The victim mentality: It isn't my fault!

sad face by Juand Paola,

Confronting the victim mentality

A victim mentality is one where it is always someone else's fault for bad things happening to you. Further than this, it can be an expectation that things will go wrong, because `bad things always happen to me'. A victim blames others for their circumstances - when something happens, they don't take responsibility for their actions.

The most effective way to overcome the victim mentality is to start taking responsibility for every action and circumstance in your life - as you seek in every possible way to take responsibility for your life, you will begin to see that: Although I cannot control my circumstances, I can always control my response!

When we embrace this attitude, life's circumstances will no longer control us, because we have been freed to choose how to respond!

Dealing with the victim mindset

Victims tend to see the control and responsibility for their situations as belonging to others, i.e. the bad things that happen to them are always someone else's fault. This is a destructive mindset, as not only does the victim feel negatively about their current situation, but they also feel powerless to change it.

Victor Frankl survived the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz by discovering the ultimate freedom "to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to chose one's own way."

Frankl said "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." Covey, in his book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", describes this ability to choose our response as his first habit, "Be Proactive".

Covey describes two concentric circles, the inner for influence and the outer for concern. Proactive people focus on the things they can control (the circle of influence) and their influencce grows. Victims focus on what they cannot control (things outside the circle of influence but in the circle of concern) and their circle of influence shrinks.

Transition to healthier thinking

The victim surrenders power over their life to others -- their life is driven by their environment. Proactive people's lives are driven by the values they employ in how they choose to respond. Victims can often be bound by unforgiveness; as Corrie Ten Boom said, "Forgiveness is setting the prisoner free, only to find out that the prisoner was me." Releasing others for their failings and accepting responsibility for our own futures is often the required path forward from a victim mentality.

Victims can feel they have certain rights that the world owes them, and are disappointed or angry when the world doesn't deliver. They tend to feel very strongly about "their rights" and they way things should be done for them. Contrast this "in-bound" worldview with Peter Drucker, who discusses his life/work approach in "The Effective Executive." His focus is not "what can I get?", or even "what can I achieve?" but rather "what can I contribute?"

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