What is The Victim Mentality/Mindset

The “Victim Mentality,” according to Harley Therapy Counselling of London, England, is a mindset whereby people blame the challenges and disappointments in life on other people. In some situations, there may be blame to place but in the victim mentality there is usually little grounds to accuse others. 

Things that are beyond a person’s control such as crimes committed against them can rightly place the person as a victim. However, if a person has control in the situation and could easily have changed the outcome themselves and they still seek to blame others then this is the essence of the Victim Mentality.

11 Signs of The Victim Mindset

The aspects of a victim mindset are very clear and easy to spot in others, even if people do not realize this of themselves.

1| Sense of Powerlessness

This is the case even in situations that could easily be fixed, those with a victim mentality feel and act as though they cannot fix the situation. They fail to become in touch with or to cultivate their own personal power, which paralyzes their ability to excel in and take control of their lives. Victims truly believe their lives are completely out of their own control. 

2| Exaggerating The Severity of Situations

Even minor setbacks and disappointments can become major injustices in the mind of a victim. After the first disappointment a person with the victim mentality will often assume it is not worth trying further.

3| Avoiding Responsibility/Blaming

According to marriage therapists, a failure to take responsibility or accountability is a clear sign of the victim mentality. Choosing to divert blame to others, life, the word, constantly using excuses, or reacting to every situation by claiming “It wasn’t my fault” are clear signs of avoiding responsibility.

4| Negative Self Image

Negative thoughts and pessimistic assumptions with regards to many aspects of a person’s life indicate that they may have the victim mindset. A belief that only bad things happen, that they can’t do anything right or they deserve to fail is a key indication of this mentality.

5| Lack of Self Confidence

A general sense of not being capable in life is a big indication of a victim’s attitude. Having a low opinion of their own intelligence, skills or talents gives people an excuse for not finding success. Due to a lack of confidence in themselves failure is assumed as the only outcome for anything they want to attempt.

6| Assuming People Are Trying To Stop You

This ties together the sense of powerlessness and the refusal to accept responsibility. Those with the victim mentality may erroneously assume that certain people are trying to prevent their success. They feel attacked and will often blame other people for undermining or cheating them.

7| Feeling Sorry For Yourself

Victims tend to feel sorry for themselves, a lot of the time. This self-pity becomes a paralyzing situation that prevents a proactive approach and action.

The minute I begin to feel sorry for myself, I have already given up the fight.

~ Anonymous

8| Feeling Singled Out

A person may be one of 8 people who was passed over for a promotion but they will only acknowledge that they have a right to be upset. The victim mindset will make people believe that the world is against them and that everyone else gets what they want.

9| Harboring Negative Emotions

Those with the victim mentality will tend to hold on to grudges and anger much longer than most people. They may obsess over a situation where they felt wronged and constantly refer to it. This refusal to forgive or forget something that upset them even if objectively minor tends to hamper their progression in life.

10| Catastrophic Thinking

Every event in a victim’s life is considered a major catastrophe and victims tend to dramatize everything. They continually exaggerate problems and situations even when those are small or insignificant. 

11| View The World As A Bad Place

Victims see the world as a bad place that is out to get them and this is followed by the feeling that they have no control to change anything in their lives. A lack of acceptance or recognition of their own roles, decisions, choices, and actions stops them from making changes in their lives. 

I am a survivor and not a victim. Life isn’t perfect. When you get a knock, you have to get up, dust yourself down and get on with it.

~ Patsy Kensit

12 Pitfalls of Being A Victim in Life

The victim mentality is not a healthy way of life because the emotions and attitudes that lay at its heart can damage people both mentally and physically. The sufferer is not the only one that the mindset affects as it can also ruin interpersonal relationships meaning there are many pitfalls to this way of thinking. 

1| Getting Into Bad Relationships

The lack of self-confidence and tendency to relinquish control in life can lead to a person entering into a bad relationship. A controlling partner may take advantage of the passive nature of the victim mentality and be abusive. The already low self-esteem will only deepen and the mindset will not allow the person to walk out because they feel they deserve this.

2| Ruining Good Relationships

Marriage.com suggests that certain traits of the victim mentality can be very ruinous to a relationship. When victims use their need for sympathy to get their way in a relationship this can breed resentment. A failure to accept responsibility and try to blame others can decrease the trust in a relationship. The pessimistic attitude often exhibited by the victim mentality can often be demoralizing.

3| Personal Mental Health

The negative feelings of anger, frustration and resentment that become the norm in the victim mentality can be harmful psychologically. Depression and feelings of inadequacy can creep in, severely impacting quality of life.

4| Tendency Towards Substance Abuse

According to the Waypoint Recovery Center the victim mindset is common amongst substance abusers. When people are upset and depressed they constantly seek ways to feel better and this can lead to alcohol and drug usage (ref.).

5| Failure At Work

The victim mentality often means that due to an attitude of expecting to fail people tend to avoid trying. This can lead to a lack of motivation to succeed which could mean not trying for major jobs due a lack of confidence. Victims tend to enter low level jobs but will not try to excel. Those with a victim mentality will often not take responsibility for their actions and can often become problem employees.

6| Stunts Personal Growth and Development

If you are a victim then you never look to your part in things or how you can improve yourself to do better in life. This stunts personal growth and development as the opportunities to learn and grow are never taken advantage of.

7| Lack of Motivation

Since victims always blame the world, others, and circumstances for anything that happens in life, they lack the motivation to succeed. Motivation always comes from within, it is self-driven and is rooted in feelings of and belief in the self to have the power and control over one’s destiny.

8| Victims Don’t Learn From Life’s Mistakes

Because victims cannot own anything, they are doomed to never learn from their own mistakes and failures. This learning is key in being your greatest self, achieving goals and living your best life.

9| Victims Don’t Take Action

A significant aspect of the victim mentality is the entitlement mindset. The entitlement mindset basically means that “the world owes me.” This belief obviously leads to a lack of goal setting and any required proactive action to achieve anything in life. While the victim waits around for the world to give, they don’t reach out and take, which always leaves them with nothing. 

10| Never Take Risks or Face Change

Victims and victors also differ in the way they handle risks and change. Victims loathe change and are averse to taking any sort of risk. They’d rather remain holed up in their nest of negative thoughts. Victors love risk. They will approach any challenge, or change, head on, determined to come out on the other side as a better, stronger, and more victorious person.

11| Success Eludes Victims

As victims continue to blame, pout, avoid, deny, and remain paralyzed in inaction, success on any level becomes virtually impossible. 

12| Victims Never Get To Choose Their Lives

With the mindset of victims and all that it involves, such as blaming, not taking responsibility and  stunted personal development, among others, victims do not choose their own lives, they continue to become the perceived victims of circumstances, over which they believe they have no control. 

“You are not a victim. No matter what you have been through, you’re still here. You may have been challenged, hurt, betrayed, beaten, and discouraged, but nothing has defeated you. You are still here! You have been delayed but not denied. You are not a victim, you are a victor. You have a history of victory.” 

~ Steve Maraboli

Why Blamers Will Always Be Victims of Life

One of the biggest indicators of the Victim mentality is a lack of personal accountability and the tendency to place blame on other people or situations. This can be harmful in all aspects of life be it professional, personal or relationship based. A victim cannot escape this mindset without first recognizing their own level of blame and stopping their tendency to deflect on others.

The late John F. Kennedy once said, “Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” This is the perfect way to view the blame game played by those with the victim mentality.

Those with this mindset will blame other people and situations for their own failures even if the blame should be placed squarely on themselves. Marriage therapist Vicki Botnik suggests that placing blame on others is a sign of a lack of responsibility. 

Within a personal relationship this failure to accept personal responsibility and blaming a spouse or partner instead can lead to growing resentment. This is true in the workplace when an employee will not accept responsibility for mistakes and will blame other people or situations for their own failings. 

Refusing to accept responsibility to fix or change things that are not working shows a lack of motivation to improve beyond the victim mentality.

8 Steps To Overcome The Victim Mentality

“It would be easy to become a victim of our circumstances and continue feeling sad, scared or angry; or instead, we could choose to deal with injustice humanely and break the chains of negative thoughts and energies, and not let ourselves sink into it.” 

~ Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary

Understanding the existence of the victim mindset in oneself is the first step to making a change toward a more positive future. Success can only come with work and taking chances but both of these things are lacking in the victim mentality. A person cannot become a victor until they release themselves from the idea that they can’t succeed or are not being allowed to succeed in life.

1| Understand The Comforts of Victim Mentality

The reason it is hard to break a victim mindset is because it has its comforts. Playing the victim can get people’s attention and have them validate the victim and their woes. Acting as a victim is an excuse to not try new things and not to have to take on scary responsibilities. It also allows people to feel they have a moral high ground especially when they tend to blame. Understanding that this is what the mentality affords to people it is easy to see how empty those benefits truly are.

2| Be Okay With Not Being A Victim Anymore

It will be scary letting go of the comfort of not having to try and no longer having excuses. The change will be difficult but the rewards are worth the effort.

3| Start Taking Responsibility

The act of choosing to abandon the victim mentality is the first step in regaining control over a person’s life. They next need to take on responsibility for their own actions and decisions in their personal life. This includes caring for themselves, working on personal relationships and trying harder in their careers.

4| Consider Those Worse Off

In the depths of victim mentality, the only person that matters is often one’s self. It is important then to actively start thinking about those who are struggling more than you. WebMD suggests that thinking about others who have been victimized can help place things in perspective. There is always someone going through a worse time so becoming active in charity work even just making a donation will teach an understanding that your own life isn’t that bad. 

5| Forgive

Mahatma Gandhi once said “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” This quote is so true because it takes strength to forgive someone for hurting you even if, as can be the case in the victim mentality, that person didn’t do anything wrong. When someone cannot forgive, they hold onto the anger and resentment attached to the situation as well as the feeling of being victimized.

6| Set Achievable Goals

Rebuilding confidence is vital in breaking out of the victim mentality and the best way to do this is to set goals which can be reached. Success boasts confidence even if it is small and it can be more intoxicating than the coddled feeling of playing the victim. Small exercise goals or aiming to get some extra recognition at work are a great place to start. The most important thing is to put in the work to reach the goal.

7| Take Back Control

As confidence grows take back more and more control of your life. There is no longer room for excuses if something doesn’t work and you are to blame, own that. Mistakes allow us to learn and grow so it is important that we use this as experience and move forward.

It is often too easy to let the victim mentality make you shut down and go into a protective state. This achieves nothing but making you feel alone and under constant attack. Ultimately, taking back your power and responsibility for your own life allows you to live that life to the fullest.

8| Get In Touch With Your Personal Power

All of us have inside ourselves a magical super power, and that is our personal power. This power is the ability to choose our mindset, choose our actions, take responsibility for our lives, choices, and decisions and in general is a driving force that can propel us to be our absolute best selves and live our best lives. Get in touch with your personal power, it is the complete opposite of being a victim, it will put you in the driver’s seat of your own life.

9| Get Therapy

For many, the victim mindset is a deeply rooted dysfunctional way of life that can be serious enough to cause ongoing serious problems. A qualified therapist can help to resolve the core issues and help one recover from this negative state of mind and behavior to excel and thrive in all facets of their lives.

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

~ Marcus Aurelius

Personal Power: The Other Side of The Victim Mentality

A strong sense of personal power is in direct conflict with the victim mentality. Those who see themselves as victims in life have usually given up on moving above where they are. Someone who has claimed their personal power is motivated to do better and lead their lives to great heights.

Psychotherapist Amy Morin lists nine ways of maintaining personal power, these include. 

  • Don’t waste energy complaining
  • Accept responsibility for how you feel
  • Establish healthy boundaries
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Know your value
  • Don’t waste time on unproductive thoughts
  • Avoid language that implies you’re a victim
  • Make your self-worth independent of others’ opinions
  • Be willing to stand out from the crowd

A sense of self belief and personal accountability separates the winners in life from the self-created victims. Having the power to control your own future means you will work harder to achieve the important goals

7 Key Characteristics of Victors Life

Those who choose a victor mentality offer themselves the greatest chance for success because they are willing to take risks. Famed American football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” 

This positivity is what the victor mentality is built upon and with this mindset comes certain characteristics.

  1. A victor will not blame others but will first look to their own failing
  2. A victor wants to understand all aspects of a situation
  3. A victor looks for, identifies, and accepts his/her role in any situation 
  4. A victor craves success
  5. A victor concentrates on building their own confidence
  6. A victor will perceive criticism as a learning opportunity
  7. A victor has control of their own life and takes responsibility for their own mistakes
  8. A victor will take a failure and assess what went wrong before planning how to improve

Personal Responsibility: The Main Feature of the Victor Mentality

A victor does not make excuses, they feel no need to blame others for their setbacks in life and they tend not to harbor negative emotions against others. Author J.K. Rowling once said, “There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.” This is an apt statement, taking responsibility in life means there is no longer an excuse to blame others.

The moment someone leaves home and starts paying their own bills they have entered the realm of responsibility. There are some people for whom even this basic level of responsibility is too daunting. 

Victors, however, thrive on the challenge and will seek to take greater responsibilities in life. The victor mentality helps for professional growth as well as personal growth and will often lead to a happier life.

Victims Versus Victors

The differences between the victim and victor mentalities are like night and day, they are exact opposites. Where one features negative emotions and actions the other relies on positivity. A hard work ethic which defines one is countered with a lax, often lazy attitude in the other. The following is a list of these differences.

  • Victors do not make excuses or freely lay blame whereas victims will not take responsibility and often blame other people or situations for their failures.
  • Personal control is important to victors while victims often just allow life to happen to them
  • Victims see criticism as an attack on them while victors view critique as a learning opportunity
  • A victor seeks to succeed while a victim will try to do the minimum for fear of failure
  • Victims lack self-confidence while victors have faith in themselves and their abilities
  • A victim will try to find reasons to give up on something they feel is too hard while a victor will see it through to the end

10 Key Elements of The Winning Mindset

A winning mindset is one of perseverance and intensity creating a drive to succeed against all odds. It is a positive mental attitude which leads to risk taking and a willingness to reach for dreams. There are a number of key elements which define this mindset according to professional business coach Daniel Colombo. (ref.)

1| Goal Oriented

The winning mindset lends itself to clear, precise planning and a drive to achieve goals. This includes an ability to adjust as challenges arise and self-evaluate throughout each step toward a goal. The winning attitude demands a high standard of personal excellence.

2| High Self Confidence

In the book Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie wrote “The moment you doubt you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” It is about the belief and self-confidence required to succeed at what you are attempting. So, key to the winning mindset is self-confidence and those with the victor attitude often have very high self-belief.

3| Honesty

Steve Tobak, the co-founder of Stealth Startup, believes there is no value in just telling people what they want to hear. Trying to please people by sugar coating situations in the long run achieves nothing so often brutal honesty is the best approach. It may be hard to hear but without truth there is no ability to grow. (ref.).

4| Follow Through With Ideas

A person may have countless ideas that could be successful but if they do not do anything with that concept the idea is pointless. A winning attitude revolves around trying. Even if it ends in failure you will have learned something and can improve.

5| Patience

There is a big difference between patience and being lazy. A lazy attitude gets nothing done but a patient attitude sees work continue and allows time for success to grow. Rushing through a project to try and reap immediate rewards can lead to a less successful result. True lasting success can take time and a winner understands this. Athletes work for years before they reach their full potential.

6| Strive to Be the Best

The definition of winning is to be the best so this is why winners do what it takes to succeed above the rest. If something is worth having it’s worth working hard for and if you want to be the best you must work harder than the competition.

7| Solid Self Discipline

Winning takes focus; it requires the ability to create order out of chaos and having control over yourself. When a winner commits to a goal they do so deeply and will not allow ridiculous distractions to throw them off course.

8| Initiative

A winner may be surrounded by a great team who can give wonderful advice and even teach them new things. This is great as it allows for personal growth but a true winner must also be able to work on their own initiative. Take in all the details and facts so that they can be used to make informed decisions. Sometimes gut instinct based on gathered information will lead to the completion of a goal.

9| Learn from Failure

Winning every time is just not possible, there will eventually be losses and failures. The key is how these failures are dealt with. Some may give up and try something else but a winner will assess the loss, learn from it, and try again. Failure leads to growth which leads to eventual success.

10| Never Make Excuses

There will be reasons that something does not turn out as planned but a winner does not deal in excuses. Rather than complain that this or that is to blame a winner will focus on the why of the failure and then move to the how to fix stage. Time spent making excuses is better spent making new choices and moving forward.

I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.

~ Carl Jung

Final Thoughts

Even though it seems a somewhat miserable existence, the victim mentality is still alluring to some people. In many ways it’s easier for those unwilling to take the risks in life that could make their lives better. Simply having excuses for why life isn’t treating them as well as they would like is a comfort. The truth is adopting the victor mentality is hard and it takes work.

A victim can only change their outlook once they realize that the life, they are living is so much less than they could truly achieve. It takes a huge leap to let go of the fears of victimhood and battle the challenges of becoming a victor. A new mindset that failing is okay as long as you learn and grow from it can be the hardest new skill to learn.

Be a victor in life – Start Here!