The Poisonous Victim Mentality

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Onay Davus

“Why me?”

I asked the all-too familiar question followed by a bit of wallowing. I shuffled around the house, feeling sorry for myself, blaming my problems on anyone and everyone. It was my parents, my boss, my terrible circumstances—all of it made a list letting me off the hook.

For years, I struggled with this mentality. Everything bad always happened to me and it was never my fault. I stacked a long line of people to take the fall for my failure, for my actions, to ensure I wasn’t the one to blame.

But then, a dear friend pointed out my poisonous thinking. She assured me that while the things I endured were hard, the pain blistering at times, I needed to stop blaming others and take responsibility for my life. I remember her using the phrase, “victim mentality” and those words pinned me to the wall. I felt helplessly exposed.

She told me if I didn’t learn to embrace the past and fight for the future, then I would forever be defined by what happened to me.

Some of my problems were because of other’s actions. But I was allowing my past to define my future. I couldn’t take my eyes of my hardships long enough to gaze at the beauty of life. The enormous, nearly swollen joy of the promised future.

She taught me a simple truth that I try to repeat often. Allowing my past to define my future is a far greater tragedy than anything that’s ever happened me.

Now, when adversity strikes, I don’t ask ‘why me?” My question is: “why not me? How will I use glorify God in the midst of this?”

I am responsible for how I respond to adversity, to my past, and to my future.

Andy Andrews writes on how to overcome this victim mentality brilliantly in The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success:

“Never again will I blame my parents, my spouse, my boss, or other employers for my present situation. Neither my education, nor lack of one, my genetics or the circumstantial ebb and flow of everyday life will affect my future in a negative way.

The buck stops here. I accept responsibility for my past. I am responsible for my success.

I am where I am today—mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially because of decisions I have made.

In the future, when I am tempted to ask the question, “why me?” I will immediately counter with the answer, “why not me?” Challenges are gifts, opportunities to learn.

Adversity is preparation for greatness. I will accept this preparation.”

You are not a victim. I am not a victim. We have a choice how we respond to hardship; we can choose to carve out a better future.

Do you struggle with a victim mentality? Will you accept adversity as preparation for greatness? 

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7 Responses to “The Poisonous Victim Mentality”
  1. Micaela says:

    So glad you wrote this! I think of this often and just this weekend have noticed myself slipping back into it. It takes constantly checking our hearts and owning our lives.

  2. k says:

    hi ruthie,
    I took a test last year that pointed out that i had a very strong victim mentality. that baffles me because others were ‘wronging’ me, often and for years- many people and many circumstances. so it kind of sent me into confusion. However i did modify some of my thinking- I knew what i thought about others doing wrong to me was still in my control. i didnt know the verse til i read another blog today. Philippians 1;27 ‘whatever happens conduct yourselves worthy of the gospel’
    but that thought was in my mind since my so called diagnosis. I started thinking that I could let my walls down but still protect myself- odd, but I knew God wanted me to relate to people- I cant do that with walls. Well interestingly I can love people and be wise at the same time.. It is not as impossible as it sounds but a very hard habit to break and VERY scary and requires a lot of work. my trust is in the Lord and he gives me strength and wisdom to be strong while being open.
    This victim mentality has blocked my growth and life for so long- and I am wanting God to lead me out of that wilderness- as it really is a confusing place to be – why does that keep happening to the same people over and over? and the harm is real- so how do you stop it ? I found out that what seems sensible [isolation] doesnt work. but it isnt something to go into without help- and you have to drop down some of the walls to get help.
    it really is a difficult concept.

  3. Jessie says:

    Do you know what that test was called? Or where to access it?

  4. Jessie says:

    Do you remember what that test you took was called? Or where to access it?

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