action. If you choose not to take action, that’s fine, but recognize going forward, “This is a choice I’m actively making. I’m choosing to stay in this job I don’t like because it allows me to support my family.” Then stop complaining about it because you chose that.
There are many benefits of coming out of victim mentality. Primarily, you get to live like a mature adult who lives their life the way they want.
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