Do you know someone who always feels sorry for themselves? Someone who feels that everyone is against them, and they're all alone against the world? Do they hold grudges they cannot let go of or move on with their life? Are they always critical of others? They have the classic symptoms of a person playing the victim card.
You may have a family member, friend, or coworker who display this victim behavior. It's difficult to deal with these people. They are full of negativity, and it's toxic to be around them. You would prefer not to be around them, but circumstances often mean there's no choice but to learn to live with them. When you find yourself in their company, how do you deal with them?
Know How They Act
Playing the victim card is also known as victim playing. There are several reasons why people act this way –
- To gain favor or material things.
- As an ego trip, to seek attention, or to be popular.
- To justify their abusive behavior.
- To cover-up personality flaws or insecurities and faults.
- As a power play, to exercise power over another person.
You need to be careful with people playing the victim card because they are often cunning manipulators. If you are oblivious to their games, you will be one of the ones they are going to take advantage of. They may portray themselves as someone who is deprived, underprivileged, and pitiful to gain sympathy, compassion, and support.
They often take advantage of kind-hearted and caring people who cannot stand to see and hear of the suffering of others. This is because less caring (or more skeptical) people are aware enough to disregard their ploy, whereas more sensitive types refrain from hurting their feelings.
Those who do play the victim role are great actors and actresses. They think that life is a big drama, and they are on the center stage, taking the lead role. Unfortunately, the results can go beyond being a performance. It can easily end up with you feeling manipulated or taken advantage of, at the very least time-wise.
These people know how to play on your conscience because it has become a habit. If you don't give in to what they want, you'll be made to feel as if you're being mean. They generally ‘ask' with an attitude of expectation and if they do not evoke the right response, they may become aggressive and obnoxious.
They believe they deserve what you have without working as you have, or making the sacrifices you did for it. They want to enjoy what you enjoy without putting in any effort. They have a sense of entitlement and feel that it's your (or somebody's) responsibility to cater to their whims.
When you are aware of just how much they can disrupt your life, you need to keep them at arm's length as much as possible.
Unlock Your Full Potential: Explore our Personal Development Checklists
How to Deal with Them
When you need to deal with someone you think could be playing the victim, read the signs and symptoms. You don't have to ignore them but steer away from compromising or committing yourself. Listen to them (if you have the patience and time) and help to show them that there is a solution to every problem. Point out the positive actions they can take.
Don't give in to your impulse of giving them time or resources just to make them go away and stop bothering you. It's not a solution, for they will keep coming back. Let them understand that first they need to help themselves, and you're there to lend your ear as family or friend. Whatever their problem is, don't make it your problem, or let it become yours.
Filter your emotions. Being protective of your time and resources does not make you a selfish person. Emotional blackmail is part of the game. Be polite, but firm, and refuse to be manipulated. Applying some hard love, even if it is against your nature, is necessary to prevent forming a habit of dependency that will be harder and harder to break.
Limit your associations with them. Keep your distance, but don't close your door to them. Sometimes playing a victim is also a cry for help. Balance is required, between being reasonable and charitable versus feeling used.
Avoid Playing the Victim Yourself
After learning the behavior of the people playing the victim card, you can take a lesson from them. Don't play the victim yourself. A victim mentality is acquired or learned and can develop into a personality flaw. It is an intentional action to manipulate and deceive others. Can you be truly happy if you're not true to yourself and your family and friends?
Take responsibility for what you have done. Own up your mistakes and shortcomings. You're the one who is in charge of your life. As much as possible, don't totally rely on other people. Whatever you want from life, work for it. You will experience more happiness and self-satisfaction when you have achievements and accomplishments as a result of your own efforts.