Stop playing the victim!Rick Selover
Hey, what’s up everybody? Welcome back to another episode of The Mindwrench Podcast, I am your host Rick Selover, thank you so much for tuning in & spending a few minutes with me today.
I think we all know at least ONE person, more often it’s several people in our lives, that when something in their world goes wrong, something doesn’t work out the way they planned or goes completely kittywampus… from something very small like a friend or coworker was talking a little smack about them behind their back, or one of their kids scraped the fender on their car in the garage with his bike or maybe something a little bigger, like they had a major appliance break, caught a bad cold or flu and had to miss work for a week, or was rear-ended at a stoplight… or even possibly something really bad, or traumatic happened… they lost their job, had a flood destroy their home, suffered a major medical event like heart attack, went through a divorce, totaled their car or lost a family member… they will always say, without fail, something like:
- “Stuff like this always happens to me…”
- “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I ’de have no luck at all…”
- “Great! what else is going to go wrong? …”
- “See, the world is conspiring against me… again!”
- “Why does God hate me?…”
They immediately take the position of defense against a world that’s “out to get them”, right?
Life is always giving them lemons…
These things always seem to happen to just me, not my neighbors or friends, just me…
There’s nothing I can do about it…
It’s out of my control…
Can’t you see??… I’m the VICTIM here!
This my friends, is a classic example of a “victim mindset” or a “victim mentality”.
Do you constantly feel as though you have no control over situations or that other people are out to get you? Or do you feel as though bad things keep happening to you no matter what you do? If you find yourself blaming other people for events or situations in your life, you may be struggling with the same thing… a victim mentality, or a victim mindset.
In my 40+ years being part of the collision industry, both in bodyshops and the distribution world, I’ve seen many displays of the “victim mindset” or a “victim mentality”. I have seen it at every level of income and responsibility, from CEO or owner to porter or delivery driver.
Whether it’s the shop owner complaining how the evil insurance adjuster is screwing them over again & not paying them for the work they do,
or the whiny technician that’s bitching (year after year) that he never gets enough hours and can’t make any money,
or the jobber rep that can’t find any good prospects because all the “good shops” are buying from so-and-so (really?),
to the bodyshop customer (with a very popular, late- model SUV) that is boiling mad that her car won’t be ready to pick-up tomorrow because the “stupid shop” can’t seem to find a part that’s been on National back-order for 2 months from the manufacturer… they all have the same disease… a “victim mentality” or a “victim mindset”.
- Why me?
- This is just not fair…
- I certainly can’t do anything about this… it’s not my fault!
- Well, somebody better do something!
Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?… I hear these things almost daily!!
Those with a victim mindset usually hold these 5 key beliefs:
- Bad things have happened in the past and will continue to happen to me.
- Others are to blame for my misfortunes.
- There is no point in trying to make a change because it will not work.
- Nobody cares about me or what has happened to me.
- I have no choice about what happens to me.
Now, I must confess, as positive a person as I am now, in the past… I’ve been guilty of thinking, talking & acting the same way at times in my own life… and if we’re being 100% honest with ourselves… I would bet everyone listening right now has too, right?
The real truth is that life will never, ever, ever, stop giving us challenges, and if you feel as though nothing you do makes any differences, you are completely helpless and unable to do anything about these challenges, then you’ll be climbing an uphill battle the rest of your life.
The good news is that this is not an inherited trait; rather, you’ve learned to behave in this way. At one time you were likely a victim, but you don’t have to continue on being a victim.
Learned behaviors can be unlearned too!
A victim mindset convinces you that “life happens TO you”.
My favorite quote from Tony Robbins (and a few others) is:
“Life happens FOR us, and not TO us”
Simply said, when life throws obstacles in our way, they are always there for a learning opportunity… life teaches us lessons along the way, right?
Not every lesson in life is easy, is it?… NOPE … not at all, if fact the harder or more painful the lesson, the greater impact it can have on us… the more wisdom we end up gaining.
For example, when we are kids & first learning how to ride a bike, we fall several times, cut our knees, scrap our arms, bleed some, cry some… but we don’t have that victim mindset yet (we haven’t learned that useless skill yet!)… we don’t think “why does this keep happening to me?”.. NO… we just keep getting back on the bike & eventually we learn balance. If you have kids, you know that look of pure joy on your kids face, when that bike makes it all the way down the street & back, right??
It wasn’t the stupid bikes’ fault, or that dumb old streets’ fault we kept falling, NO.. it was our fault, until we learned how to balance.
Life happens FOR us….
Or maybe we got into some credit card debt when we were a little younger, and a little less wiser, and paying for things with that card was so easy, right?… but speaking from experience, when you have to bite the bullet & painfully dig yourself out of debt, because paying the “minimum” balance only drives you deeper in the hole, and you have to survive on PB&J sandwiches or mac-n-cheese for a long time (while your friends are out partying it up), you finally learn how to manage your money & spend wisely, it makes a huge difference in your financial life.
Life happens FOR us…. Not TO us!
Like with every other behavior pattern there are some very obvious signs you may see in someone you work with, live with or even in yourself, and recognizing these signs could be your first step in adjusting how you may interact with this person, knowing what you can or can’t help them with, or realizing you may need to make some changes in your own way of thinking!
So, what are some signs we can look for, of a victim mindset or victim mentality? If you aren’t sure whether you or someone close to you, are struggling with a victim mindset, here’s a sampling of some potential signs to look for:
- You blame other people for how your life’s going
- You feel as though everything is stacked against you
- When someone tries to help you, you lash out in anger
- When you feel sorry for yourself, it makes you feel a bit better
- You tend to hang out with other people who also like to complain and blame other people
- You find it hard to make changes in your life
- You lack self-confidence or have low self-esteem
- You want the people who have done you wrong to recognize what they did
- You lack empathy for other people’s problems
- You think that the world is an unfair place
- You are hypervigilant to bad things that might happen
- You are not emotionally available to other people
- You feel as though failing is permanent
- You have a constant feeling of helplessness
- You always feel as though other people are better off in life than you
- You have trouble coping with setbacks
Also, are there certain attitudes that go along with a victim mentality?
Absolutely! … here are just a few of those common attitudes to watch out for:
- Being unwilling to take risks
- Feeling overly pessimistic about your future
- Feelings of repressed anger
- Feeling as though you are entitled to sympathy from others
- Feeling defensive no matter what other people say
- Feeling as though there is no point in looking for solutions
- Exaggerating the risks of situations or how bad they could turn out
- A feeling of learned helplessness
Now as I talk about and think through some of the aspects of this mindset or mentality, I wonder why anyone would choose to be like this… to think this way… to adopt this mindset in the first place… why would any person want to look at their life this way??… surely, there isn’t any benefit to this, right?… or… is there?
Hmmmm… let’s think about that for a second? … yes… yes, there ARE some benefits indeed… actually quite a few… let me run through of a few on those for you:
BENEFITS OF A VICTIM MINDSET
- It allows you to not have to take responsibility for your life
- Other people will try to help you and solve your problems for you
- Being a continuing victim makes you feel like others value you
- It’s become a way of survival or a habit that you can’t unlearn
- You’re afraid to face the anger, shame, fear, or sadness that is underlying your victim mindset
- It helped you get through a really hard time and now it’s just a habit
- If people think you are struggling then they won’t criticize you
- It helps you to avoid conflict with others
- You are more likely to get what you want in situations
- There are fewer expectations of you if everyone knows you are struggling
- People will not burden you with their problems if you already have a lot of your own
- You have an influence on people when you play the victim
- It forces other people to take care of you, to do things FOR you
As you can see, there are lots of reasons to be a victim, plenty of benefits to continue to view yourself as a “victim”.
While the feeling of not having to take responsibility for your life, lowering the number of expectations others may have of you, or having others try to solve your problems for you may seem appealing… playing the victim is most definitely NOT the preferred way to go through life. Giving your power to others, not taking control of your own future and blaming everyone else in the world for your problems, is not positive, productive or practical!
So now what?… what can you do to change? … how do you get yourself into a better frame of mind?
Ways to Stop a Victim Mentality
Here’s a few tips to get you moving in the right direction:
- Choose to either leave situations or accept them
- Speak up/ Speak out to reclaim your power to change a situation
- Forgive yourself or others who have harmed you (do not accept but rather forgive)
- Find help from a therapist who can help you process past trauma
- Take responsibility for what you can control in a life situation and how you react
- Take control over who you spend time with
- Engage in self-care to treat yourself better and with kindness
- Engage in self-love and seeing yourself as a worthwhile person
- Write out your misfortunes to release bad feelings (the process of writing it down helps your brain to let go of the thoughts/ feelings)
- Start to say no to things that don’t align with your values or what you want for your life
- Make yourself a priority and take care of how much energy you expend
- Identify personal goals that you can work towards
- Figure out how to get the same benefits you have been getting with a victim mindset (e.g., self-care)
- Practice gratitude for what you already have in your life
Now while I realize that listening to one short podcast, or reading an article on “victim mentality or victim mindset” may not change your way of thinking overnight, nor will it empower you to better handle those around you that are affected by that mindset, but my hopes are that it does just a couple things:
- It helps you recognize what playing the victim looks like, sounds & feels like
- Brings an awareness to what some features & benefits of a victim mentality are
- Provides a little info, direction & actionable steps on how to start moving yourself out of that non-productive mindset
- Arms you with some useful tactics to be able to deal with others in your life that may suffer from this disease, without feeling totally helpless!
While this may not change the fact that insurance adjuster will try to pay as little as possible, but you DO have the power to write a better sheet & back it up with documentation.
It won’t automatically give that whiny tech more hours, but it may help him understand that he could learn some new skills, or be more productive and get a few more jobs through his stalls each week, thus increasing his take-home pay.
That jobber rep won’t magically have new accounts land in his lap, but he may decide with some self-development training, gaining some new skills and building a little more confidence, he can go after and gain new business, regardless of the competition.
Now as far as that very upset SUV owner that wants to pick her car up tomorrow… I really can’t help you with that, because that back-ordered part may STILL take another 2 months before you see it!… I mean, it’s on National back order, right?
She’s going to be mad for a long damn time!