How to Stop Playing the Victim - and Get Your Life Back

stop playing the victim

Struggling with a victim mentality? Read this article to learn the signs of victim mentality and what you can do to stop playing the victim.

For some of us, the world can seem like a scary place. It becomes difficult to trust others or feel that the people out there can mean well. We feel trapped in our never-ending problems, and no one seems to give a heck for us. 

If that sounds familiar, it’s time to step back and reassess your mindset. You might be a victim of a “victim mentality”.

What is Victim Mentality? 

Victim mentality is a flawed mindset born in reaction to perceived mistreatment by others. 

You feel you have been wronged and need justice.

Moreover, you start to identify yourself as a powerless and helpless person who has no control over his life.

Your sufferings become the focus of your world — a world where you stand alone, injured, and without any hope to recover.

Many of us are not even aware of this change in our mindset, and unfortunately, it can last with us for long, sometimes, a lifetime.

How is Victim Mentality Formed?

Causes of Victim Mentality:

The world is not the same for everyone; this is a simple fact of life.

Some of us have to endure more pain than others. 

We lose our loved ones unexpectedly. 

The romantic partner breaks up a relationship, shattering all your dreams, leaving you insecure and unstable; the best friends betray.

You get fired from your job. 

You get an unexpected medical diagnosis that threatens your life.

Maybe you had to go through abuse in your childhood or later in life.

There are bad things which happen to us, without our fault or contribution. It’s not under our control.

Feelings of anger, resentment, a need for retribution or apology, and hopelessness begin to surface due to the pain.

These feelings are natural to arise, but if you hang on to them for long and wallow in self-pity, it can hurt your well-being. It’s not long that you start playing the victim unconsciously.

How does Victim Mentality Harm Your Life?

A victim mentality can make you passive and unable to get your life together.

Your thoughts and feelings indeed affect your behaviour. If you let yourself wait to pick yourself up just because others didn’t give you the apology or justice you sought, you might find yourself deep in a rabbit hole.

Sympathy and attention from others may give you only brief respite. In the longer duration, the need to feel comforted and consoled by others may backfire. It will only prolong your feelings of being a victim.

You won’t feel like taking any responsibilities because you can always justify that with the hard times. This passiveness will only contribute to your feelings of powerlessness and unworthiness.

What are the Signs of People With A Victim Mentality?

Are you looking for a “Do I have a victim mentality quiz”? Here you go. Signs You have a victim mentality:

1. They Hold on to the Grudges

It’s not easy to let go of the feelings of resentment, anger and pain against the person who has wronged them. 

In the absence of justice or an apology, these feelings fester into an all-engulfing monster that can consume your peace of mind. It becomes tough to feel good.

People with victim mentality struggle with forgiving their offenders, which adds to their misery.

Read: How to Let Go of Grudges and Bitterness

2. They See Negativity Everywhere

Of course, the world is not a bed of roses. However, looking at the brighter side of life is a choice.

People who play the victim are more prone to overthinking and being reflective about their lives. Unfortunately, one negative thought can snowball into a whirlwind of emotional and physical chaos.

Anxiety and fear often accompany them, and they shy from taking even the most calculated risks. 

Read: How to Cultivate Optimism During Rough Times

3. They Reject Help

Taking time to process negative emotions is healthy. Still, if you find it challenging to focus on anything apart from your sufferings, this is the surefire recipe for falling into a victim mentality.

Those with a victim mindset unconsciously reject any help, acts of kindness or assistance offered to them. 

Their energies are so concentrated on feeling bad, wronged, and broken that it looks impossible for them to receive any help and work on it.

4. They Neglect Basic Self-care

Feelings of passiveness can result in a disinterest in the pleasures of life. For example, a victim mentality may forgo the basic needs of grooming or taking care of their appearance. 

They don’t feel like getting exercise or find it incredibly difficult to commit to their fitness goals and eat a healthy balanced diet.

5. They Blame Others

A victim mentality makes you prone to disregarding your role altogether for your state and shifting the blame on others.

Not only do people with a victim mindset think that they are the unluckiest ones, but they also believe that someone else is responsible for their unfortunate situation.

6. They Behave ‘Powerless’

Sure, life doesn’t always turn around as we hope, but that doesn’t mean we can do nothing to improve our circumstances.

Choosing not to believe that things cannot change for the better is what a person with a victim mentality does. This belief makes them feel ‘powerless’, and sadly, nothing really changes for them unless they make efforts to take a small positive step.

7. They Sacrifice their Needs

It’s one thing to help others but another to sacrifice one’s own needs to fulfil someone else’s needs. 

A person with a victim mentality often complains about their needs getting ignored but yet refuse to do anything about it.

They let the resentment and anger grow, making themselves feel used and exploited. It only contributes to their belief that no one cares for their feelings and needs.

To stop playing the victim, you would have to be more assertive and get used to setting boundaries.

8. They Withdraw Themselves from Others

All the pain, self-pity, frustration can crush any desire to socialise with others. 

A person with a victim mindset believes that they don’t have any social support, and people, in general, are mean. 

Their belief that they don’t matter to others can lead them to be more reclusive and aloof.

Cutting people off is a sign of victim mentality.

Read: How to Feel Less Lonely

Why is It Difficult to Get Rid of a Victim Mentality?

One of the primary reasons people struggle to lose the victim mindset is that they are not even aware they have a victim mindset.

It feels like a natural reaction to the pain and distress that they have endured. But, unfortunately, not everyone can recognise that they need an intervention until it gets very late.

Another important reason is that letting go of victim mentality would mean thinking, making changes in their lives, moving from a familiar discomfort to an unfamiliar one.

Being already in pain, they don’t want to take any more chances to exacerbate it by making themselves exposed to failures, rejections and dealing with humiliations.

Then, for some, deciding not to be a victim means a change in their present identity, saying no to sympathy, comfort and consolations. 

However, if you want to move on from the pain of being a victim, it would be a good idea to actively and immediately start working on turning your life around.

How to Stop Playing the Victim?

Here are 7 ways to stop feeling like a victim.

1. Choose to Forgive 

Harbouring negative emotions against the person who wronged you will only hinder your process of healing. Unless you let yourself heal, you would continue to feel like a victim. 

While it may seem impossible to forgive the offender, it is one scientifically proven way to move on from the pain.

Acknowledging the frailties and imperfections of fellow human beings and yours can open up doors to empathy in your heart. Forgive them for your well-being, not theirs.

2. Know Life is Not Always Fair

Many of us suffer from a cognitive distortion known as the Fallacy of fairness—anger and resentment breed when things don’t turn out the way they should. 

Believing that life should be fair results in uncomfortable emotions when things don’t pan out the way we hoped. It leaves us with a sense of injustice.

A simple fact of life is: It’s not always fair. It doesn’t mean we give up on our dreams and lie inactive. It means collecting your broken pieces, getting up and trying again.

3. Accept that You Have No Control Over Others

While it’s completely natural to seek an apology from the person who wronged you, you can’t force them to realise their faults or make them apologise to you for their mistreatment.

The good news is that you can control what actions you can take to feel better.

For example, you can choose to take help from others.

Then, you can commit to loving and taking care of yourself.

You can permit yourself to learn lessons from the rough phases of your life and use them in future. Finally, you can control what you want to do in your life.

4. Focus on Your Strengths

A victim mentality puts your weaknesses in sharp focus. Identifying your strengths and using them to bring positive emotions into your life can help you stop feeling like a powerless person.

Acknowledge the fact that each person is unique, and they have their strengths and capabilities. Move out of your comfort zone.

Believing in yourself, and developing your strengths can bolster your self-esteem, thus, bringing the reins of your life into your hands.

Read: How to Improve Your Self-Esteem

5. Count Your Blessings

You can escape a victim mindset by acknowledging the blessings in your life.

Being grateful for the things in your life which bring comfort, rest, peace, fulfilment, laughter, pleasures or any positive emotion for that matter can shift your focus from dearth to abundance in your life.

A mind filled with gratitude learns to appreciate the goodness in others and foster a stronger relationship.

6. Change the Victim Narrative

It would be best if you were willing to change your identity from a victim to a survivor. Clinging to the role of a victim will keep you stagnant in your life.

A survivor mentality motivates you to take actions that reduce your suffering. This mindset also helps you stop blaming others for your problems.

Focus on the steps you can take to bring back normalcy to your life rather than remembering the pain each day.

7. Embrace a Realistic View of Life

Not all our dreams will come to fruition. Not all our efforts will create a positive result. We wouldn’t be happy all the time.

But it’s also true that we would taste success in some areas of our lives. We will meet some really good human beings over the course of our lives.

Managing your expectations and developing a realistic view of life can help you get out of the victim mindset.

Conclusion- How to Stop Playing the Victim

Victim mentality is a result of past bad events which may have caused trauma.

It could be abuse, exploitation, or mistreatment, which created deep distress and pain.

However, clinging to negative emotions can harm your well-being and make you lose control over your life.

Acknowledging your problems instead of avoiding responsibilities and shifting your focus to seeking their solutions could benefit you greatly in regaining your life.


Read: Poor Me Syndrome

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