In a world where we can often feel hard done by, the feeling of victimisation can lead us into a negative spiral. Here’s how to beat it
Many of us are guilty of having a moan about things every now and then. Life is busy and maybe we don’t get time to sit down and relax the way we want to. Maybe other people seem to have happier lives than us, have more success than us, or have things a little easier than us.
For some of us though, we like to dwell in the mindset that for some reason, we were born under a wrong star, or that we’re somehow getting the short straw more often than others. The fact of the matter is that yes, life is unfair. And some of us get more bad luck than others. This can lead us to fall into the mindset that we are somehow a victim of circumstance.
There are, of course, real victims in this world. They are the ones who through no fault of their own, are caught up in the most awful situations, often not being able to escape or make the change they desperately need.
For the majority of us though, we like to think of ourselves as victims for less – because there’s a long queue in the Post Office when you’re in a rush; when they’ve sold out of your favourite wine.
We tend to take things so personally that we begin to think that the world is out to get us when in fact, the world is not even thinking about you. They’re more interested in themselves.
The world isn’t out to get you. You are one of billions of people in this world who are all trying to achieve something. The hard truth is that you’re only a victim of your own mind. And here’s how to change that mindset for the better.
Recognise the martyrdom
Before you can start on fixing yourself, you first need to recognise the martyrdom that’s causing the victim mindset.
When something doesn’t go the way you wanted it to, become aware of the feelings that this has caused. Is it the event that has caused these feelings or is it your reaction to it? When that motorist cut you up, were they doing it because they know you personally and wanted to hurt you, or was it because they were unsure about which lane they should have been in?
Keep asking yourself these kinds of questions and then ask yourself whether you are going to continue giving permission for these life events to hurt you. Are you able to stop these life events from happening, just to protect your feelings? Very unlikely. The next best thing in that case is to change your reaction to them, accepting that they happen – to all of us, not just you. And when you start moaning about life, try and listen to yourself objectively.
Many of the things that challenge us in life can be traced back to our own decisions. And while it’s easy to blame some of our circumstances on others, the fact is that until we start taking accountability for our own decisions and actions, nothing will ever change for the better because as far as you’re concerned, you’re at the behest of life and its path.
Taking responsibility is therefore fundamental to improving your mental health and to overcoming the victim mentality. We can start by accepting our own mistakes and failings, and not trying to pass the blame onto someone else.
Next, we can stop making excuses. That’s the easy way out. Making excuses doesn’t do yourself any favours – in fact, it can come back to bite you on the backside.
Another way to take responsibility is to accept the fact that negative emotions are inevitable and a part of life. When we are faced with challenging circumstances, aim not to react immediately; try and avoid jumping into defensive mode and approach the problem with a calm, open mind.
All of this doesn’t mean that you have to be harsh on yourself. Show yourself the same compassion that you would with a good friend. Be accountable but treat yourself with kindness too.
Forgive yourself and others
As we travel through life, others let us know how they view us. Teachers, family members, friends – they all put labels on us and very often, these can be harming if we start believing them.
Constructive feedback is one thing but when people start judging us and labelling without the full context of facts, we can start believing the things they tell us. We’re stupid, we’re lazy, we’re clumsy. “What’s wrong with you?” makes us think we have something seriously wrong. The more they tell us, the more we believe it.
So take a step back. Are their views based on a full understanding? Probably not. In that case, forgive them. Forgive yourself too for past mistakes. We all make them.
Choose to be a victor
William Ernest Henley, in his famous poem Invictus, wrote:
“I am the master of my destiny, I am the captain of my soul.”
If you are able to understand that so much of your life is within your hands and capabilities, you’ll soon be able to realise that despite the challenges that are thrown at us, you are in charge. You can change things. It’s all there waiting for you.
Realising that you are a victor, and not a victim, is the first step to achieving freedom of the mind. The power to have the life you want is within you. You can be a victor. Adopt that mindset.
People who have succeeded in life have found that belief within themselves.
Action is the step that takes us out of our comfort zone. But whether you like it or not, it is also the key that unlocks our fears, develops us as a person, and makes us feel more in control of our lives. It also helps us feel less of a victim, and more of a victor.
If there’s something specific that you’d like to do or change in your life, speak to someone who’s already been there and done it. Most people are more than willing to share their expertise and experience to help you on your way. There is no shame in seeking out assistance. Unhappy with your job? Find out what you’d rather do instead. Speak to people in that industry. Don’t be afraid to start from the very beginning – everyone has been in that position before.
Leaning into the fear and doing it anyway is how those who succeed in life get to where they are. They do it scared and until you can start doing that, nothing in your life will change.
Putting off the action means that your fear of making it will grow, making it harder to achieve. It will also mean that another day has gone by where you could have made some progress towards happiness. Instead, you’re happy to stay within your comfort zone and to blame others for your lack of progress.
The time to take action is now, even if that means doing an element of planning for the changes you want to make.
Ultimately, the results of your life are a product of the thoughts you think, the decisions you make, and the actions you take.