How to Identify Whether You Have Adopted a Victim Mentality and How to Stop Being the Victim

When something bad happens to you do you always think that it is someone else’s fault? Do you feel like no matter what you do you have no control over what is happening to you? Do you usually blame others or your bad fortune for every negative thing that happens?

From time to time we may all act like drama queens, feeling like the whole world is against us, seeking for attention and sympathy. However, there are some people that seem to adopt this kind of behavior and mentality permanently.

I recently found out that there is a term to describe this kind of mentality which is called the “Victim mentality”.

“Victim Mentality. Some choose to believe that there is nothing they can do to solve their problems, even when they in fact could. Victims seek to blame others for their problems or blame outside circumstances.”

Mark Manson

What is the Victim Mentality?

Woman almost crying while making negative thoughts
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This term is not officially accepted as a medical term and actually most health professionals even avoid the use of it due to the stigma surrounding it. However, there are specific beliefs that people with victim mentality share and all of them are related to negative thinking:

1.       Lots of bad things happened to you in the past and lots of bad things will also happen to you in the future.

2.       Your bad fortune is a result of other people’s actions.

3.       Trying to change your fortune is worthless since nothing will finally change.

Negativity is so much easier to people with a victim mentality than trying to actually take action to save themselves.

Experts claim that the root of this mindset is in many cases an old trauma experienced at the hands of others. People who have experienced something similar are instinctively taught that they are helpless and unable to change something through their actions.

They tend to feel vulnerable and afraid. They don’t take on responsibility, instead, they blame others and refuse to take action while they prefer making excuses.

“I have no physical symptoms, but psychologically there’s this burden. I’ve got to get rid of it somehow. Of course, when I first went back to work I was scared the same thing might happen again. It takes positive thinking to overcome fear, otherwise you’ll carry around this victim mentality forever.”

Haruki Murakami

Benefits of Adopting a Victim Mentality

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It seems that some people who get by as “victims” are not willing to do anything in order to change even if they realize that other people around them are getting tired or annoyed by their constantly negative behavior. This happens because it seems that there are some benefits when somebody adopts the role of the “victim”.

1.       You are not accountable for your life: You take no responsibility for what happens in your life. Your life is the result of others’ people choices and actions and there is nothing you can do about it.

2.       Secondary benefits: “Victims” receive attention and sympathy from other people. In some cases they may also receive medication or funds. People who receive these benefits may not even realize it and keep feeling truly distressed.

3.       Satisfaction of unconscious needs: When you have a victim mentality you are in unconscious need of other peoples’ help, while you also seek for their validation. You play the “poor me” card which results in help and sympathy from others.

4.        No risks: Everything is other people’s fault so there is no need to actually take risks and be vulnerable.

How to Identify Whether You Have Adopted a Victim Mentality

As stated above it is absolutely normal to feel dissatisfied from your life from time to time and to seek other people’s attention and help. However, this is totally different from having adopted a victim mentality.

This is a list of signs that indicate that you might have adopted a victim mentality:

·         You believe that your life is against you

·         Your life is this way due to other people’s choices and actions

·         You cannot deal with the problems of your life and feel that you have no power against them

·         You have adopted a negative attitude and feel like your life is stuck while you can do nothing to change that.

·         You somehow even feel relieved and pleased when you feel bad and sorry about yourself

·         When somebody says an opinion about your behavior, even if it is an honest feedback you feel like you are under attack.

·         The people you attract are those with similar beliefs and attitudes towards life. They are those who complain about their lives and blame others.

·         It is hard for you to examine your life, make decisions and changes.

“I was a redhead and a middle child; both can make you feel excluded. It’s like fighting to be included, in the swim of things. After a while you start to develop a bit of a victim mentality, which isn’t great for a happy life.”

Shirley Manson

What Can You Do to Stop Being The Victim?

A woman is thinking her next chess move
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What experts say on the issue is that the victim mentality is not something you are born with but instead it is a learned behavior. People learn to adopt a victim mentality through their social life and family. It could also most commonly be a result of a trauma.

There are some steps that could be followed in order to overcome the adoption of the victim mentality.

1.       Learn to be responsible: Take responsibility for your choices and actions. Of course you can never control others but your reaction to their choices and actions is still your choice. You are the person responsible for your life and her potential and nobody else.

2.       Practice compassion and self-care: The victim mentality is in many cases adopted subconsciously after a trauma in order to cope with it. Be compassionate with yourself and practice self-care and self-love while trying to recover. Use journalism to better understand your feelings.

3.       Say No: Learn to prioritize yourself and your needs. When you feel like you don’t want to do something it is totally ok to say no even if others feel like you’re letting them down.

4.       Learn more about the victim mentality: If you identified the signs pointed above across different areas of your life, you might consider learning more about it and how it affects your life. This could be done through reading articles or books or you may even consider seeking therapy. Educating yourself about the victim mentality will help you recover and prevent you from returning to the old way of thinking.

“Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”

Bruce Lee

Have you identified any of the signs on yourself?

Have you met others with victim mentality?

References – Resources

Further information about the victim mentality could be found at the following links:

1.    https://www.healthline.com/health/victim-mentality

2.    https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-victim-mentality-5120615

3.   https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-a-victim-mentality

4.   https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/managing-victim-mentality.htm

54 thoughts on “How to Identify Whether You Have Adopted a Victim Mentality and How to Stop Being the Victim

  1. I’ve found that if saying no is too difficult, to be ready with, ‘i’ll need to think about it,’ helps. It gives a person time to regroup and say no when asked the second time. Thanks for the tips!

  2. What a fantastic post! We’ve all been there; being negative and blaming others for most of our misfortunes. Your post reminds us to stop being a victim and take control. 😀

  3. I learnt to recognize the victim mentality early on due to the people around me and have been clear about my boundaries and responsibilities due to that. On some days, I still find myself taking on the thought process because it is oh so easy to say that I’m not able to enjoy life due to work stress, but I ~do~ have time to myself which I should use. Thankfully, I manage to recognize and get out of it soon.

    • I think we have all more or less felt this way some time in our lives. It is our decision to make to feel better. Thank you so much for reading and taking time to comment 🙂

  4. I really enjoyed this post. It is very easy to feel that everyone is out to get you sometimes with how crazy the world is, so it’s important to remember your own skills and ability to succeed in the world.

  5. Victim Mentality is such an interesting concept. I have heard about it but was not sure exactly what it entails. You did a great job explaining the term. I know have the knowledge to better identify Victim mentality.

    • Yes Francic, reading more about the issue in order to write this post helped me identify this mentality adopted by lots of people around me. I am happy you found it interesting. Thank you for commenting!

  6. My husband occasionally slips into this mentality if a number of things are happening and he is struggling to cope. I tend to dig my heels in and always hold onto the fact that there is always something that can be done. This also depends on how much else I’ve been dealing with so having a victim mentality is certainly something all of us can find ourselves falling into. Thanks for sharing this — it was an eye-opener!

    • It is really easy for all of us to slip into the victim mentality from time to time and sometimes it should be ok if we do. But if we keep doing it again and again then it is a problem. Thank you for reading it Molly and I am glad you found it eye-opener 🙂

  7. Hmmmm, I’m not sure where I fall in this regards. I e the one had almost everything that happens to me, good or bad, is due to an indifferent world, rather than specific people each time. However, my current health issues are a result of my poor life choices in me teens and late twenties, but my poor life choices are a direct result of relentless racist abuse and emotional neglect at home that made me suicidal by the time I was 8. Do I have a victim mentality or am I just a nihilist?

    • What you describe is not a victim mentality and I don’t think you are one of those people. You are aware of the issues / problems you have and you also know why they are there. To admit and identify a problem is the first big step towards the solution. I am not an expert on the issue but even if you think of yourself as a nihilist I don’t think of you like that. Even if terrible things happened to you, you are here fighting and creating each day!

  8. Great post & really great tips to do away with the victim mentality.
    I am in fact happy after reading your post that I have not been a person with victim mentality.
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Great post! Thank you for sharing. I work in healthcare and we work as a team, and it comes with drama. I see how I blame others at work for what is going on instead of taking responsibility. I’m not that bad, but this post helps me see that I can take on a victim mentality a little bit. Thank you!

  10. I loved this Eri! I think victim mentality is something we have all experienced. It can be so easy to put ourselves in the place of victims and feel like everyone is out to get us. And it is easy to blame everyone for the mistakes we make lol but it is very important to take responsibility for our actions. I’m not gonna lie I blame other people for my mistakes a lot of time. I definitely have to start taking responsibility for my actions more! x

    • You are right Ruth we all do it from time to time. I think it is human nature. The problem starts when it becomes a habit. I am glad you liked it! Thank you for commenting ❤️

  11. This is such an interesting topic. Its easy to see how people can fall into that trap, especially if they have suffered in the past. I definitely think self care is so important and one form of doing that would be counselling to help process things in your mind.

    • Counseling when somebody adopts the victim mentality I think is a must Kelly. However, when in early stages I think it could be dealt by each one individually. Glad you found it interesting. Thank you for commenting Kelly 😊

  12. This is such an interesting post, it has definitely given me a lot to think about, especially how easy it can be to fall into the trap! I definitely feel like practicing self care and compassion is so important!

    • Glad you found it interesting Amie! It is really easy to fall in the trap and we all do it from time to time. Self care and compassion are of major importance. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  13. Love that you list some ‘benefits’ to the victim mentality, as I think it is an easy mentality to fall into; a mentality with appeal. Stepping out of the victim mentality into the role of responsibility, saying no, and practicing self-care CAN be a big step, but it is worth it. Love that you share some steps toward making that happen. 🙂

  14. This post just describes me as a teenager and in my early 20s! I must have been a joy to hang out with lol! You’re right though, it is definitely a learned behaviour 🙂 You just have to look after your mental health and learn to say no.

  15. This is really interesting! I’m sure we all do a bit of ‘why me’ every now and again but I can see how it could develop into more of a victim mentality. It must be quite difficult for those to overcome. Oh and I love that Bruce Lee quote!

  16. Brilliant and informative blog post. I’ve seen this before but didn’t know what it was called. I now understand why someone would take this role on and how easy it is to do so.
    Thank you for sharing this.

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