How To Break Free Of The Victim Mentality
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.
Are You Playing the Victim Card?
We all no doubt go through our fair share of struggles in the form of misfortune, illness, disaster or simply bad luck. Whether these struggles are of our own making or involve other people, makes little difference, because how we deal with these struggles purely depends on how we make sense of them. Interpret them in a helpful way, and your struggles can become incredible opportunities for change and transformation. However, interpret them in an unhelpful way and we can often fall into the self-pity trap where we play our very own victim card riddled with pitiful excuses and self-loathing.
Of course, playing the victim isn’t easy. In fact, it requires a lot of effort and work on your part to play this card successfully.
For starters, when you play the victim card you will typically choose to complain and blame other people or circumstances for your problems. In fact, you may even completely exaggerate your problems altogether. You blow your problems out of proportion just to make yourself feel a little better about the fact that you had absolutely no control over the situation. Your feelings of insecurity just get the better of you and as a result, you wilt away into the realm of self-pity.
In this pitiful state, you just don’t see things very clearly. In fact, you will often assume that other people are out to get you. Everyone has the worst of intentions and you are just the innocent little victim needing rescue; with absolutely no control or power over your situation.
All this, of course, makes you feel rather helpless. In fact, you see your helplessness as an anchor that you can potentially use as a coping mechanism to help you handle fear, pain, discomfort, uncertainty, rejection or any other difficult emotion you are experiencing. However, this is really all-or-nothing because you don’t gain any personal power from playing the victim card; and yet you still nevertheless continue to play this game.
As you continue to play the helpless victim you, of course, gain sympathy from others. Other people empathize with what you’re going through, or maybe they’re just feeling a little sorry for you. But of course how you interpret their feelings is completely in your hands. Whatever gives you power and strength I think is the way to go. But then again, this doesn’t really give you any power or strength, does it?
And so as you continue to play the victim card you consciously make an effort to avoid all confrontations, to avoid taking risks, to avoid making difficult decisions, and to avoid all responsibility for improving your situation or making up for your mistake, failure or the problem you took part in creating. In fact, you don’t want anything to do with “anything” that you are unable to control; and playing the victim card at the very least wins you the sympathy of others. So at least you feel a little better about yourself; all the while thinking that someone might come and save the day and get you out of these doldrums.
Things are however very unlikely to change. They can’t change because you are the one who holds the power to change them. Yes, you are the one who must muster up enough strength to turn this situation around. But unfortunately, you will never break through this glass roof if you continue to indulge in this pitiful state. In fact, nothing will ever change unless you make a conscious decision to change; to develop the resourcefulness and resilience you need to move forward.
However, all is not lost. There is still hope, and that hope comes in the form of a slight perspective shift in the way you think about yourself, your life, other people, and circumstances. And it’s in this slight perspective shift where you will find the answers you are searching for.
Making Perspective Shifts in How You Think
First of all, you must acknowledge the fact that you can choose to perceive things differently. You can choose to see the events and circumstances of your life in a more optimal and helpful way that can help you move forward more effectively. You are in fact a very capable and resourceful individual. The things holding you back come in the form of a series of unhelpful thoughts, limiting beliefs and past experiences that have conditioned habitual responses into your psyche over the course of your life.
All these psychological tendencies are keeping you stuck. They are forcing you to see your life and circumstances in a specific way that is not allowing you to move forward; that is not empowering you to make better choices and decisions in the present moment. And that is of course where your greatest challenge lies: It lies in surmounting these habitual tendencies; in freeing yourself from their grasp.
There is a lot of psychological groundwork that needs to get done to begin optimizing the way you think about your life and circumstances to help you break free from your victim mentality. However, every journey must start with a perspective shift: A slight shift in the way you see yourself and see the world around you. As such, moving forward, it’s important that you acknowledge the following truths:
What I focus on expands in my reality.
What I focus on becomes my reality.
What I focus on attracts more of the same into my reality.
Every situation helps me gain valuable feedback.
Every situation helps me learn and grow from the experience.
Acknowledging these truths will help remind you that you, in fact, hold the power to control where and how you direct your thoughts. Moreover, you hold the power to make the most of every situation you are confronted with, irrelevant of whether you took part in creating it or not. You hold the power to think more optimally about things and therefore have the power to make positive changes moving forward.
Acknowledge Your Pitiful Stories
Acknowledging these truths, of course, may not be easy. It especially won’t be easy if you succumb to the pitiful stories you tell yourself about how helpless you are. These stories you tell yourself become a catalyst that influences the expectations you bring into every situation. And these expectations of course influence how you think and act at any given moment.
Yes, these are the stories that in fact keep you feeling victimized. You must, therefore, learn to let them go and instead focus on telling yourself more empowering stories that can help you move forward in a better way. For instance, ask yourself:
What’s a more empowering story I could tell myself?
How can I put a positive spin on things?
What’s a more helpful way of looking at this situation?
What’s a more helpful way of seeing myself in this situation?
It’s important to understand that when you’re playing the victim card, that it’s the stories you tell yourself that are writing the script for your behavior. Therefore, the moment you begin telling yourself a new set of stories that can help empower you is the moment you will begin making better choices and decisions moving forward.
Stop Indulging in Addictions
Something else that will keep you stuck in victim mentality mode, are all those addictions you indulge in to help you feel better about yourself. These behaviors will, of course, vary from person-to-person but can often come in the form of binge-eating, television addiction, smoking, alcohol, and anything else that you use as a coping mechanism to help you deal with situations that you feel you are unable to control.
You will often indulge in these behaviors because of the fact that they provide you with a semblance of control over your life and circumstances. With control you have hope, and with hope, there shines a light at the end of the tunnel. However, this kind of hope if fleeting because it doesn’t at all help you make the most of the situation you find yourself in. It’s as though you’re retreating instead of advancing forward. And every time you retreat you are at that moment giving away your personal power.
As such, it’s important to acknowledge that indulging in these kinds of addictions won’t fix your problems; it won’t make things any better. In fact, it might even exacerbate your problems even further.
Ignoring something doesn’t mean it will go away. You can’t avoid dealing with some situations. Yes, you can retreat temporarily, but sooner or later these things will come back into your life and you will need to deal with them.
Playing the victim card just won’t work long-term. Yes, it will give you a temporary reprieve, however, the problem will still be there and unless someone reaches out and rescues you, then sooner or later you will need to deal with the situation you are trying so desperately to avoid. As such, it’s critical to stop pulling away and using the victim card as an excuse to avoid the situation altogether. Only through tackling the situation head-on will you make progress that will help move your life forward in a better way.
How to Stop Playing the Victim Card
We are now going to spend some time breaking down a seven-step process you can use to help you avoid falling into the victim mentality trap. These steps are pretty straightforward, however, it will take a conscious effort on your part to progressively implement each step. It is only through conscious implementation that you will generate the necessary insights you need to help move forward in a more optimal way.
Step 1: Recognize Your Moment of Helplessness
Your first step is to become aware of the fact that you are in a vulnerable position of helplessness. This is an important first step, because without recognition and without acknowledging the fact that you are actually feeling helpless, then you simply cannot move forward through this process.
It is, however, paramount that you not only recognize your helplessness but also accept the fact that you are consciously choosing to see things from this limited and weakened perspective. Yes, you have in fact brought this upon yourself; and this is, of course, a good thing, because it means that you hold the power to shift your perspective with how you think about this situation moving forward.
Step 2: Decide What It Is You Want
Once you have accepted the fact that you are about to play the victim card, your next step is to decide what it is you want to get out of this situation. Ask yourself:
What is my main goal and objective here?
What is it that I want to get out of this situation?
It’s helpful to turn your desired outcome into a goal. Turning it into a goal makes it more concrete and real; something that is tangible that you can progressively work towards.
Having a goal is of course all well and good, however, you must now commit yourself fully to achieving that goal, and that requires you make positive changes in your life. To do this, acknowledge that:
I will no longer be a victim of circumstance…
I will no longer accept my behavior…
I am committed to making positive changes in my life…
Step 3: Take Full Responsibility
Now that you are fully committed to making positive changes in your life, it’s time to take full responsibility for your circumstances. By “circumstances”, I, of course, mean the difficulties, challenges and problems you are experiencing that are making you feel helpless.
It’s absolutely critical that you no longer complain, blame or make excuses for how things are and about how they should have been. Things are how they are. It’s now up to you to take full responsibility for yourself in these situations so that you can make the most optimal decisions moving forward.
Blaming and complaining never got anyone anywhere. And it certainly won’t help you improve your situation. Nor will self-loathing or self-pity. You need to instead come from a place of empowerment, and taking responsibility for the circumstances in your life is the first step in that process.
Step 4: Explore Your Psychology
Okay, so you have now recognized and acknowledged how you’re feeling; you have outlined what it is you would like to gain from the situation; you have committed to making positive change, and you have accepted full responsibility for yourself in this situation moving forward. All these things are fantastic starting points, however, you are still carrying with you a lot of psychological baggage that will likely prevent you from moving forward.
For this very reason let’s break down all the habits, thoughts, limiting beliefs and perspectives that could hold you back and keep you stuck in victim mentality mode.
First of all, let’s take a look at surface areas where you excuses and complaints reside. Ask yourself:
What excuses am I currently making about this situation?
What excuses am I currently making about myself in this situation?
What things am I complaining about?
How are my excuses and complaints making me feel?
How is it unhelpful to indulge in these excuses and complaints?
Now let’s dig a little deeper into the following set of questions:
How do I tend to think about this situation?
How is this kind of thinking hurting me?
What habits stem from these thoughts?
How are these habitual behaviors hurting me?
What do I believe about this situation?
What do I believe about myself in this situation?
How are these beliefs affecting my choices and decisions?
How are these beliefs influencing my behavior?
Why do I tend to act in this way in this specific situation?
Who specifically may have influenced me?
What past experiences have shaped how I think about this situation and about myself in this situation?
How do these past experiences affect my view of the situation?
These questions dig deep under the surface of what is happening inside your head as you try to work through the situation you find yourself in.
Answering these questions openly and honestly will provide you with insights that can help you gain the clarity you need to make positive changes moving forward. In fact, these questions are designed to begin shifting your perspective about the situation and about yourself in this situation.
The perspective you bring into every situation will either empower you or weaken you. When you come from a weakened state, you will naturally turn on the victim mentality mode and start feeling helpless and sorry for yourself. However, if you begin to turn the switch the other way you can come out of this situation feeling more empowered and hopeful that you can make optimal decisions moving forward that can help you get through the situation successfully. The choice is, of course, yours to make. Ask yourself:
Given my answers to all the above questions, how is my perspective of the situation hurting me? How is it keeping me locked in victim mentality mode?
Given what I now know, how else could I perceive this situation to help me see things in a more optimal, empowering and advantageous way?
Step 5: Correct Unwanted Programming
Now that you have clarity about how you are in this particular situation, it’s now time to correct this unwanted programming so that you can move forward through this situation feeling more empowered and confident in your own skin.
To do this you must work on transforming limiting beliefs and restructuring unhelpful thoughts. Making changes in these two areas will subsequently help you begin shifting how you perceive this situation and how you see yourself in this situation. Moreover, you must build a set of empowering beliefs that will support the goal you are working towards in this situation. Ask yourself:
What would it be helpful to believe about this situation?
What would it be helpful to believe about myself in this situation?
What beliefs could help empower me in this situation?
You must now also commit yourself to building good habits that can help support that goal. Habits are of course the little things that you do consistently each and every day that helps you chip away at your goal. Ask yourself:
What habits could I build that support the goal I want to achieve in this situation?
What small consistent actions could I take that might help me make the most of this situation?
What daily rituals could I build that would help me feel more empowered in this situation?
The final step is, of course, to consciously make an effort to eliminate your excuses and complaints. You will naturally do this by working through your limiting beliefs and unhelpful thoughts. However, it can also help to take conscious control of your language patterns and to work on subduing that critical voice inside your head.
All this will, of course, take some time and effort, but with a little patience, you will progressively begin shifting your internal dialogue. And when this shift happens, you will naturally begin feeling more empowered and confident in your ability to make the most of any situation you are confronted with.
Step 6: Identify the Missing Pieces
In order to completely break free of your victim mentality mode, you must find the missing pieces that will help you feel more confident and competent in this particular situation.
By “pieces” I mean anything that can help empower you in this situation. These pieces could for instance come in the form of knowledge, skills and/or experience you can use to build your life resource list. Ask yourself:
What could be of value here that might help me feel more confident and competent when dealing with this situation?
What specific knowledge and information do I need?
What specific skills might it be worthwhile learning?
What valuable experience could I gain that could help me feel more confident and competent handling this situation?
Acquiring any of these will automatically raise your self-confidence. With enough self-confidence, you will no longer have a need to play the victim card.
Step 7: Take Charge of the Situation
The final step of this process involves consciously choosing to take charge of the situation. You can do this by taking assertive and proactive action in the direction of the goal you have chosen to pursue.
Of course, things won’t always go to plan and you may hit a few snags along the way. As such it’s important to stay focused on asking solution-focused questions that direct your attention to things that are within your control to change and/or influence in some way. This is especially of value if you fall back into the habit of playing your victim card. In fact, the moment you revert back and play the victim ask yourself:
What am I able to control in this situation?
What else am I able to control?
Where can I make positive changes that can help me move forward toward my goal?
Answering these questions immediately puts you back in the driver’s seat. You are no longer the victim, you are instead in charge of how you respond to the events and circumstances you are dealing with.
What these questions also do well is they pull you away from playing the blame game, and from making excuses or complaints that will typically draw you into playing the victim card.
In this instance, the key is to focus on what you can control at this very moment. Even if all you can control is yourself and how you think and respond to the situation, then that is all you need to help empower your actions moving forward. In fact, if you take nothing else away from this article except for the fact that you are in control of your own perspective and responses, then that is really all you need to help free yourself from falling into the victim mentality trap.
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