How to get rid of the victim mindset

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Kevin Mangelschots

The victim mentality is a common occurrence, especially in modern times since people misuse it as a tool to garner attention and external validation. However, beggars can’t be choosers. That’s why it’s best to take control over your own life rather than blaming others or external sources.

We all know someone in our lives who never takes fault when something goes wrong, even when they’re clearly the one to blame.

That person in your life is most likely seeing and portraying themselves as the unfortunate soul, which is detrimental for their own wellbeing and success. This is how to get rid of the victim mindset.

How to overcome a victim mentality disorder?

Image of a wooden stop sign.

Realize when it’s happening

Realizing if, and when, you are placing all the blame on external sources is the first step towards learning how to overcome victim mentality disorder.

Be honest with yourself and try to analyze yourself from an outside perspective. Be as honest as you possibly can. Recognizing if and when you are exhibiting the victim mindset is required, since we can’t fix something when we don’t know that it’s broken.

The way I look at it is that it’s usually not just one person’s fault when something goes wrong. That’s because it takes two to tango. Most of the time, it’s both parties that have messed up somewhere down the road.

Now, it is possible that the other person or involved parties befalls most of the blame. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that we could’ve done better to prevent this from happening, either.

Stop blaming others

Multiple hands pointing toward the middle, where “the others” is written with white chalk on a blackboard. Indicating that they're blaming other people.

I would also add that it’s better to put too much blame on yourself rather than on other people. This way, you at least stay open to improving and learning. But it’s a delicate balance, since faulting yourself too much can lead to low self-esteem.

Blaming yourself will at least make you feel like you can control what’s happening in your life and that you can fix and learn from your mistakes.

If you attribute all the errors and negative things that happen in your life to someone or something else, you’re closing off your mind, and that means that you can’t learn anything new by default. Remember that being close minded means that improvement comes to a halt.

I’m not advocating to put all the blame on yourself, either. Certainly not when it’s very clearly not your fault. Assigning too much fault to yourself can also hurt your confidence and thus create a sense of anxiety or fear. This anxiety/fear will hinder your ability to grow as a person because it may hold you back from attempting to learn new things since you lack the courage to try new things.

Remain objective and truthful

Picture with the word “lie” in the background and the word “truth” in the middle of it.

Try to look at things as objectively and realistically as humanly possible.

Lastly, I would say that it’s no shame to consult either a good friend that you trust, or a professional counselor. It takes a strong person to admit his problems and while we don’t like it, we can’t fix everything ourselves. No matter how much we would want to.

Sometimes the view from an outer, uninvolved person really does help to put things in perspective!

Still, getting out of a victim mindset is challenging, and typically takes a long time to resolve.

Causes of the victim mentality

  • Protecting our positive self-image

    A happy, smiling woman looking in the mirror while holding her head with both hands.

    One of the lead causes of a persistent victim mentality is that it protects our own positive self-image.

    This will become an overarching theme in many of our posts. A lot of things we do, or don’t do for that matter, is to protect ourselves and our ego.

    It’s a painful experience and leaves us in a vulnerable position when we admit that we made a mistake, or when we acknowledge that we are not perfect for that matter.

    This makes us feel mortal and imperfect, which, in reality, is exactly what we are since humans are flawed. Yet, we desperately try to refute the fact that we, like every other person out there, can make mistakes and that we will someday perish.

    All of this means that protecting our optimistic self-image seems logical and has the additional benefit of maintaining this positive view of ourselves. Nevertheless, it has the negative side effect of hindering growth. And as a result, bringing a lot of anxiety and possibly even fear with itself.

  • You’ve been hurt in the past

    It’s possible you’ve been hurt by someone close to you in the past. You can be hurt in many ways, ranging from physical to mental pain. But there is no doubt that the betrayal of trust is one of the most agonizing feelings there is.

    It may be possible that you try to protect yourself by placing all the blame on the other person or involved parties.

  • Protecting and hiding your own insecurities

    It’s possible that you’re insecure and try to close yourself off from the outer critics.

    A way to do this is by telling yourself (and possibly others) that you are always right, while they are always in the wrong.

    In reality, this is narcissistic behavior and not true at all, since even the smartest of us make mistakes. This extreme portrayal of being a strong, confident individual is actually a disguise to mask our insecurities and imperfections.

  • You feel like you have no control over your own life

    If you feel like you’ve got no ability whatsoever to control what happens in your own life, then it’s only logical that you blame everyone and everything around you other than yourself for the suffering you’re going, or have been, through.

    Because why would you be the one to blame if you got absolutely no control over what’s going on, or will happen in your life anyway?

    It’s true that there are things in this world we can’t control. People are going to betray your trust eventually, people you love will eventually die. Sometimes you just get dealt a lousy hand. But it’s not true that there are no parts in your existence that you can’t control.

    There are things like your emotional state, your physical health, your social bonds with others etc. which you do have control over.

  • Having overprotecting parents/friends

    A mother carrying her child while the sun sets.

    Another potential cause of the victim syndrome can be having overprotective friends and family.

    This is closely related to our previous point. When your parents are overprotective, they are essentially not letting you mature and develop the life skills that you will need to take care of yourself, and to survive on your own.

    While helping and supporting each other can be beneficial, this kind of toxic relationship is not.

    It’s detrimental for both parties, since the parents never learn to let go of you, and they never learn you to stand on your own two feet. The child in return never learns to take care of itself, therefore continuing to be dependent on its parents for care and protection.

    If you think about it, this kind of relationship resembles the bond between a tyrant and the oppressed. “You don’t have to do anything in the house, and I will protect you. BUT, you’ll have to listen and stay dependent on me. And you’ll have to do exactly as I say.”

How to deal with someone with a victim mentality?

  1. Establish healthy boundaries

    Image of two people's feet facing each other, but being separated by a yellow line, indicating that's the boundary.

    The best way to learn how to deal with someone who has a victimhood mindset is to establish healthy boundaries to protect yourself from their negative behavior.

    People suffering from the victim mindset will complain a lot and get stuck in the “poor me” outlook. Often times, these types demand attention, and to be rescued. Needless to say, this can get mentally draining for friends, family, and even professional caretakers.

    Dr Orloff said it is essential to set limits. If not, the ‘victim’ will suck you dry emotionally. Do not indulge the victim’s hunger for self-pity by listening to endless gripes.” Do not shout, and try to remain as diplomatic and rational as possible.

  2. Realize that the victim mentality is the issue, and not necessarily the person suffering from it

    You can’t help someone suffering from a victim mindset if you approach things from a position of superiority, or by blaming the person suffering from the victim mentality.

    It’s often times this negative outlook that’s causing the issue. Sadly, this mentality often gets associated with the person suffering from it and becomes all compassing instead of isolating the problem itself.

    The individual suffering has more positive things to offer than just their pessimistic attitude.

  3. Arguing with people suffering from the victim mentality is often pointless

    A man and woman arguing while pointing their finger at each other.

    We need to remember that people suffering from this antagonistic attitude are mentally unwell, or at the very least have an unhealthy mindset.

    And while we might disagree with this outlook and regard it as irrational, to them, it’s real. And changing someone’s point of view is hard when they’re convinced they’re not the issue.

  4. Figure out if the person suffering from victim mentality is willing to seek a solution

    A person can only be helped if they’re willing to be helped. We can’t force assistance on others, no matter how bad we want to in some cases.

    That’s why we need to figure out if the person suffering is willing to accept aid from friends, family, and health care professionals.

    Because if not, more harm than good is often done by attempting to aid. The unfortunate fact is that we simply can’t help everyone out there, no matter how much we would like to.

  5. Offer support to the victim

    Image of the word “HELP” written in large with the words “ask”, “listen” and “tell” written beneath it.

    Everyone deals with their own personal tragedies, problems, and painful experiences much better if they have a good social support network. And an individual enduring a victim mentality is no different.

    Support should be offered, but care should be taken if the affected person is not willing to accept help.

    Let’s rewind and take a look at point 1 of this chapter for a second. Healthy boundaries should be established, and indulging in a victim’s hunger for self-pity by listening to endless gripes is often times more harmful than helpful.

    That’s because you’re validating their concerns in their mind, and you’re offering them the attention and pity that they so crave.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What does a victim mentality mean?

The victim mentality is characterized by constantly placing all the blame on outward sources when something goes wrong instead of putting the fault, or at least some of it, on yourself. In other words, the problem is never you, it’s always someone, or something else.

Needless to say, the victim mindset is an incredibly toxic mentality to bear. It hinders or completely halts character and intellectual growth because the learning process gets put to a halt.

Because why would you bother learning something new or improving something when you are already perfect in your own mind and thus, never make any mistake?

Examples of the victim mentality at play

Image of the word “example” being written with a blue marker by someone's hand.

Let me give you a potential illustration of the narcissistic victim mentality at work.

You blame the other sex when you can’t get a partner. You say they are shallow, or only interested in how people look, etc. But perhaps the reason is you instead of them. Your attitude may be poor, you might be a shallow person, or maybe you are in poor physical shape.

You say the whole world is against you when in reality, you are being rude to those around you, and they simply respond in kind.

This creates a negative feedback loop where lots of people get stuck in for various reasons.

What is the opposite of a victim mindset?

The opposite of the victim mindset is taking accountability.

You should take responsibility for your life instead of employing victimhood.

That doesn’t mean that we can control everything that happens to us, or what goes on in our existence. But it does convey that we do have the ability to change our circumstances and, consequently, the outcome if we decide to take action in order to do something about it.

Final note

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

People going through the 5 stages of grief can easily fall prey to the victim mindset. But they’re not the only potential prey. Those who regularly engage in negative self talk, or those who are too self-absorbed, can succumb to this detrimental attitude as well.

Yet, it’s a very negative mindset to bear. Not to mention that it amounts to zero good since it does nothing to improve things, or to help you take ownership of your life.

Try to take possession of your existence, and employ a positive mindset to alter things for the better.

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