Identifying Victim Mentality: Why Some People Choose to Be Victims

Written by Angela Atkinson

“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!


  • Angela Atkinson

    Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own. Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves. Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.

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