Someone who has experienced a lot of trauma may find their world becomes colored by a dichotomy of power vs. helplessness that’s always more heavily slanted toward their experiences of being out of control. It doesn’t matter if it’s addiction, childhood trauma, or hurt that is pervasive across many stages–pain of this nature can seep through your defenses. When you’ve been hurt, abused, or disempowered throughout your life, feeling helpless can become a default.
What is a victim mentality?
In general, a victim mentality is born of the repeated sense that you are at the mercy of the happenings in the world without any real say in the outcome. While this can produce frustration at failed attempts to bring about change, it also absolves you of any responsibility for doing so. Excuses for why you can’t change come readily, as does a list of external factors at fault for the current circumstances in your life.
The refrain of not being at fault is a coping mechanism and a truth: you are not at fault for the things that have happened to you. However, a victim mentality is the manifestation of that coping mechanism on a scale that eclipses your sense of control over your life until you can’t feel it anymore.
Self-pity vs a victim mentality
No one plans to become addicted to being a victim, but for many, it begins as a culmination of bad things in the world feeling like they’ve outweighed the hope. When your reality has been re-written by trauma, you are the victim. When your reality is re-written time and again by pain, you become powerless against your victim status.
The difference between being addicted to being a victim and self-pity is somewhere between the two. Self-pity is a short-term expression of the pain of trauma; it’s you feeling sorry and hurt for what’s occurred to you. When you begin to wear that hurt as an identity, it’s a victim mentality.
3 Signs someone in your life has a victim mentality
So what does a victim mentality look like? There’s a certain power in being a victim, and when someone is used to being hurt, that power feels alluring and protective. Here are some signs that may be of concern for someone struggling with a victim mentality.
1. Blame without accountability
Impressing the reminder that you are not responsible for what’s happened to you can take on a new life if it begins to bleed out to the parts of your life where you retain your agency. Being unable to take responsibility for the actions you take, while feeling entitled to let others know when they’ve wronged you or been wrong can be a slippery slope toward victim addiction.
2. Living in the past
When every attempt for others to remind you that hope and brighter days are ahead is met with contempt because all you can see in the past, it’s time to take a long look at the shape of your healing. Reliving your trauma can be deeply painful, but doing so on a stage that helps you to feel validated and supported can become addicting. That hit of dopamine that comes from receiving attention for your strength may make it difficult to move on from that trauma.
3. Negative self-talk
The voice that leads your inner narrative is cruel. A hurtful internal voice can stand in the way of healing. When you feel sorry for yourself, and others feel sorry for you as well, it’s difficult to be anything more than worn down by the pain you feel. Negative self-talk perpetuates abuse of yourself and gives power to the pain that made you feel helpless to begin with.
How do you break an addiction to being a victim?
It might feel shameful to even consider that you could become addicted to being a victim, but there are lots of things that feel like perks in victimhood. When you are hurting, there is freedom and validation in expressing that hurt. It can help you heal, but when the hurt keeps coming, it’s easy to blur the lines. It carries a secret power, but that power has a price that will destroy your determination. We want to empower you to find your way back to healing from helplessness.
3 Ttips to holistic recovery
A victim addiction is a learned behavior which means it can be unlearned. Through the process of unlearning the coping mechanisms that insulate a permanent victim from the pain of the world, they can reclaim their sense of power. Support through the process is critical, and many of our holistic programs are designed to engage your empowerment in your recovery.
1. Let go of grudges and comparison
Constantly holding yourself to the standard of comparison for others will reinforce a victim addiction quickly. Let go of the concept that you must feel or heal like someone else and begin to accept curiosity in your healing instead.
When you let go of the pain at the core of your helplessness, your strength will begin to turn inward as well. The truth is: you are already so incredibly strong. Release that strength from the shackles of contempt by finding the forgiveness you deserve.
3. Make space for small victories
Risk feels really scary when you’ve experienced a lot of trauma. Instead of jumping to the need to overcome huge hurdles in the blink of an eye, let your expectation for wins focus on the here and now. Find small victories that help you to feel empowered as you build up your competence in confidence.
When you are healing trauma or substance abuse, confronting victim addiction in yourself or someone you love can feel overwhelming. Call (760) 350-3131 to get the help you’re craving today.