Overcoming the Victim Mentality

The blame game: we’ve all played it, most of us probably exceptionally well, with wins across the board. Unfortunately, in this game, we ultimately end up losing to the worst possible opponent: ourselves. When we constantly offset blame and responsibility for the circumstances in our own lives, we are giving away our power, and handing it off to something outside of ourselves to say “hey, this is the suck that you get. Poor you. There’s nothing you can do about it.” This leaves us not only weak and defeated, but open to vulnerability and the ongoing vicious cycle of a victim mentality.

Owning the choices, habits, circumstances, decisions, and overall details in our own lives can be downright scary. It means we have a say in the matter, and that means responsibility. If we don’t like what’s going on, it’s much easier to blame it on someone or something else. It’s saying that the things in our lives are happening to us, not for us, or even because of us. “It’s not MY fault.” “It’s genetics’ fault for making me this way.” “It’s my parents’ fault for teaching me these habits.” “It’s my doctor’s fault for not getting my medication right.” “It’s my spouse’s fault for making me angry all the time.” “It’s the dog’s fault, the babysitter’s fault, the bag boy’s fault, the mechanic’s fault, my co-worker’s fault…” And the fact of the matter could very well be someone else slipping up, letting us down, and not doing what we wanted or expected. But it’s not an issue of where to place the blame. It’s an issue of choice: what can I do about this situation? How can I make a change to yield what I really want?

When we can first own the circumstances of our lives is when we can truly begin to step out of a victim mentality and into a place of power and positive change. Does this mean that things won’t happen that are outside of our control? No. Does it make life or circumstances “fair” or “easier?” Also nope. Owning the responsibility means we get the choice for what happens next. It doesn’t prevent real stuff from happening, but it does encourage us to pull the plug on our pity parties, move out of our victimhood stagnancy,  and step into positive change.

I’ve played a dang good victim in my day, complete with the “It’s not my Fault” t-shirt and matching “Poor Me” hat, even rounding it all out with the quintessential “It’s Not Fair!” socks. I have often lived my life without taking charge or chasing after the things I wanted, for fear of failure, insecurity. I just allowed things to happen, to fall into my lap at random. The victim mentality cleared me of fault. If it didn’t go as planned, or things didn’t transpire as I wanted them to, that wasn’t on me, because I didn’t do anything. The responsibility was outsourced to whoever or whatever that brought that thing into my life in the first place. And while my victim mentality perhaps shielded me from a lot of things I might not have wanted, it also kept me from a lot of things that would have led to personal growth and wealth for my mind and soul.  Trust me, I’m preaching to the choir here, friend. And that choir, man can they sing a darn convicting tune.

When it comes to moving out of a victimhood mentality and into one of personal responsibility, the success is not measured by the size or magnitude of the change you make, but in making the decision. It’s easy to think that we need to make these huge overhauls in life, of our habits, our thoughts, our lifestyle, and if the change isn’t big enough or noteworthy enough, then it doesn’t count. That could not be further from the truth. Setting lofty goals that are too intense to achieve at the onset just sets us up for disappointment and a perpetuation of the cycle: “Well I couldn’t master that, so it must not be what I’m supposed to do anyway.” And there’s an ease in quitting and omitting responsibility: I didn’t succeed at this thing immediately, so it must not be worth it—or even still, “it’s not my fault.” It’s a removal from doubt and insecurity-- two very big feels that aren’t so pleasant.

How can we overcome the “it’s not my fault” mentality and shift to one of “what can I do to make this circumstance work to my favor?” When you can break habit change down into more tangible, manageable steps, it becomes so much easier to reach your goals. For starters, know that:

1.      It’s NEVER too late. Maybe you’ve spent a lifetime eating a certain way and can’t fathom how you could possibly go about changing it. Well fortunately, it doesn’t take another lifetime to make positive changes that will stick. The time is now.

2.      Make it doable. Start small. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself that you can’t possibly achieve, like “starting tomorrow, I’m completely changing my entire diet.” Sometimes these “cold turkey” tactics can be useful and beneficial. But giving yourself something small and manageable, like “tomorrow, I’m not going to drink soda” sets you up for success. Accomplish that, then move on to the next.

3.      Failure isn’t permanent; it doesn’t claim or overpower the successes. Failure isn’t really failing, it’s only figuring out the right way not to do something. If you don’t succeed at first, pick up where you left off and keep moving in the direction of your goals. Learn from any mistakes, and pat yourself on the back for continuing to stick with it.

4.      Give comparison a swift kick in the ass. Comparison is the thief of joy and a big contributor to us quitting altogether. Don’t look at someone else’s place in life and think “I could never do what they do.” You don’t know their journey, and chances are they had to go through a lot of their own trial and error to get there. Only use comparison if it somehow motivates you to achieve your own goals. Start with where you’re ready, and leave the rest.

I hope this motivates you to begin to look for the victim mentality in your own life. I encourage you to take those thoughts captive and use them to guide you into tangible changes that you can make today. It doesn’t mean the situation will always resolve in your favor, but when you own the responsibility, it does set you up to keep learning along the way and leaves you with the power to choose the next step.

I’d love to hear from you! What are some ways the victim mentality has been overpowering you, and what can you do to reclaim your power? Let me know in the comments below!