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!
Related posts ~ I organized my world around Trauma and Abuse