Asset 2@4x
Passion struck podcast thumbnail with a woman blindfolded and mouth sewn shut, demonstrating the signs of victim mentality.

Overcome Victim Mentality: 7 Ways to Stop Playing the Victim


Life has its ups and downs for each one of us. Every day, bad things could happen to you or to others you know. However, some people insist that it was never their fault. As a result, they develop a victim mentality, where they feel they don’t have any control over what happens to them. They contend they are powerless to influence the challenging circumstances and issues they face. They simply experience it every time.

Those with a victim mindset refuse to accept personal responsibility for playing the victim and argue that they have no influence over the situation. Instead, they allow their minds to believe that life just happens to them. This mentality inevitably keeps them in a vicious circle of unpleasant experiences and prevents them from taking responsibility for their lives.

Someone who plays the victim assumes that other people or things are to blame for their misfortunes. Their spouse, relatives, coworkers, friends, or “the way the world is” might be to blame. They frequently lament the unfortunate events in their lives.

Victim mentality is a real condition that significantly impacts a person’s thoughts and, ultimately, their quality of life.

Let’s now examine the psychology of the victim mindset and the effects of overcoming it using the narrative of a person I will refer to as The Foreigner.

The story of the foreigner

Once upon a time, a young man lived in a developing country with unfavorable economic conditions. He was a university graduate but didn’t have the job he prayed for. He sorely blamed his inability to get his dream job on the government, even though many of his fellow citizens still were happily employed.

This young man believed that the only way he could get his ideal job and become successful was to move to a developed country where he thought everything was perfect and would favor him. So, he gathered money, made all the necessary travel arrangements, and traveled to a distant land.

After settling into the country, he began to apply for jobs in his desired profession but was consistently rejected. The young man began to attribute his rejection to discrimination because of his race and status as a foreigner. He ran into one of his countrymen, who told him how people like them were segregated and mistreated. Although this young man had not experienced segregation or racism, he internalized his countryman’s words. He ignored the face that he lacked the adequate qualifications to get the desired jobs and wasn’t doing anything to improve himself.

Then one day, while he was on a public bus, he got another rejection email and, in an angry outburst, said, “It’s all because of my race! They hate me!” and burst into tears. At that moment, an elderly man sitting beside him tried to comfort him and asked him what the problem was. After the foreigner narrated his views of being consistently rejected because of his race, the elderly man asked him a straightforward question. “Do you think you have the required qualifications for the jobs you are applying for?”

At this question, the young man paused and, for the first time, realized he actually didn’t have exactly what it took to get into the companies he wanted.

The elderly man then advised this young man to take responsibility for himself and do what was necessary to get the job hoped for rather than blaming his rejection on unfound hatred for him. The foreigner listened and took the advice.

As time passed, he made daily choices to focus on overcoming his victim mindset and learned to be responsible for himself. He worked on his attitude and took new courses to boost his qualifications. He again applied for his dream positions. Although he still got some rejection emails, he finally landed the job he wanted.

He worked diligently at this company to be free from his limiting belief that he was a target for victimization because of his race. And as time went by, he got promoted and even went on to attain a senior managerial position.

This foreigner had finally unlearned his victim mentality.

How do you develop a victim mentality?

Nobody is a victim by birth. Victim mentality is a taught behavior, not a psychological trait. People with victim mentalities frequently go through trauma or difficult times without learning more effective coping mechanisms. In fact, psychologists refer to this as “learned helplessness,” a condition in which victims of traumatic events believe they are powerless to escape their situation.

They consequently have a pessimistic outlook on life and believe they have little control over their circumstances. They have little to no sense of responsibility for their lives because they don’t think anything is their fault. It merely occurs to them. Then gradually, it becomes their default state of mind.

The victim mindset is based on three fundamental ideas:

– Whatever I do, bad things happen to me.

– Other people are to blame for bad things, not me.

– There is no use in attempting to change what occurs since I cannot.

People who play the victim frequently assume that everyone, or at least certain people, are working against them. They feel hopeless and powerless over their own life and are aware that they are inferior on a deep level and do not value themselves.

Playing the victim as a coping mechanism

Constantly believing you are a victim is a habit you develop over time. It’s something you learn to do and, with time, get comfortable with. It is simply settling with excuses and easy and familiar rather than dealing with new challenges.

John R. Miles quote from the passion struck podcast about having a victim mentalityBecause they are so afraid of what lies beyond their reach, victims choose to remain in a frame of mind that rationalizes away their misfortunes. The failures and difficulties experienced never appear to be under the victim’s control but are instead attributed to “circumstances outside their control.”

According to spiritual teacher and self-help author Eckhart Tolle, the memory of what happened to a victim mentality person is not perceived as just what happened to them but who they are. They shift from believing “This was done to me” to believing “I am a victim of this,” and they stay that way throughout their lives.

The word “excuse” is crucial in comprehending the victim mentality. A person with a victim personality will have an arsenal of excuses to meet any situation. They are extraordinarily inventive and imaginative in creating excuses or rationalizations for failure. Because they intentionally do not want to fail, they make excuses. They become accustomed to not owning up to their faults, though, due to their rigorous training and psychological indoctrination to find reasons to justify every failure.

After the excuse, the next phase is “blaming.” In victim mentality, people frequently blame others for their errors, troubles, or failures. Some victims even accuse others of making their entire life a disaster.

How do you know if you have a victim mentality?

So far, we have discussed the factors and behaviors that drive a person to have a victim mentality. Being dissatisfied in some areas of your life is common. However, it’s crucial to consider the broader picture. You may have a victim mentality if you observe recurring patterns in various aspects of your life.

Identifying and acknowledging an issue is the first step in solving it. To determine whether you could have developed a victim mentality, look for these symptoms in yourself:

  • Avoiding responsibility

People with a victim mindset often make excuses, place the blame elsewhere, and generally avoid facing their situations squarely. They are passive about life and ignore that they might even contribute to their adverse conditions.

  • Feeling helpless and powerless.

Because victim-minded people never take responsibility for getting out of their distressing situations, they believe there isn’t anything they can do to end their misery and therefore remain in a constant state of helplessness.

This leads to continuous suffering on their part and, with time, getting used to a mindset that accommodates needless suffering.

  • Possessing a lack of confidence

When someone repeatedly feels helpless, they lose faith in their capacity to accomplish anything important and frequently experience issues with self-confidence and self-worth.

These people might believe things like, “I’m not smart enough to succeed,” “I’m not capable of accomplishing great things,” or “I’m not good enough to get a promotion.” This perspective of themselves could prevent people from improving their abilities or discovering new strengths and talents that might aid them in achieving their objectives.

  • Harboring anger and resentment

Because they see life or other people as solely responsible for whatever challenges they go through, people with a victim’s mindset develop anger towards life and others. They feel helpless about their circumstances improving over time, saddened when they think their loved ones don’t care, and resentful of others who appear happy and content with their own life. They are irritated and angry with a world that seems to be against them.

  • Becoming complacent and indifferent

Victim-minded persons feel that their difficulties are predestined and that there is nothing they can or should do to halt or prevent them since they are accustomed to not accepting responsibility for their lives. Because of this, people merely exist and go through the motions of life without contributing anything useful to themselves or the world in which they live. They obsess about unpleasant circumstances but show no real interest in resolving them.

  • Experiencing despair

The feeling of despair happens to a person who has lost all hope of things getting better. For one with a victim mentality, this feeling builds up over time when they expect things to go wrong, and this is a constant state of mind that clouds their ability to look to possibilities of positive things happening to them.

Seven ways to break free from a victim mentality

Being a victim is a learned trait.

In other words, it’s not a trait you are born with. You acquire it through social interaction. It could have developed due to trauma or through learning it from family members. You have the ability to conquer it, though. Start by carrying out the following seven helpful steps;

  • Forgive your past

You can choose to continue blaming someone for anything they did to you in the past, but it won’t make anything different. You must first forgive whatever may have contributed to your previous victim mindset before you can release yourself from it. Whether it be a romantic connection, an actual unforeseen circumstance, or even your own deeds.

By letting go of the past, you will be able to concentrate on the present and the future and be motivated to take the required steps to realize your ideal life.

  • Take self-responsibility

In a previous episode, I discussed the need to take responsibility for our lives. It is only when you affirm responsibility for your life that you will be able to stop blaming others for your misfortunes. Understandably, certain things will be beyond your control, but you must consciously not be subject to any of these circumstances. You always have a choice, and it is when you realize this and take responsibility that you will be equipped to face challenges and win the right to the dream life you hope for.

  • Choose to thrive.

Thriving through life only happens when you’ve consciously decided to do all it takes to live your best, no matter the odds. It doesn’t just happen passively. So, you have to be intentional in your decision and then back it up with actionable plans to move on from someone who feels like a victim to one who will achieve their goals and aspirations.

  • Engage in activities that boost your self-confidence

Self-confidence comes from within. That means you build it for yourself by acting bravely (even if it’s just a small beginning step) and engaging in exercises and activities that have been shown to increase confidence.

As you gain more information and experience success, you grow self-confidence and learn from your mistakes. But it’s crucial to remember that you must also improve your thinking.

Your mentality eventually motivates you to act, even (or especially) when circumstances seem uncertain, and you are filled with misgivings. In that instance, you’ll want to adopt an attitude of growth and resilience.

  • Be kind and compassionate towards yourself.

It can take a long time and effort to overcome the victim mentality, and there may be setbacks along the road. There will be times when it seems as though you are moving forward and backward at the same time, but you must continue to be patient and kind to yourself.

Change typically takes time, so keep in mind that you are still moving forward, no matter how little progress it may seem you are making. The everyday actions you take and your perseverance, even when it seems like you are reverting to the old habit, ultimately lead to your complete freedom from it.

  • Have an attitude of gratitude

It is impossible to overstate the value of adopting a grateful outlook on life. People who are thankful in life don’t always have their ducks in a row. They have merely learned from them to concentrate and find the positive in every circumstance.

By adopting this mindset, you will stop blaming others and yourself for your misfortunes and instead be able to perceive the changes that lie ahead of you and be better equipped to take advantage of them.

  • Show kindness to others.

Focusing on others’ issues while letting go of your own brings a special type of strength and joy. Doing this can shift your focus from feeling sorry for yourself and helpless to helping others, ultimately motivating you to overcome the victim mindset.

Tackling victim mentality in others

You may not be affected by this negative mindset but might have a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a colleague at work, or someone else you know who is affected by it. Living with and dealing with such people can be quite exhausting because of their constant complaints and other attributes mentioned earlier in this article.

How, then, do you manage the situations with them and ultimately help them in some way to break free from this limiting victim mentality?

The following are practical suggestions:

  • Be logical with them

The first thing you should do while dealing with someone who plays the victim is to maintain your composure and avoid being emotionally involved. By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid getting sucked into their drama and their justifications and lies.

  • Set boundaries

It may become so draining and even frustrating to listen to someone who is often complaining about anything that even the sight of them approaching you can make you feel exhausted. You must set a time limit on how much of your attention they receive.

Recognize that those with a victim mentality typically take great satisfaction in being perceived as victims and enjoy telling as many people as possible about how terrible life is for them. They’ll find someone else if you limit how much they can gripe to you. They may finally learn to fix their self-limiting mindset if others follow suit and they have no one to blame.

  • Redirect the conversation

Victim-minded people often thrive on negative talk. Don’t contribute to the growth of this mentality by affirming their distorted view of reality and allowing them to continue in their line of negative talk.

This does not imply that you should not have empathy for them or ignore what they say because there may be problems that need to be addressed. Nevertheless, you should assist them in seeing the positive aspects of their circumstances and the steps they can take to improve them.

  • Don’t attack or label them.

One thing you should avoid doing to someone with a victim mentality is accusing them outright of acting like victims or using slurs that suggest this. They will just see such behavior as confirmation of their sense of victimhood, which could reinforce their unfavorable perspective.

  • Encourage them to find alternative solutions.

Urge them to seek therapy, assist them in identifying certain negative behaviors, share this article with them (along with any other helpful materials), and offer them constant support as they work to improve. You never know how big of an impact your ostensibly insignificant efforts will have on assisting them in escaping this pessimistic outlook.

Don’t be the prisoner of your own mind

In his TED Talk (which I referred to in a previous episode about how our beliefs shape our realities), Sean Stephenson emphasized that the real prison exists in our minds. Your mind has the power to hijack you. Even when there is no external pressure, it can imprison you in a state of uncertainty and anxiety. Our views about ourselves and the world serve as the keys to our mental prisons.

If you remain in the past, you will only continue to think and act like a victim in the present. Stop trying to move forward while looking behind and start gazing straight ahead. Always remember that you are no longer a victim of the circumstance you were in. Much is to be done, including exploring new possibilities, developing new concepts, reaching new milestones, and accomplishing many more wonderful things. Refrain from limiting yourself by maintaining a mindset that suggests you have no control over your circumstances.

As you begin to make plans and take steps to break free from your limiting mentality, you will realize that everything you have believed in the past, which has caused you to live as a victim, is not valid. You decide where and with whom you want to spend your time.

Only you have power over your behavior. You can choose to release yourself from this confining victim perspective and continue to grow in life. Embrace your potential, take control of your life, and don’t be a prisoner of your mind.

Where to go from here

I hope you found this article useful. If you are looking for practical advice to impact your career, wellness, life, and relationships, check out Passion Struck with John R. Miles.

Learn from women at the top of their game (Susan Cain, Gretchen Rubin, Rachel Hollis), trailblazers (Seth Godin, Robin Sharma, Scott Galloway, Jeff Walker, Daniel Pink), astronauts (Chris Cassidy, Nicole Stott, Kayla Barron, Wendy Lawrence), veterans (Admiral James Stavridis, VADM Sandy Stosz, VADM Ted Carter, RADM Tim Gallaudet, and Jeff Struecker), scientists (Katy Milkman, Jonah Berger, Dom D’Agostino, Scott Barry Kaufman, Ayelet Fishback, Max H. Bazerman), doctors (Jay Lombard, Cynthia Li, Kara Fitzgerald), athletes (Colin O’Brady, Shawn Springs, Jen Bricker-Bauer) and an exciting array of fascinating minds.

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, Podcast AddictPocket CastsStitcherCastboxGoogle PodcastsAmazon Music, or your favorite podcast platform.



Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!