Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

“This above all, to refuse to be a victim.” ~Margaret Atwood

Are you a victim of your own mindEveryone knows someone who lives with the “victim mentality.” They’re the people who are always complaining that “bad things are happening in their lives.”

Rather than take responsibility for their circumstances, they’re always looking for someone or something to blame for their problems.

They focus on anything negative they can see in their lives, and while they may occasionally acknowledge something good that happens, they always turn back to the negatives. They subscribe to Murphy’s Law–that if something can go wrong, it probably will.

They say things like, “it’s always something,” or “I just can’t get ahead,” or “life just sucks.”

Related: Are you being gaslighted? Top 10 warning signs

And, of course, they’re right. They can’t get ahead, because they won’t allow themselves to believe that they can. They are so focused on the things they don’t want that they forget to focus on the things they really do want.

Simply put, when we take on the victim mentality, we stop taking responsibility for our own problems.

This makes us victims to our circumstances, rather than the creators of our own realities–or as Richard Bach so eloquently put it, “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.”

When we think we have no control over our own lives, we believe we’re victims. We get depressed and we feel oppressed, like we have no power. We feel overwhelmed and overburdened, and the idea of being happy becomes an abstract concept rather than a real possibility.

It seems like living as a victim wouldn’t be good for anyone, right? But the truth is that people who embrace the victim mentality must get something out of it, or they wouldn’t do it.

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So how does the victim mentality benefit anyone?

  • Validation and attention: It feels good when people pay attention to you. It feels good when they say nice things and give hugs and try to support you. But the flip side is that eventually, people get tired of hearing a victim complain, and many victims lose friends when they can’t get a handle on their “victim behaviors.”
  • Clean hands: It’s hard to take responsibility for the things you perceive as negative  in your life. People  with the victim mentality find it easier to blame someone or something else for the problems or circumstances in their lives. But taking responsibility means acknowledging that you can make real and lasting changes in your life.
  • No risk involved: Being a victim allows a person to avoid taking the risk of getting rejected or of failing. The problem, of course, is that if you never take a chance on anything, you will always stay right where you are–no growth or personal change can happen in a vacuum. It sucks to get rejected and it’s hard to fail, but if you don’t take the occasional leap of faith, you won’t ever be able to successfully create the life you want.
  • Part of the crowd: Like attracts like, so it only makes sense that people with the victim mentality attract people like them. When you’re in a social situation and everyone is complaining about the negative things in their own lives, it’s easy for even the most positive person to fall into the trap of victimhood. But as in any situation, we bring about what we think about–so the more we focus on the problems or concerns we have in our lives, the more of those we draw to ourselves.

Sometimes, just understanding the benefits of such a negative way of thinking is enough to help you make a positive change in your life.

Looking at a situation logically, you can make the choice to perceive it either positively or negatively.

Playing the victim means that you don’t have to take a chance, you don’t have to move forward, you don’t have to take action.

Dropping the victim mentality can open a whole world of possibilities for you–some of which you probably didn’t even know existed.

Next time, we’ll discuss ways to overcome the urge to be a victim, and ways you can take control and create the life you truly want.

Do you or someone you know live with a victim mentality? Tell me in the comments!

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10 Responses to Identifying Victim Mentality: Why Some People Choose to Be Victims

  1. I was raised in a victim mentality my mom always called the luck of the West- or should I say the Bad Luck of the West, since I knew little of my fathers family I thought they must have a curse on them. It has had such damaging effects over my life and my daughters, whom is not speaking to me because of this very attitude. I learned that the “West” family were smart, successful, very enduring people. There was no curse except for my mothers victim attitude. I will be 50 and my goal is to break free from this. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Robin, thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. I also grew up with people who embraced the victim mentality, and while it was definitely a challenge to overcome it, it is so worth the trouble.

      I believe you can overcome it too. Stay strong and remember that you are the creator of your own reality! Hugs, and thank you again! <3

      Stay tuned tomorrow as I'll be offering tips on how to let the victim mentality go and take control of your life.

  2. The key to life? ALWAYS stay positive – or my favorite term: Take lemons and make lemonade!

  3. This was me until filing for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order changed my life. The pinnacle moment for me was sitting in a DV group and listening to how much significance some of the women got out of being a victim. One woman was in her third marriage where she was being beaten by her husband. She was a beautiful woman in her late 40’s. She walked with a cane as a result of a beating from her first or second abusive husband. She stood up and spoke like a proud war veteran ~ it so disturbed me that I called her on it. I told her that she would die unless she found another way to feel significant in her life. I felt I had to stand up for the several very young women who were there looking for answers, looking to break free from abuse and stay alive.

    Living with a victim mentality is a waste of life. It’s a cop out. When I took responsibility for myself I broke free. It was hell, I knew it would be, but it wasn’t even close to the hell I lived with everyday knowing I was a prisoner of my own choosing. Today I am happily married to a loving man who continually supports me in my growth as an individual.

    If you want to break free of victimhood, volunteer with real victims, children who have no choice. Make a real difference in the world, change their world, their view of themselves and on that path you’ll creat a different view of yourself as well. Best of luck . . .

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Darris. You’re right–the victim mentality is definitely a cop out. I’m so happy to know that today you’re living in a safe and healthy relationship. Love the suggestion to volunteer with kids. Thank you!

  4. Thanks for this; I am relieved that someone agrees with me. I recently had a really nasty experience on a blog. I was attacked by a number of posters for pointing out that having high self-esteem and thinking positively are the true keys to happiness in life. I thought I was being inspirational, but these people tore me to shreds! The comments ranged from accusing me of being “smug” and “condescending” to “eff you.” I was floored! Meanwhile, many of these people pointed out that they had been abused. They claimed that I was “blaming the victim.” No way was I doing that. Hey, I have suffered my share of abuse in life. But I long ago chose not see myself as a victim, and to rid my life of dysfunctional people. The sheer hostility of their reactions made me realize that there are many people who are deeply invested in being victims, and my refusal to do so held up a mirror that reflected what they didn’t want to see within themselves. It was a real eye-opener.

    • Hi there ABC, I am so glad you found some relief in the post. I can totally relate to what you’re saying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dealt with a similar situation. But I still keep trying to spread the word on happiness–I feel like if I can help even one person, it’s all worth it. 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment!

  5. Thanks so much, Kristi! I totally agree with you on the forgiveness thing. It really does help to let go and forgive, even when you’re legitimately upset. The energy you carry around when you’re sad or angry is so toxic. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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