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Identifying a Victim Mentality

It's easy to play the victim, especially when things don't go our way. Sometimes it feels like there is a black cloud following us around, wreaking havoc and causing injustice at every turn, and we just don't know how to deal with it. We get angry and upset and need an answer!

Why? Why does this always happen to me?

Believing you're always the victim is a form of denial. The reasons are many, but at the center of it all is the inclination to deny responsibility for a situation or circumstance; we, therefore, end up projecting it onto others or external events to escape the truth. The worst part about it is that we believe the lies we tell ourselves and others.

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The Victim Mentality

Below are a few of the most common ways to identify a victim mentality.

Avoidance of Responsibility – There is always someone at fault when something happens, and it certainly isn't you. You might miss a deadline at work, or maybe you were late picking up your child from ballet practice. No matter the situation, there is always someone or something else to blame.

Overly Critical of Others – When we point out flaws, or even our narrow-minded perception of flaws, in others, it is a way to deflect attention that might be placed on us. If you feel the need to persecute others, there's a grave chance you are making sure people notice that, instead of your own flaws or insecurities.

Easily Cut People Off – When people play the victim, it's natural for them to cut out those people who can see through it. Ending a relationship or quitting a job is much easier than admitting we might have something to fix in ourselves. If those people are eliminated, so are the issues. Right?

Hold Grudges – What better way to prove we are right and someone else is wrong than by bringing up the past? This behavior pattern in a victim mentality is powerful. It's a weapon of choice, and there are plenty of these grievances in the memory arsenal from which to choose.

After all, hasn't almost everyone done you wrong at some time, in one way or another?

If those sound like things you've done or said, you're probably also very familiar with the benefits of playing the perpetual victim –

  • You rarely have to take responsibility for anything.
  • You are always the center of attention in the little world you have created, because you've made villains out of everyone else.
  • People don't really criticize you, probably because they don't want to upset you. It will end up being their fault anyway.
  • There's never a lack of drama in your life, so you are rarely bored.
  • You feel relevant and interesting, especially when people are buying your version of the truth about the cruel, cruel world.

Do you see a pattern here? This is all about power. Or a lack thereof, actually. The victim feels powerless. Powerless over their own life, over circumstances and over the future. Externalizing the causes and reasons for your circumstances absolves you of responsibility for having to change, or to move beyond your comfort zone.

Of course, you may recognize some or all of the above signs in other people. However, it is a common human trait to see our own faults in others and be blind to them in ourselves.

This is especially true if you are suffering from a victim mentality, as it another way of transferring the problem to another source as a way to avoid having to look within.

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