You hear the term ‘victim mentality’ thrown around a lot referring to people who seemingly wallow in negativity and angst.
Make no mistake that ‘victim mentality’ is not a medical term. In fact, most healthcare professionals avoid using it at all because of the undeserved stigma surrounding it.
Although people who feel victimized are often perceived as negative, the pain and upset that fuel this mindset are very real.
They are left feeling vulnerable and hurt, leading to uncomfortable emotions and troublesome behaviors.
Here’s a look at some of the traits of someone who feels victimized.
1) The blame game
Blaming outside influences for their troubles is among the clearest signs of a victim mentality.
Blaming others is the assumption that their circumstances are someone else’s fault when they’re always in control of their own mindset and behavior (if nothing else.)
To get unstuck from a negative mindset, the first step is to stop blaming the world for your problems and take responsibility for your life.
And self-blame is just as bad. Self-blaming is not the same thing as taking responsibility, it’s self-sabotage.
2) Hurt people hurt people
Says it all, really. People who’ve been hurt tend to lash out in a futile attempt to escape their pain.
We all dislike certain things about ourselves. But people with a victim mentality assume that other people dislike those certain things as well. Truth be told, most people don’t even notice what bugs other people.
If someone has a negative outlook on life, they assume that others see things through the same lens they do and interpret others’ actions as judgmental, hurtful, or positive proof they’re disliked.
Perennial victims fear their own vulnerability and if someone inadvertently triggers this fear, they’ll automatically lash out in self-protective mode. They won’t even be aware of it.
Hurt people hurt people. And lashing out is unconscious, knee-jerk behavior.
3) Negative self-talk
Succumbing to self-sabotage and self-hatred thanks to their inner critic is peak victim mentality in action.
The most important relationship anyone has in life is the one we cultivate with ourselves. If someone can’t take care of, respect, accept, and love themselves, how can others treat them in kind?
Think about it. How healthy can someone’s relationships be if they don’t even have a loving relationship with themselves?
Picture this. Our victim is having an awesome day and then their partner says they don’t like their new outfit.
Their mood suddenly plummets.
Or they’re feeling great right up until they get a flat tire, and they remain annoyed the rest of the day.
Or maybe their kid barfs all over their power suit and they just want to go back to bed and be a victim.
These types of responses are indicative that this person is letting outside forces determine their mood, and therefore their happiness.
It’s normal to be affected by life’s twists and turns and to feel annoyance and even anger. But it’s unwise to let these negative emotions move in permanently and bring down your frequency, which is exactly what people with a victim mindset do.
People with a victim mentality tend to be very rigid in their thinking and therefore are expert wheel spinners.
“Victims” fail to see that forgiveness isn’t about how someone hurt you, it’s about your response to the pain inflicted upon you. The power lies in one’s willingness and ability to forgive and let go of anger and resentment.
This is how we find peace.
6) Waiting for rescue
Aside from that, they constantly depend on others to save them from their misery like the cavalry rushing in. But they’re setting themselves up for disappointment.
It’s a mistake to rely on others to recognize your talents, make you feel special, or, heaven forbid, whole. “Victims” don’t realize that’s their job, and that nobody can do it better.
Depending on others’ perceptions to define them and waiting for the world to change in their favor are classic ways people play the victim.
It’s sad that victim mode makes people throw their power away with both hands. They have it, too bad they don’t use it!
7) Lacks authenticity
Being true to oneself is the essence of authenticity. If someone’s too busy seeking outside validation like most victims do, they’ll never learn that the only person’s approval they need is their own.
When all’s said and done, it’s your call to decide what you can and should do. We always have a choice, even when it doesn’t feel that way.
People with a victim mentality haven’t learned that they don’t have to fall in with the world’s idea of an acceptable career or lifestyle. If only they knew that no goal is unreachable unless they allow the world to dictate what’s possible for them.
8) Follows the crowd
This circles back to a lack of authenticity as well.
Most people with a victim mentality mindlessly go through life accepting societal norms. So, they follow the latest trends, eat what the TV tells them to eat, and believe whatever mainstream media tells them to believe.
In other words, they are leading an existence completely devoid of authenticity.
Victims are afraid to do whatever brings them joy and resonates with their soul, especially if it means alienation from society.
The first step is to stop following the crowd. They are at least as confuddled as anyone else.
If someone’s living authentically, they’ll eventually find their tribe that totally gets them and wholeheartedly embraces them for who they are.
9) Living in the past
Listen up. The mistakes made earlier in life have nothing to do with what someone can accomplish today. Each new day is a new chance to reinvent ourselves.
Unfortunately, those in victim mode let their failures, traumas, or any other negative experiences define what they can become. Life is limitless and so is their potential, no matter what challenges they’ve faced in the past, but they can’t or won’t see that.
10) Not interested in solutions
People with a victim mentality tend to bristle when offered possible solutions to their problems. They feel backed into a corner.
The thing is, not all negative situations are completely out of one’s control once you calmly assess the options. Usually, there are some small measures they can take to improve things, even minimally.
People coming from a place of victimization might have scant interest in trying to make positive changes.
Setting aside a little time to wallow isn’t necessarily unhealthy. In fact, it can be quite therapeutic, as it helps with recognizing and processing one’s emotions.
But this period of wallowing needs to have a definite ending point, and that can be a challenge for victims. They fail to realize that once they’ve reached it, it’s time to begin working toward positive change.
11) A bit paranoid
Life isn’t out to get any of us, no matter how valid that may feel sometimes. But those with a victim mindset find it easier to convince themselves that people are scheming against them when it’s just life being … life.
When we’re in sync with our true selves, life has a way of guiding and supporting us along the path so that we can fulfill our full potential. People with a victim mentality would probably scoff at the very notion.
Victims see challenges as obstacles, not as new opportunities for growth.
12) Self pity party
Who doesn’t love a good pity party? Now and then it’s healthy to moan about our grievances, as long as we know when to stop. This is another tricky point with perennial victims because they don’t know when to leave said party.
All of the negative self-talk leaves them to believe that they aren’t good enough.
But the thing is, they are.
Self-doubt, self-hatred, and self-sabotage is peak victim mentality. Why be your own worst enemy and set yourself up for failure? This is what victims excel at.
If you don’t respect and love yourself, then how can you expect other people to?
It’s pretty difficult to have successful relationships with others if you can’t even have a loving and healthy relationship with yourself.
This is a hard lesson for the victim to learn.
We all have those days when we would swear that the universe is conspiring against us. The hurt feels intentional. You feel targeted by fate.
You really do feel victimized.
This is perfectly natural from time to time. But if you find you’re feeling this way more often than not, it’s time for a reality check. Settling into victim mode for the long haul is not in one’s best interests.