Victim mentality is a learned behaviour which gradually becomes a coping mechanism to survive pain, fear and to recover one’s basic emotional needs of security, love, sense of belonging, and self-worth.
We may have this script running in our minds from age zero or more, as for me, The best I can remember was at age nine to be specific, I am sure, it started quite earlier, but this instance came vivid; when I was taken to the Boarding House for my College education, I found out that it was easier to say I was ill and get away from the corporal punishment given to us by our seniors, at a point I was called “that Miserable Junior” I never bothered because I was excused from so many things , it was my secret ,I may have be quite delicate ,for instance the cutlass will always leave me with horrible blisters in my palms after cutting a little portion of grass for sleeping during preps or making noise in the class and many more naughty things and I was also prone to tears but I could do most of the things they assumed I couldn’t do, so I took advantage of their ignorance and survived most things.
I remember, one Sunday, I told one dreadful senior who wanted to punish me for not being on my bed for siesta, that I had a pain on my stomach from birth, yes it was true ,above my belly button, I had this mild protrusion, but it wasn’t painful, but it looked scary enough to get pity out of them, I exaggerated the pains just to justify why I wasn’t looking neat that afternoon, my blue slippers picked every dust from the Benue Harmattan weather ,the oily Vaseline on my feet was magnetic and I told them they had to tie my stomach and pull me so as to calm my pain, they did that, a little too much but I couldn’t complain, I looked to miserable to be seen as a mischief princess so I played along with the pain I didn’t plan for… and they fed me well with their corn flakes and cabin biscuit so I will be fine ,placed me on a bed and left for preps in their classes, I had to sneak out at night, I ran out of a script, besides the attention was getting too much… you see, there is burden of creating new excuses and exaggerating the trivial ones to gain sympathy and avoid responsibility. I grew up with some of this things still stuck to my skin. But then when it became obvious that I was gradually becoming an object of sympathy, and moving in circles laced with excuses, I became more of a stumbling block to people with my extensive list of sad tales and explanations for failing on some tasks, I needed to change so I started working towards this change. I am not a finished product …So far so good.
Most people don’t want to be around a downer, if this goes on, the person may be seen as a manipulator, and most times such a person is not even aware.
People may likely slide into this mode of having a victim mentality when they have serial of ill-fated incidences trailing their lives, they may be tempted to view themselves as victims in each one of the story they are featured in, even in situations where they are clearly the villains, such people may try to categorise or cast themselves as the sufferers at all cost.
As purposeful humans, we have some decisions to make at every turn in life and these choices are most times left for us to decide, either to give up on yourself in a fight and say “my case is always different, I am always the loser” or to stand up and rewrite your life script as the victor in whatever story you are featured in “we will overcome, even in this difficulty”.
Last year I tried to be a bit intentional in taking the victor route, I was able to resolve some grim situations that ordinarily I would have just relaxed and viewed it as my life…saying “that’s how my life always goes…downhill”. Once upon a time, I always expected the Negative, it was like a script running in my mind with Defeat expectancy and of course the expectations weren’t cut short…always!
Victim mentality is a learned personality trait in which a person feels incapable and powerless to handle or take action in tough situations.
The good news is that…whatever is learned can be unlearned.
Victim mentality may show itself in this ways beneath;
• Always trying to tell their sad stories so as to gain sympathy and as an excuse for any inappropriate or irresponsible behaviour.
• When people validate them with remarks like these “How did you cope with this? And I am so sorry, it must have been tough on you” it feels good to their ears.
• When it feels good to have somebody gaze at them with sympathetic eyes and gives them a favour for their sad and exaggerated excuses.
• It is simply the habit of feeling and behaving like a victim.
• Viewing others as happier, viewing self as “poor me”.
• Blaming others and not taking responsibilities for their actions.
• Always self-absorbed, like they are the new sun…
• Being afraid to take risks with the belief that the outcome can only be negative.
• Blaming current issues on past issues all the time
• Depression, low self-esteem, self-blame, low confidence and many more negatives may push out their ugly heads too.
I am not trying to trivialize or underestimate the bitter things we must have gone through while growing up but when this script runs on and on and it stops us from living the life we want, we may need to start working on our selves rather than using these things to hinder our progress in life.
There is a huge need to change our thoughts and start viewing ourselves as victors no matter the situation, it’s with this that we may be able to get up and resolve the situations and if it can’t be resolved, it will give us a positive approach all the same. The mind has a way of following patterns and our lives have the tendencies of pushing us to the down side of life according to our thoughts, someone once said, thoughts are things, and we may have to start changing our lives and the incidences in our lives by changing our thoughts. Our views reflect in our appearances, how we see things and how we interpret things around us.
It’s not going to go away with the wave of the hand. It’s going to take some time to unlearn this but I assure you, it’s a beautiful and exhilarating journey, its freeing to make decisions and watch them blossom in our lives.
• It starts with acknowledging that we have this victim mentality from the traits above or more and making a decision to change.
• Forgiving the hurts and those who were instrumental to these pains in our past.
• Forgiving ourselves for the wrong turns we made in life even for the informed and ignorant decisions.
• To be proactive and not reactive, you may like to read “8th Habits of highly effective people” by Steve Covey, that’s if you haven’t read, so as to appreciate this point, let’s take responsibility and create our future.
• Counting the beautiful things in our lives, writing them down and being grateful for them, I took someone’s advice, I have this flowery vase, I write all the beautiful things, drop them in it and read it on a cloudy day… when we are so down and we are tempted to forget these lovely happenings, we can pick them up and read it to ourselves.
• Praying, as for me, prayer helps me shift focus to God and his grand purpose in my life. You should try too.
• Focusing on the good and positive things in life work well.
• We should stop hiding under excuses and giving power to everyone and everything except us.
• Focusing on others, let us try and not be self-absorbed, I know some people are like cactus and the porcupine sometimes…hehehe, me at times …nevertheless lets improve on caring for others.
• The last but not the least…lets be gentle on ourselves as we improve, some days we may slip but let’s keep at it, don’t give up on yourself…I won’t give up too.
We are not what happened to us, the sooner this sinks in the better, may we not be the prey of our victim stories.
If you have ever had experiences with victim mentality either yourself or with someone close to you, kindly share
How have you controlled it? Please, share your views in the comments.
Featured image pinned from Pinterest.