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

By Angela Atkinson

We have previously identified the victim mentality and discussed the reasons that some people choose to embrace it. We also briefly touched on the negative side effects of playing the victim.

Being a victim undermines your ability to make any change in your circumstances–it paralyzes you and makes you unable to take action on your own behalf.

When you feel powerless, you might feel like the universe is “out to get you,” and that there’s just nothing you can do to stop it. You might even call yourself a “survivor.”

But I’m here to tell you that “surviving” isn’t living, and living is pretty amazing if you give it a shot.

When you can feel powerful and in control of your own live, you can create personal change that can help you to live the life you really want.

So, how do you overcome the victim mentality?

1. Change your mind.

I know, you’ve heard it all before. But really, the very first step you must take to overcome the victim mentality is to make a choice. You have to simply DECIDE that you are not a victim.

Choose to be in control of your life. Choose to take responsibility for every single element of your life–every person, situation, thing and circumstance, even though it might feel uncomfortable at first.

2. Don’t play the blame game.

One of the reasons folks with the victim mentality often have low self-esteem is that they don’t feel like they’re responsible for their own lives. They blame other people or situations, and this nurtures that victim mentality.

This can negatively affect their relationships, their goals and ambitions and ultimately, the quality of life.

Here’s the solution: start acknowledging that you create your reality. Start small, if you need to, by just taking responsibility for every single thing that happens tomorrow.

You’ll notice an immediate difference–rather than relying on someone else to validate you, you can approve of yourself. Rather than requiring the approval of your spouse or parents or friends, you can start building your own strength from within–and before you know it, you will be able to stay positive, no matter what happens around you.

3. Be thankful for what you have.

Oprah Winfrey once said that you’ll never have what you want until you want what you have. I think that she meant that being grateful for the good things in your life will help to bring more good things to you.

So, the next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself, take a look around and find something to be grateful for–and then another thing, and another, and so on.

And once your perspective is brighter (and it will be, if you really do this little exercise), ask yourself what good could come of the situation you’re dealing with.

So, instead of asking yourself “why me?”, ask yourself what opportunity could come from the situation.

4. Let go of the past.

When someone hurts you, it’s human nature to feel like a victim. But the longer you hold on to resentments and anger, the longer you are still drawing more of that into your life.

As Catherine Ponder said, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

So, you want to be free of the past? Forgive the people who hurt you, and forgive yourself for holding on to it for so long. Release the people, the situations and the things that have caused you pain, and you’ll find yourself freer and lighter, and moving in the right direction.

Please note that this does not mean you should live in abusive situations or try to change abusive people. You can only change yourself.

5. Don’t beat yourself up.

It can be tough to change your way of thinking, so if you find yourself slipping, don’t feel like a failure. You’re human, after all.

But when you do notice a little slip, make a concerted effort to change your mind.

Affirm to yourself that you are in control, and give yourself a little hug. It might help to come up with a particular mantra that you repeat to yourself anytime you feel victim-like–something like “I am strong and powerful and I decide what happens in my life,” maybe.

So how about you? What are your best tips for overcoming a victim mentality? Tell me in the comments!



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10 Responses to Take Control of Your Life: 5 Ways to Lose the Victim Mentality

  1. I’d like to add:

    Get help! If you grew up surrounded by this mindset and have formed relationships that keep you in victimhood, get help.

    Read ‘The Verbally Abusive Relationship’ to understand how perverse abuse is in our society.

    Take a look at yourself, decide who you want to be and set a path to become that person.

    Cut ties with all abusive people in your life or reduce your contact. Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up.

    Find something to love about yourself and then build on that quality.

    Volunteer. There is nothing more powerful than helping others in need.

    • Darris, thank you for sharing these suggestions! I think they’re very helpful and will be useful to the readers. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂

      • Thanks Angela! I know how awful it felt to me stuck in ‘victimhood”. If what I said helps one person I’m thrilled!

        I’m loving your blog!! Addressing this victim mentality issue is SOOOO needed in our society right now! It takes courage to tackle this issue.

        THANK YOU!

  2. This is a great post, I have really been quite down for a while because of some bad decisions that I made over the last few years and I have really been dwelling on it. I think its so hard to move on when the past keps hauting you!

  3. I … am so glad I found this. I used to have this mentality, and some of my friends think they’re victims sometimes. The one thing that reaffirms me is bad memories. That is, even if the memories hurt a lot right now, I value them so highly, because I know that if I keep them that one day I’ll be strong enough for them not to hurt anymore. That always makes me feel content, but I guess that’s sorta weird.

    I’ll pass this entry to my friends, then ….

    • to Alex and Loli . . . Curious what Angela would say about your comments . . .

      I don’t think it’s “weird” to “reaffirm” bad memories I just question how truly empowering it is for you. Recognizing that the past is the past and it cannot be changed EXCEPT how how you view your experience. Example: when I was 19 I was a passenger on a motorcycle that was broadsided. The impact site was my left leg and ankle. I suffered a compound fracture and spent a month in the hospital and another several months in a cast not knowing if I would lose my leg or not. Instead of dwelling on my disfigurement and the loss of 2″, I chose to appreciate how lucky I was to have survived, to still have a leg, to have sooo many loving friends and family who supported and took care of me, etc. Nearly 40 years later I reflect on that time and my leg rarely. I am an avid hiker (although I was told I spend life in a wheel chair) and gave birth to a son (even though I was advised against carrying a pregnancy). I choose to focus on the possibilities not on the past. It’s a simple shift but sometimes seems so far from our grasp.

      Hey, I’m not sayin’ I don’t have pity parties from time to time . . . I am saying that it’s not how I regularly do life. If I got sucked into what I couldn’t do, how restricted I’d be, how disfigured my leg was, I would have held myself back in so many ways in life I cannot tell you. Looking at possibilities instead of past hurts has been profound.

      Given this, if there are things you just can’t let go of I would suggest therapy to work through the muck. Choose a therapist who is committed to you moving beyond the past not mire in it. Also, I would highly suggest Landmark Ed. ‘Forum’ and Anthony Robbins programs both are phenomenal for anyone totally committed to change and a better life. All the best to you!

      • I agree with Darris on this one. I do understand how important your memories can be, but I also know that living in the past is no way to live. We all have our moments when we fall into pity parties, as Darris said, but if we want to be happy and successful, we must learn to put that aside and move forward. Take a little bit of time to dwell, if you must, but as Darris said, focus on the good things in your life and try to let go of the rest. So, for example, when it comes to your past–think only of the positive things that came out of it rather than focusing on the parts that caused you pain. Hugs and love to both of you, and to Darris too. <3 Thank you for being here, and I wish you the very best as you move forward.

        • Can I add one more . . . I like what Pema Chodron says in ‘When Things Fall Apart’;

          “Just as the Buddha taught, it’s important to see suffering as suffering. We are not talking about ignoring or keeping quiet. When we don’t buy into our opinions and solidity the sense of enemy, we will accomplish something. If we don’t get swept away by our outrage, then we will see the cause of the suffering more clearly. That is how the cessation of suffering evolves.”

          Failure and victimhood is more in our minds than anything. Change our minds, change our attitude and our experience.

          Thanks for helping us on this path Angela . . . your name is well suited, you are an angel!

  4. This is a great article with plenty of good advice. I didn’t realize I carried a victim mentality as well until someone pointed it out. The truth is playing the victim mentality does not allow us to move on because you do not take ownership for your own actions. I always played the blame game in my relationships and one day I thought about what I could have done to prevent future issues especially since I think a bit more clearly than my partner. It made me feel good to forgive myself for what I did and apologizing to him for blaming him for everything. My motto for the year has been blame yourself when something goes wrong take ownership for what you can do differently.

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