Playing the victim is also often used by abusive and/or sociopathic people who use this role to keep a tight emotional leash on those close to them.
For example, a narcissistic person might constantly put down their partner, then fixate on the one time their partner snapped and called them a “monster,” making it seem like they are in fact the “abused one.” Or a physically abusive person might use the excuse that they “always have to put up with the other person” as a reason for beating up their partner.
As we can see, the “poor me” attitude can be used on both sides of the human spectrum: both seemingly “normal” people and more extreme and dysfunctional psychopathic people. For example, in codependent relationships, self-victimization can be used by the enabler and the abuser, and sometimes both at the same time in a kind of power struggle.
There is no one “type” of person that fits into the victim role, so it’s wrong to say that only narcissists or sociopaths adopt this role. I have personally seen all types of people play this role: from sweet old grandmothers to teenagers, mothers, fathers, professionals, and even “spiritually awakened” people.
23 Signs of the Victim Mentality
Are you, or is someone you love, playing the victim? Here are some common signs to look out for:
- You’re constantly blaming other people or situations for feeling miserable
- You possess a “life is against me” philosophy
- You’re cynical or pessimistic
- You see your problems as catastrophes and blow them out of proportion
- You think others are purposely trying to hurt you
- You believe you’re the only one being targeted for mistreatment
- You keep reliving past painful memories that made you feel like a victim
- Even when things go right, you find something to complain about
- You refuse to consider other perspectives when talking about your problems
- You feel powerless and unable to cope effectively with a problem or life in general
- You feel attacked when you’re given constructive criticism
- You believe you’re not responsible for what happens in your life (others are)
- You believe that everyone is “better off” than you
- You seem to enjoy feeling sorry for yourself
- You attract people like you (who complain, blame, and feel victimized by life)
- You believe that the world is a scary, mostly bad, place
- You enjoy sharing your tragic stories with other people
- You have a habit of blaming, attacking, and accusing those you love for how you feel
- You feel powerless to change your circumstances
- You expect to gain sympathy from others, and when you don’t get it, you feel upset
- You refuse to analyze yourself or improve your life
- You tend to “one-up” people when it comes to sharing traumatic experiences
- You’re constantly putting yourself down
As we can see, the permanent sense of being a victim is deeply destructive both internally, and externally.
How to Stop Being a Victim
If you’re reading this article because you suspect that you might be clinging to a victim mentality, here are some tips that can help you step out of this toxic role:
1. Start replacing “you” with “I”
For example, instead of saying “you make me feel so angry,” you can replace that statement with, “I feel so angry when I hear you say that.” This simple trick can help you learn to take more self-responsibility for your happiness.
2. See yourself as a survivor
A victim argues with life, a survivor embraces it. A victim dwells in the past, a survivor lives in the present. A victim believes they’re helpless, a survivor takes back control over their life. Although the victim mentality is addictive, the survivor mentality is much more empowering in the long term.
Once you start seeing yourself as a survivor, you’ll begin to feel better about life and you’ll attract other people for the right reasons. Listening to a survivor is much more refreshing and inspiring than listening to a victim wallow in self-pity.
3. Be kind and compassionate towards yourself
In other words, be careful about becoming a victim of being a victim! This role isn’t something you choose: you developed it as a result of childhood conditioning. Be gentle with yourself and practice self-love.
Explore your core wounds and core beliefs that compound your victim identity, and replace self-loathing with self-compassion. If you’re struggling to get past the victim role, practice self-care by seeing a therapist. Experiment with practices such as journaling, affirmations, NLP, CBT, and other forms of self-love.
4. Explore your mistaken beliefs
Mistaken beliefs create anxiety, depression, anger, and blame. A lot of these beliefs are lodged in the shadow side of our psyche, and can only be explored through deep shadow work. You will probably be stunned by how many types of mistaken beliefs you have unknowingly adopted!