Do you at times fall into a victim mindset? And how do you even know if you have a victim mindset?
Well, you are not born with it. The important thing to understand is that it is a learned behaviour, which is why it is so important for us to understand it before it becomes part of our identity. The good news is that it can be fixed.
Have you ever heard yourself saying, “It wasn’t my fault” whether consciously or unconsciously blaming others for feeling the way you are feeling? It’s okay. We’ve all done it. The thing is to catch ourselves before we spiral into catastrophising and blowing things out of proportion because that can lead us down a rabbit hole of no return… leaving us with such thoughts like ‘everyone is out to get me’ or ‘they are targeting me’ or ‘what did I do to deserve this’.
So what’s the first hint you may be experiencing a victim mindset? Whenever you catch yourself reliving your old painful narratives and refuse to see a different perspective on your story. Or if you feel like you have no control in life—it all happens to you, and you find yourself complaining most of the time that things are not right. Being pessimistic, gloomy, or cynical in style—then that is a sure sign that the victim mindset has kicked in. A thing to remember here is that you are not the behaviour.
A victim mindset takes things personally…
Yes. You are not the behaviour. It’s only what you are ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ about what is taking place. We are 100%, not 80% but 100% of the time projecting our self-doubts, insecurities, and fears onto other people. So, the next time the victim mindset sneaks in just ask yourself “for what purpose is this mindset?” and “how is this mindset serving me right now?”
There is always a reason why this mindset is showing up. Believe it or not, there are benefits to having a victim mindset. If playing the ‘poor me’ card has worked for you because people felt sorry for you and that is how you received connection, attention, and love—then you can see why the ego would not want to let go of such attention.
Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of having a victim mindset. Not having to be in the driver’s seat because that would mean that you must be accountable for your life and be responsible for your actions, can be quite frightening to a victim mindset because that would be admitting that life doesn’t happen to you—but you actually have some say in it.
On that note, before we go any further … by not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them. Richard Bach, an American writer puts it nicely by saying “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.”
Fishing for compliments…
Some individuals are driven by external validation and that is a great way to pacify the ego who is always seeking attention and wants to be in the spotlight. Let’s face it, our ego is needy and will go out of its way to have a say—it thrives on attention, however, constantly seeking external validation can be a trap.
One of my astrology teachers once said, “seeking external validation is like the sun asking the moon’s permission to shine.” She further went on by explaining that we all must stop seeking internal peace, love, and unity through external validation.
Far too often, individuals focus on receiving validation from family, friends, peers, or anyone that they would consider an authority figure. We all love a little compliment here and there, although bashful at times and resisting the compliment, it still feeds the ego and gives a boost to the ego. But the thing is this, how often do you do it?
When we become dependent on other people’s opinions, approval, and emotional state of being then we must be asking ourselves “for what purpose?” The answer could be as simple as a lack of self-esteem, self-confidence, or self-worth.
When we become dependent on others that is a psychological state in which we have suppressed our own ‘self’ that is the reason we lack all the ‘self’ words because we have put other people’s feelings before our own feelings. Another amazing author Charles Horton Cooley said “I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am.” I think that pretty much sums it up.
Stop validating your victim mindset…
Why do you think we seek validation? We all do it—some more than others. What is the underlying driver? Is it to prove ourselves, right? Is it for recognition? Or is it a way of feeling accepted? Regardless of the reason—it makes us feel good… but for how long?
When we seek external of ourselves it is very short-lived. No doubt it might give us a dopamine boost just like any good sugar fix, but we all know too well the downside of a sugar fix. The high loses momentum super-fast. We experience a sugar crash—only to crave it more because it is addictive. Well, ‘validation’ behaves in the same way. It makes us feel good for a short time, only to crave it more and this is where it can become toxic to the mind just like too much sugar can impact our cognitive and brain chemistry.
The moment you catch yourself reaching out for that cookie jar—the ‘validation’. Accept your feelings without judgement and become curious about what is driving that behaviour. And instead of seeking for external validation, turn your focus within and start practicing self-validation. The more you do it—the more confident you will become and the more you are empowering your ‘self’—as a result, you will start increasing your self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. Of course, any other ‘self’ words you can think of.
The victim mindset dilutes human potential…
Now that we have a little more understanding of the victim mindset which is the belief that life just happens to you—that something external of you is ‘doing it to you’. That happiness and satisfaction in life are determined by something or someone external of you. When you find yourself complaining, blaming, or shaming others you know that is not you. It’s the victim mindset.
Once you can see the victim mindset, it becomes hard not to see it. The important thing is not to ‘judge’ it but to understand it plays a part and it has a purpose. As you connect with the purpose, which may take a little while because it has become an unconscious behaviour. You can then engage with it and rather than push aside the emotions that are bubbling up for you. Accept them with open arms. Allow yourself to experience the emotions without judgement—that is key!
The one recommendation when doing this kind of deep work is to journal. Invest time on yourself and allow yourself to experience what is coming up for you with an open heart. Collect all the beliefs that arise in the moment because these beliefs have evolved over time and are perpetuated by society creating separation from the ‘self’ and what you are doing is integrating with the ‘self’ which takes courage. And maybe a little resistance because the ego wants to keep you in a state of not truly feeling your emotions filling your mind with narratives that are just getting in your way.
Two key steps. The first is awareness—notice when your brain wants to go to the victim mindset. And the other is responsibility—notice who you are giving your power away to. Is it your partner, your work, your children, and anything external of you? I will leave you with a question to ponder over. In what area of your life are you avoiding, resisting, or reacting to—instead of feeling?
To find out if you have a victim mindset, take this short quiz.
Or listen to this podcast