Understanding Victim Mentality ~ a Key to Freedom

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overcoming victim mentality

What is Victim Mentality? I was going to look it up and post a lovely clinical definition, but I thought it might be more effective to just write about what I have learned about it. The term “Victim Mentality” has such a nasty “feel” to it. It sounds like something awful, something that we don’t want to examine too closely, and we certainly don’t want to actually have it.

For many years I thought that victim mentality was when someone thought that they were hard done by, that they felt sorry for themselves, and that they made excuses for why they couldn’t have a great life because of something that was just too hard for them to accomplish or something too hard to get past. I did not think that I had victim mentality, but I also didn’t know what it was.  I thought a victim was someone that had been victimized, bullied, assaulted or otherwise traumatized, but also I thought a victim was someone who had been or would be looked down on or pitied. I thought someone with victim mentality felt sorry for themselves. I was getting self pity and victim mentality mixed up. I have a very different understanding of what victim mentality really is, today.

It is believed by many that victim mentality is focusing on what you haven’t got, waiting for things to happen instead of making them happen, finding excuses, blaming others, and other things related to those concepts.  For anyone struggling with depression, overcoming abuse, trauma and the resulting low self esteem from all that, this list doesn’t help at all. This list won’t get anyone closer to any solutions. It tells me what NOT to be without addressing the issue of HOW I got there in the first place. I spent years before I really faced my issues, just trying to BE positive; focusing on never having, doing or feeling any of the things on that list. One of the most dangerous results from trying to change my attitude before I knew where it came from was that I learned to take the blame; I learned to be accountable for the mistreatment that I was dealt. I adopted the “positive attitude” that I was responsible for my results, and therefore if I got treated like crap, this backed up the idea I already had; that it was my own fault!

That kind of accountability led me to believe what the abusers taught me in the first place; that I deserved it!

 I ended up in a serious and chronic series of depressions.

I realized in my process of emerging from broken into fullness and wholeness, that I had victim mentality all over the place in my life but not exactly the kind of victim mentality that is commonly understood.  

My understanding of victim mentality today is;

~believing that If someone doesn’t seem to like me, it is my fault. (and that it is up to me to make them like me)

~When someone says something nasty to me, I think that I have done something to offend them and that I did something to deserve the offensive treatment.

~believing that if I try harder, the abuser will love me and stop hurting me emotionally, physically spiritually or sexually. (accepting that being hurt by them is my fault.)

~believing that the success of the relationship with another person is totally up to me. Not realizing that I believe they can have boundaries, but I can’t.

~believing that love is something that I can earn by being who someone else wants me to be, and spending my energy trying to figure out who that is and spinning about just what they want me to do.

~Not considering my own feelings, hopes and dreams or that I can fulfill them; expecting them to be fulfilled by someone else~ and doing all of the above to try and make that happen. 

~and one of the most important points of all… Victim mentality is when I think that I can’t make any changes unless THEY say that I can.

Positive thinking was something that came in really handy and made a positive difference AFTER I sorted out the foundation of the problem. When I understood victim mentality in this new way, I was able to sort things out from a different perspective which was a big key to overcoming the past.

Keeping in mind that this is not an exercise in negative self talk or in adding shame or guilt to our already sensitive belief systems, and in the spirit of empowering each other, will you consider adding to this list of what victim mentality really is and or what it really isn’t to you?

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time!                                                    

Darlene Ouimet

Related posts ~ I organized my world around Trauma and Abuse

                           Victim Mentality (what happened to Prince Charming?)

                           Avoiding Feelings ~ The root cause

45 response to "Understanding Victim Mentality ~ a Key to Freedom"

  1. By: Christine Posted: 17th September 2013

    I see that most of this blog is from 2010, but I have just been given the term “victim mentality”. I never dreamed it would fit. I have done quite a bit of reading in the last few days. I was raised the “people pleaser”, but never gave it a second thought. I figured that all “nice” people are taken advantage of. I am ready to begin my journey to recovery and have so much work to do, but i want you to know that your understand and definition fit me to a “T”! Everything else ive read seemd a bit vague and not quite right. Thank you for sharing!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th September 2013

      Hi Christine,
      Welcome to Emerging from broken
      There is lots more info about this subject in this site. (this website is very active and there are over 400 articles with discussions right up to the present day.)
      The more you read the more clarity you will find. YAY that you are ready to begin your journey to recovery!
      hugs, Darlene

  2. By: DXSMac Posted: 21st June 2013

    ~believing that love is something that I can earn by being who someone else wants me to be, and spending my energy trying to figure out who that is and spinning about just what they want me to do.

    Oh GAWD, this is my entire life! I tried to tell mom that this is the “pretending” I have done, and all I get is that it’s my fault, not hers.

  3. By: invisible321 Posted: 25th October 2012

    I am a people pleaser because of my victim mentality. Always wanting to be liked so bad by someone that I would do anything for anyone to have someone “like me” … then I would fall into the victim roll once again. It is like I had a sign on my forehead that said abuse me.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th October 2012

      Hi Invisible 321,
      great to see you! I was exactly like that too and when I learned to love me, to take care of me and to see my own value, I didn’t fall into that anymore! That was ‘freedom!’
      Thanks for your comments!
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: S.D. Posted: 20th May 2012

    Just want to say that I love how you defined this. Brilliant.

  5. By: Fi MacLeod exNicholson Posted: 28th November 2010

    Carol, I can so relate to your comment – tears were so forbidden when I was a kid too that I find it very hard to let them fall too. I learned from a tiny age not to cry or show any emotion because that just made them make it worse. If I did cry I was mocked, belittled, openly made fun of. I survived by watching every word, every intonation, every mood, every look, second guessing whether I was going to get a look or find myself flying across the room for nothing at all. I’m slowly beginning to accept my tears and not be ashamed of them. I’m slowly beginning to allow the tears out. I’m slowly beginning to realise that emotions are ok and nothing to be ashamed of. I’m slowly beginning to realise that I’m not as bad as they made out. I’m slowly realising ‘me’ is ok and there is a way through all this.

  6. By: carol Posted: 28th November 2010

    wow this hits my situation squarely in the face at the mo. it is so hard for people to accept responsibility for their actions, but where the reactions started might be the place to start, my head is all over the place at the moment and im not makign much sense at all to myself and all because a certain situation has decided that i am to blame and i am nasty and negative ohh, anyways this just rubs in the way i have always been treated by my birth family and to have a secure place to learn how to behave has now become a place where i am scrutinized and every word watched for tone n content. makes me wana curl up n not move for days, and it is gettin worse as the hubby really doesnt understand what i am going thro n is telliing me to shut up about things cos others really dont wana listen to me anymore, this whole mess makes me feel like crying all the time which is really hard, as tears were so forbidden when i was smll that it still is hard for me to let them fall

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