How a victim mentality blocks personal development


Some psychologists suggest that living the life of a victim is a way of avoiding responsibility, receiving attention, and avoiding true anger. People prone to feeling victimized tend to have low self-esteem, feel pessimistic about life and suffer from guilt, shame, guilt and self-pity, as explained by Professor Manfred Kets de Vries of the Insead Institute.

“Some of these individuals tend to catastrophize situations, which can lead to aggression or violence directed at their perceived perpetrators,” says de Vries.

“They may justify their immoral actions as punishment for the harm done to them or rationalize it by saying it’s to prevent a similar situation from happening again.”

Often, people with a victim mentality feel alienated and disillusioned with the world, believing that everyone is out to get them. They believe that the damage inflicted on them is undeserved and unjustified.

De Vries believes that it is possible to change the mindset from victim to empowerment. For this to happen, the affected individual must realize that the victim is self-sabotaging and a source of constant misery.

“From there, they might discover that they have the power to choose their answers, act on their problems and stop being a victim,” says the professor.

According to Psychology Today, people with a victim mentality want recognition. They want their sense of victimization to be seen and recognized. They have little empathy or concern for the suffering of others because they see their sacrifice as greater than the suffering of everyone else. This creates a tendency towards entitlement, that is, behaving selfishly towards others while ignoring their pain or experience.

Another important characteristic of the victim mentality is rumination. It is the tendency to remain fixated on times, ways and relationships in which they felt victimized or taken advantage of.

Some counselors believe that the victim mentality is “disempowering” and that each person has the power to change their life, but the initiative must come from within. dr. Steve Maraboli, author of Unapologetically You, argues that sacrifice blinds individuals to the blessings of the day, thus poisoning their minds.

“The truth is that if you don’t let go, if you don’t forgive yourself, if you don’t forgive the situation, if you don’t realize that the situation is over, you can’t move forward,” he advises in his book.


All this talk of moving on should in no way diminish the pain felt by legitimate victims of crime, trauma, domestic violence, financial loss and betrayal. For example, survivors of traumatic events may experience recurring memories of the incident, sleep disturbances, feelings of alienation, emotional numbness, and other anxiety-related symptoms. Crime victims also have to contend with society’s tendency to blame them for the crime, which exacerbates the trauma of the event.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists recognizes that people need time to recover from traumatic events. “Try not to put pressure on yourself to feel better right away,” reads part of an information sheet from the facility.

People recover and react to the same events in different ways. Try not to compare your recovery to someone else’s. If you feel you can support others who have been affected by the event, then that can be helpful too. Talking about the event and your feelings can help you be more resilient.

Professor De Vries from the Insead Institute suggests forgiveness as the first step out of victimhood. Forgiveness does not absolve the perpetrators of whatever they have done, but it gives individuals the strength to overcome the pain they have experienced.

“Wouldn’t it be much more constructive to build on those traumatic experiences to become a better person and create a more positive and hopeful attitude towards life?” – asks the professor.

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