Looking back on my life there were events that took place where I felt I was a victim. Things happened that were beyond my control. Sometimes “bad things happen to good people”. However, what I’m talking about is a "victim mentality". This is developed when a person continuously believes that the negative things that happen to them are the result of outside forces beyond their control. It reflects a feeling of powerlessness over one’s circumstances.
When my oh-so-beautiful life blew up in my face there were a lot of pieces I had to pick up and reassemble. For a while, I felt like a victim. I was angry, hurt, and resentful. To this day, almost 18 years later, there are STILL parts I’m rebuilding. But I didn’t want to feel powerless over my life. So, I developed the attitude that “You may knock me down, but I’ll get back up stronger and faster every time.” That’s served me well through the years. And I did what I needed to do to move forward. Time passed and those wounds healed. Growth took place. But interestingly, in areas of my life that continued to be a struggle, it seemed a victim mindset subtly weaved its way into my thinking without me even noticing. It wasn’t readily apparent because it was so non-pervasive, rearing its head only in response to the longstanding hurdles I was still trying to overcome. It took a major dose of self-awareness to recognize and re-mold this mindset into something more empowering and productive. It’s hard to see the available opportunities when you’re stuck in victim mode.
A few months after the Covid lockdown a professional colleague asked how I was making out. Surprisingly I heard myself reply about how “tough” it is when you’re a single mom, you work for yourself, and you have no money coming in. What?? Did I just say this? It was almost as if there was this underlying current running that said… “Look at me! Despite being a victim, I’m still doing my best. Yay me!” Or maybe it was the "I have it harder than you do" theme. Could be either! Or both! Or more!
As I walked away, I thought “Geez! Do I really STILL have this storyline going? I thought I had moved on from that! How ridiculous. This story isn’t even relevant to me anymore.” I’ll tell you one thing…a victim mentality is sneaky. You don’t even know it’s there sometimes. Hearing my response prompted some self-reflection to determine just WHY I would fall back into this pattern of “here I am…doing my best…in spite of my victimhood”. What was I getting out of it? It also caused me to evaluate where else this kind of mentality might be lurking undercover, disguised as something else, even after all my years of personal development. Mastering your mindset is a process of peeling back the layers. A journey.
There are so many reasons people hold on to the victim mentality. Self-justification. Not wanting to take responsibility. Need for validation. Wanting to fit in. These are just a few. Even though it makes us feel powerless, on some level it also makes us feel better. Unfortunately, as long as we keep the victim narrative going, we will continue to be stuck feeling like a victim. Powerless. Strangely, sometimes that feels easier. BUT if we want to break free from the situations that hold us captive then we must be willing to do some self-reflection and let go of this line of thinking. We must disrupt our patterns.
In my case, I didn’t even know this was going on. When I answered her question I was just speaking the “truth”. And look…maybe everything I said was a fact. So what? The quiet energy behind it was a storyline I have no interest in telling anymore. Whether it was fact or not is irrelevant. What is more relevant is that telling that story keeps it alive in my life. (See Arrow Tip #5) What is also true is there are people in FAR worse circumstances. I am NOT a victim. What is more important are the MANY blessings that came along with the hard times. What is key is deciding “Do I want to remain in this state or do I want to move forward?”
Examine areas of your life where you’re struggling and notice what stories you’re telling. Do they come from a place of blame, self-pity, or victimhood? If so, decide whether you want to stay in that state. If not, then take your power back by changing your response to your circumstances. Stop seeing yourself as a victim. Stop giving your consent to this state of mind. If the story seems to persist, then use self-reflection to find what deeper motivation is lurking underneath that keeps this narrative going for you.
1. Notice when you’re in a victim mentality.
2. Playing the role of the victim is making you feel better in some way. What is it?
3. Take your power back by no longer consenting to this state of mind. Then change the narrative.
*Remember: YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE.