Years ago I had heard the term “victim mentality“ and I was curious as to what it meant. Imagine my surprise when I looked it up only to discover that this was me! Yikes! 😳
I certainly didn’t want to think of myself as a victim of anything, and so I set off in search of a way to change this dynamic within myself. I found out that the opposite of being a victim was being an empowered person, and that becoming empowered would require new choices from me.
I now consider myself a work in progress, continually moving toward greater personal empowerment (better choices). I take time every day to reflect on the choices I’ve made and what outcomes those choices have created in my life. If my choices leave me with a good feeling, I know that I have made an empowered choice. If my choices leave me with a crummy feeling I know I have fallen back into the victim mentality.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with the term “victim mentality” here is an explanation I like from Wikipedia.
What is it?
A victim mentality is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to unconsciously see themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and then reacts in a way that confirms their perceived helplessness or powerlessness. In essence, being a victim is a way of: avoiding responsibility and criticism for one’s actions, circumstances and results in life, receiving attention and compassion, and evading one’s own feelings of genuine anger. It leads to people constantly being guided by negative emotions like fear, sadness and anger.
No one really consciously chooses to be a victim. It is more a way we fall into, and we fall into it because (unconsciously), we lack a more effective strategy to deal with life. Being a victim provides a way of avoiding change, staying safe in one’s comfort zone, numbing oneself, not dealing with painful feelings, finding company, getting attention and sympathy, and avoiding being responsible for something in one’s life, for example, blaming others or complaining.
If you recognize yourself in this description and would like to change that pattern, I recommend a hefty dose of compassion and gentleness toward yourself. What might that look like? Here are just a few ideas:
A thought that says, “now that I recognize this, I’d like to change it“
Choosing to do something enjoyable
Asking yourself what kinds of things are important to YOU
Choosing not to criticize or judge yourself
Setting an intention to discover new ways to empower yourself
Taking the time to figure out what makes you happy
So how will you choose? Without judgment, you can continue with habitual choices that bring negativity or emotional pain, or you can experiment with a new choice that might offer you different information. You can’t get it wrong, and you can always choose again!
With love, Jackie