I realize how frustrating living with, working with, or simply being around a self-proclaimed victim can be. I have dealt with my fair share of those struggling with victim complexes, but the important thing to remember here is that these people are genuinely suffering as a result of their mindset.
These people genuinely believe that they are helpless and are at the complete mercy of other people and life. This learned helplessness is not developed as a way of manipulating you (although it can be used that way), it was developed as a result of early life abuse.
So it’s important that we show compassion to the people in our lives suffering from victim complexes, without of course enabling their warped self-perception.
How to Deal With Self-Proclaimed Victims
So the question now is, how can you deal with victims without hurting them?
Handling those who struggle with the victim complex can be tricky, particularly because direct confrontation only reinforces their sense of being persecuted. Here are some tips that might help you:
1. Don’t get sucked into their feelings
Remember that victims are unconsciously seeking attention and validation. However, when you grant what they want, you will become emotionally entangled with them, which is bad for both you and them.
Try to be a passive listener, without actively involving yourself in their pity party. Remember that they will look to you for sympathy as a way of reinforcing their victim mentality, but don’t give it to them. Simply remain neutral, unless you decide to practice point 3 (below).
2. Make it their problem
Victim complex sufferers will always find a way to pin blame and responsibility onto another person as a way of bypassing self-responsibility. They will also try to get you to agree with them to bolster their sense of feeling “right.” Instead of agreeing, express how much confidence you have in their ability to handle the situation as mature adults.
3. Agree wholeheartedly
This practice uses a little bit of reverse psychology: go along with their resistance completely so that you completely blow the problem out of proportion. So if the victim is saying how terrible their life is at the moment, agree with them: life truly is awful and horrendous for them. This tactic can cause the victim to change their tune, saying, “well I guess life isn’t that bad …”
4. Don’t give advice
The truth is that victims don’t want to solve their problems, because that would undermine their sense of being victimized! Therefore giving advice to them is equivalent to speaking to a wall: you’re wasting your breath. When victims seek “advice and counsel” what they’re really wanting is evidence that you care. This is the sad thing about victims: they confuse pity with love.
Try practicing these pieces of advice and you’ll find that the victim either starts taking responsibility for their life or seeks sympathy elsewhere. Either way, you won’t have to be the victim’s “victim” anymore.
Finally, don’t forget that a victim complex is a form of mental illness. Keep an open and compassionate heart, but don’t be an enabler.
The victim mentality and victim complex are truly insidious and destructive forms of behavior – they taint friendships, ruin relationships, and destroy your self-esteem. But through applying the advice in this article, hopefully, you will feel inspired and empowered rather than victimized by what is happening to you.
Do you struggle with the victim mentality? Or perhaps you have a loved one or colleague who suffers from the victim complex. Feel free to share and vent below!