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SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim explains what a victim mentality might look like and offers suggestions on how to repair that perspective.
A victim mentality (as I define it) is a tendency toward functioning in a loss state, meaning that you generally feel mistreated, hurt, taken from or that you aren't getting the life, situation, treatment or help that you wanted or think you deserve. People who function in this loss state may have a tendency to see mistreatment, offenses, or wrongdoing in almost every situation — whether it's really there or not. These people may subconsciously be wearing "mistreatment glasses" that filter their perspective to see themselves in a victim state most of the time.
After 16 years working in personal development, it's been my observation that we are all either slightly fear of failure dominant or we are fear of loss dominant. Fear of loss dominant people may be more prone to having a victim mentality, although this is something we should all watch out for. The behaviors a victim mentality can create can be damaging to relationships and the respect others have for you.
Identifying a victim mentality in yourself may be difficult because, from your perspective, it may appear accurate that you are the victim in the situation. The problem is your perspective may be skewed from the mistreatment glasses. You may have to take a step back and ask yourself if there's another way to look at the situation that may help you see things differently.
To determine if you might have a victim mentality, answer the following questions:
- Do you often feel you carry a larger burden in life than others?
- Do you feel powerless to change the things in your life that you wish were different?
- Do you often feel resentful that others don’t do more to help you or that they don’t see how unfair things are for you?
- Do you tend to see the fault in troubled relationships as always due to others rather than yourself? Or do you tend to always see the fault as yours? (Neither is accurate. Relationship problems take two people.)
- Do you often feel that others don’t consider your feelings or that their actions are inconsiderate? Perhaps sometimes they are, but if you feel this way often, then you might be seeing offenses inaccurately.
- Do you generally see your life as difficult and usually unfair?
- Do you think others underestimate how hard you have it and do you sometimes resent them for their happiness and positivity?
While some seek those payoffs, there are also costs to a victim mentality:
- Others get weary of your complaining and start to tune it out. They may not want to feel bad for you all the time so they might also pull away from you.
- People may not appreciate the things you do for them if all you do is complain about the burden it is for you to do them. This may frustrate you but you can’t have both appreciation and a victim story. Decide which you want more.
- People may lose respect for you. You can be smart, strong, capable and respected or you can be a victim all the time, but you can’t have both.
- People might start to resent your self-pity. They might start setting boundaries to protect themselves from you.
- The negativity and being easily offended could wear on people too. They might avoid interacting with you if the chances of you being offended are always high. This could damage connection and trust in your relationships.
If you realize you might sometimes function from a victim space or a fear of loss state, know that you can fix this. Here are a few perspective suggestions for shifting your mindset to one that is more positive and powerful:
- Choose to trust that the universe is actually on your side and constantly working to serve, bless and educate you. This means every situation that presents itself is there for you for a positive reason. Trust that even the hard experiences are actually blessings in disguise working to make you a stronger, wiser and more loving person. When you choose to see the universe as for you, not against you, life may suddenly feel fair and perceived mistreatment may be a lesson to help you grow. You can’t dwell in self-pity about your situation if it's there to help you.
- Choose to trust that life will always deliver the perfect classroom journey for you. This means no one can ruin, short-change, or take from you. This perspective option pulls you out of the victim space and helps you show up strong and wise. It gives you the power to handle whatever life throws your way, which will earn the respect of others.
- Whenever you feel mistreated, ask yourself “Would I rather be a victim and show up weak, whiny and full of self-pity, or would I like to show up with maturity and strength, and earn the respect of others?" Choose to trust you have everything you need to rise in every situation and make it through or the universe wouldn’t be giving you this challenge. This perspective option makes you someone to look up to and not someone to feel sorry for.
Achieving this mindset might take some work and practice but that is exactly what we are here for: personal growth. Don’t expect perfection. You will see progress as you work on it. I promise it gets easier over time and is worth the effort.
You can do this.
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