In one of the classes I offer, we are talking about our thought process and how it creates mindsets. I have come to realize there is a clear distinct difference in having a victim mentality. It starts with the way you think with negative self talk. It is believing false assumptions and grasping a victim mindset. Most people don’t know they have a victim mindset however those around them eventually see the true picture by the reactions they take. The victim surrenders power over their life to others because their life is driven by their environment and are they are often bound by unforgiveness. Victims tend to see the control and responsibility for their situation as belonging to others and blame the bad things that happened to them on someone else. In other words, “I suffer today because of someone else.”
In counseling I often tell others life can knock us down at times, but the past or current situations cannot control who we are or what holds for our future. Our past doesn’t control or determine our future nor does our environment control us, only we can determine our future by taking responsibility for our own actions and thoughts today. This is what I try to convey to those who have a victim mindset and give them exercises on how to change.
I remember times where I had faulty thinking and I believed others were always trying to make me mad until I had Jeff to remind me that wasn’t true. I don’t know where it came from and I don’t know why I thought that. It started with an argument between me and him and I automatically owned the untrue thoughts that everyone was out to try to just aggravate me or come against me, not intentional of course but it seemed everyone in my life at the time was making me irritated. That is when I realized I was being controlled by how I reacted to my environment and not by the truth. I realized I had to take my thoughts captive to Christ and what His word said about me and my life instead of believing that others were out to “get me”. Call me silly but it seems when you get in that type of mindset, everything is just “bad” or negative thus creating a snow ball effect of bad thoughts, decisions and words spoken leading to situations that seem to get out of control. It puts you into fight mode, justification for your actions mode and throw a fit mode to tell the world the wrong that has been done to you. I am thankful I had a husband who put a stop to this before it got out of control because I couldn’t have imagined going through this mental torment longer than a day.
When something happens in life causing stress or pain, a person with a victim mindset usually blames someone else for their suffering without taking responsibility for their actions in the dramatic situation. (“This happened to me because of you!” statement example or “You made me angry!”) This person usually has low a self-esteem, intimacy issues and becomes angry as they have a feeling of helplessness. It is though the truth or other choices are simply invisible. The victim feels their life is just a roller coaster of bad circumstances one right after another. They may even feel as though it is fate or that they are being punished. With this type of mindset a person feels important when they make an issue by blaming others to get attention while portraying a feeling of helplessness thus creating “I am the victim here”. This in turn satisfies the ego to make others think you are helpless in the given situation. They usually like to tell others their side of the story in order to make others feel sorry for their circumstances and help them through the situation. This mindset affects the mood, behavior and happiness not only in themselves but also others around them. More likely others will not continue to help them for it seems it is one continuing saga since their situation continues in one form or another. My father-in-law always said, “You can’t continue to help someone if they don’t help themselves”. Victims focus on what they cannot control therefore their circle of influence shrinks, in other words, no one wants to be around them after a period of time fearing they are always asking for help or leaving a negative influence behind. It also focuses on the negative aspects of life therefore decisions made will be based on wrong assumptions. Thus creating more bad decisions which lead to more pain and failure which encourages this victim mindset to continue. This is why it seems that life continues to shell out bad things. We have learned that thoughts lead to actions, actions lead to habits, habits lead to character and character leads to destiny. It all starts with a thought. We are here today because of the thoughts we had yesterday or the day before. Therefore it starts with thoughts and we need to change ‘our mind’.
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. The focus is “what can I get?” from this situation. What people don’t realize they can emerge as victor or victim and their actions prove what mindset controls them. We cannot always control what happens to us but we can control how to react to it.
How can we help others or ourselves in this mindset? We must first realize how to control our own negative self talk. We all must learn to shut down negative opinions from others. We also must learn the skills to overcome our thought process. Instead of taking pity we can learn to rise above events and refuse to allow others to rule our life by being proactive instead of reactive. Proactive people focus on the things they can control. The most effective way to overcome the victim mentality is to start taking responsibility for every action and circumstance in life instead of blaming others for current circumstance. Proactive people’s lives are driven by the values they employ in how they choose to respond. When something happens we must ask ourselves what we did wrong in the given situation so we will learn wisdom not to repeat it. If we don’t learn, guess what happens, life continues to shell out the “bad circumstances” cause we haven’t corrected the victim mindset, therefore we continue to blame others for where we are in life. We must release others for their failings to meet our expectations and accept responsibility for our own actions. We first must start thinking positive and believe people are not out to get us or out to make us miserable or out to sabotage our happiness. We must replace negativity with positive thinking.
As the Word tells us, “renew our mind daily”. When we learn the wisdom we will stop blaming others on our current environment or past situations. Jesus never blamed others or wanted to tell others his side of the story to make others feel sorry for him but instead prayed for them and died for them.
Prayer: Lord help me change my thoughts into Your thoughts when I fall into the victim mindset. Help me to recognize the truth instead of lies. Help me to remember You are always in control even when I am not. Help to be proactive and not reactive to my environment or current situation and to think positive. Help me to own my responsibilities and not blame others for how I am feeling or what I am going through at the present time. Help me to pray for others instead of wanting to take revenge on others because of my circumstances. Help me to forgive others, love others and reach out to others. In Jesus Name. Amen.