Posted by: Judy | August 24, 2020

Sharing my sister’s post…

…over at PTSD – Accepting, Coping, Thriving on Victim Mentality:

I’ll share the same points but endeavor to share a different point.

I often worry I fall into Victim Mentality. After all, I was trained well by a master. Now that I think about it, I realize one of the purposes of this blog was to learn how to overcome that mentality.

1. They believe the World is against them – They give their power away without a fight. It’s easy for me to slide into rehearsing everything wrong in my life; I needed to learn where that came from. I did it so my mother wouldn’t pile on anything more. If she thought I was having a good day, she invariably found a way to add work and/or criticism. At the time, it was the only way I could figure out how to retain my power. Not a great way but the best I could do at the time. Blessedly, I’ve learned healthier ways to maintain my power. I have times in my life when I recite to myself that life is like “Lemony Snicket: A a series of unfortunate events.” This is not the same as being the ultimate victim. It is not the circumstances that determine how awful life is; it’s the mindset. I know people who have been through one tragedy after another, and yet they remain positive, upbeat, and focused on others rather than their problems. They don’t pretend life isn’t difficult; they accept responsibility for what is within their power to do. I’m grateful I’m learning to embrace this new mentality and leave the old one behind.

2. They don’t assume responsibility.  – This ties into the above problem. Why should they accept responsibility if the world is against them? On the other end are those who take responsibility for everything, which isn’t any better. Both mindsets are blatantly wrong. Those who refuse to accept responsibility want others to do the work. Even if they are right that the other person needs to change, the only person I can control is me. My wishing my mother would change accomplished nothing but frustration. The insidious thing is that it allowed me to be distracted from what I needed to change in myself. It became easier to change myself when I let go of wishing for change in others. My third counselor, in my late 40s, was the first one who taught me “Not my job. Not my responsibility.” Yes, I had to learn what was my responsibility and what belonged to someone else. Those stuck in victim mentality refuse to learn. Accepting responsibility for one’s self is uncomfortable and hard work. The victim mentality is focused on finding the Easy Button.

3. They exaggerate their problems.  – Like most problems, two sides exist. Too many people say, “It isn’t as bad as what so and so went through, so it isn’t that bad.” The world relishes false choices and comparisons. The ultimate victim wallows in comparison, which usually requires making bad things as bad as possible. Unfortunately, the exaggerators don’t recognize that the “little lies” violate trust. They don’t understand why people stop taking them seriously and abandon them. No one likes to go all in only to find out their everything was trivialized. I used exaggeration as a defense; I exaggerated somethings so I could trivialize other things. I made the not so bad stuff horrible and the horrible stuff not so bad; I was trying to balance my life. Only recently have I come to realize that both are lies. It was with my third counselor that I adopted Rule #1: Stop lying, especially to yourself. I had to stop exaggerating and trivializing.

4. They feel everything bad happens to them.  – Sometimes it feels like it, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. It is true that a lot of bad things happen. We live in a world with both good and evil. Evil is playing to win, even though it will lose in the end. Evil is a sore loser, so the adversary is working hard to make as many people as possible as miserable as he is. If someone is struggling with depression, it’s only worse. Telling someone to look on the bright side and just be positive isn’t helpful. I confess I do this, with others and myself. Working to change that. This comes back to whose responsibility is it to look at the world differently? The person looking at the world. Guilting and shaming definitely don’t help. Sometimes, all you can do is love someone, and I confess I’m not good at this; I am trying to learn.

5. They never apologize. – Why should they? It isn’t their fault (not taking responsibility) and their life is so miserably and everything that happens to them is horrible. What do they have to apologize for? That would just be one more awful thing. To them, no upside to apologizing exists. Beware of those who apologize to gain leverage. An apology does not include the word, in any form, “but.” Nor does it include an excuse or a reason. “I’m sorry.” A complete sentence but an incomplete apology. An apology requires more than words; it requires change. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” And then follow through. That requires work. The ultimate victim wants an easy button; an apology isn’t it.

6. They feel sorry for themselves. – Pity, poor me, my life is so miserable; it isn’t my fault; everyone hates me; no one loves me. They feel sorry for themselves but not enough to make any changes. It really is sad. I can offer empathy briefly, but I quickly lose patience. I don’t like it in others because I don’t like it in myself.

7. They believe life is flawed. – The astonishing thing is that they believe life shouldn’t be flawed, but for the occasional speed bump. If life isn’t running as they believe it ought, it isn’t their fault, the world hates them, nothing good happens to them, and they have nothing to apologize for. They’ve set themselves up to fail by creating this perfect picture of how life should be, completely ignoring the reality of living on an imperfect planet with a bunch of imperfect people. The quote made a huge difference in my perspective: “Life is hard. And then it gets harder. And then you die.” The ultimate victim is offended by this.

8 They’re spiteful people. – I know it’s difficult to comprehend if you are a compassionate person, but some people take pleasure in making others uncomfortable or unhappy. It’s easiest to accomplish this if past mistakes are regularly dredged up and imagined flaws are magnified and so what if a little lie here or there is required to make the whole drama juicier. They will do almost anything to maintain their narrative, including lie, cheat, steal, etc. In order to remain comfortable with their outlook, they must make others look bad. Sad.

We all possess these less than admirable qualities, to one degree or another. The adventure is learning to master myself, to learn to be a better person, to grow beyond the past mess. Let it go. Life will provide another mess to work through. Growth requires dirt and rain and sunshine. The challenge is to learn to embrace all the good and release all the bad.


  1. I certainly have had this mindset before, and still fall into a few of these traps. Thank God it isn’t ALL of them any more. God has helped me see that I am all these things if I want to be, or I can make the choice to be His child, and know that He will take care of any of my perceived victimization.

    • Learning to make stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Well done. 🙂

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