No matter who you are, you have life coming at you all the time. You must deal with the agenda of others. You must deal with your own weaknesses, insecurities, and other challenges. Nobody has a perfect life. With so much coming at us, oftentimes we take on a victim’s mindset. I want to explore what a victim mindset is and show you how to rewrite your narrative to turn that mindset into an empowering one.
It would have been easy for me to take on a victim mindset, and, if I’m not careful, a victim mindset can take over at any minute. It is so easy for a victim mindset to take over. A victim mindset is blaming our setbacks on outside factors. There is a difference between being a victim and having a victim mindset. The statement “don’t be a victim” never made sense to me. I feel that I’m a victim of cerebral palsy. Minorities should not deny the fact that racism still exists. If you are robbed, then you are a victim of robbery. The number one goal in life is to improve our lives and wallowing in a victim mindset does not usually serve that agenda. Just because you are right does not mean your narrative and your mindset should follow. I can tell you a story about my life that is 100 percent true, but it would leave you in tears. If I keep telling that story to others and myself, then I fall into a victim mindset. Again, the goal is to improve your life and part of the process is rewriting that narrative.
Life has ups and downs. We can all point to something in our past that can engender a victim mindset. During childhood, some people don’t belong in a social circle or deal with drama or had a bad teacher who demeaned rather than uplifted or encouraged. At home, a child might grow up in a chaotic household or have an alcoholic parent. A child can grow up in a bad neighborhood and see bad things. Furthermore, as people enter adulthood, they solidify their mindset and, oftentimes, are not in a situation professionally or personally that fosters a positive mindset. This can be working in an exploitive industry. It can be choosing the wrong professional or personal circle. It can even be having a bad or abusive relationship. This can lead to a path to a victim mindset.
Everybody has had life not go their way, and we have opportunities every day to act like victims. This can be big or tiny. If dinner runs long and it causes us to miss our movie, then we are victims of bad service. We can be victims of traffic, long lines, customer service, airport delays, and anything that gets in the way of our amazing life. There are two parts of reality. There’s reality and then there’s your reaction to reality. The choice between acting like a victim and having an empowered mindset makes all the difference.
Another reason that a victim mindset could take hold is because our idea of success does not fit reality. If you grow up assuming that success equals going to college and that will lead you to buying a house at 30 and that does not happen, then it’s easy to fall into a victim mindset. If you feel that you did everything right and life does not turn out the way you thought, then it’s easy to fall into a victim mindset.
With the rapid pace of change comes the opportunity for some to get left behind. The reality is that industries and times change, and they change in a more rapid, dramatic way. If you want an amazing life, you must adopt the mindset and the narrative that will lead to the life that you desire. There is something comforting in blaming others and wallowing in self-pity. Another example of this is what works in one time does not work in another time. An example of this is if you sold fax machines in ‘80s and ‘90s, you cannot expect that mindset to carry you to success today. Although this example is extreme there are more subtle examples. For example, if you owned a mom-and-pop local shop and a big box retailer came into your area, you must change your mindset and it’s important to improve your life from a victim mindset to one that empowers you.
Feeling that you don’t belong can engender a victim mindset. One of the characteristics of being a human being is just the feeling of inclusion. A person can feel like a victim when they don’t belong in a community or a circle of people. I am grateful for the blessings in my life and the way the United States has taken care of people with disabilities like me. With that being said, there is a lot in society, and the way that it’s set up, that is not conducive to my unique challenges. Oftentimes, it’s a struggle for me stay positive and, every so often, my disability puts me in a pickle. If I’m not careful, I can fall into a victim mindset. To be honest, everybody has. It’s just a question of how much and how often. Whenever I go out, I’m reminded of this.
No matter how positive you are and no matter how you try to rewrite your narrative, it’s never going to be ideal. We all have a default reaction to life and anything that goes wrong. I’ve been part of the personal development community. I’ve read books, attended conferences, worked with coaches, and had more than my fair share of the Kool Aid. Yet, my default reaction to anything that goes wrong in my life is blame it on my disability.
Another issue is that you’re dealing with others in society and everybody is chasing their own agenda. Oftentimes, the agenda of others is not set up for your success. Casinos are not worried your ability to pay your mortgage. Credit card companies are not happy when everybody pays off their balance at the end of the month. Soda manufacturers are not worried about your dental bill. In a 60 Minutes report, they talk about how app developers employ the same technology to keep you on your phone as slot machine manufacturers. Your goal is not to assume that everyone is out to get you or there’s some kind of conspiracy. Your goal is to empower yourself with the narrative and mindset to get you where you need to go.
The influences and the kind of information that you consume validates your narrative and your mindset. Growing up, my parents did not allow me to act like a victim. My mom did not allow me to say life is not fair. My dad still says that we are the luckiest people on earth. I got to hear some of the world’s best speakers whether that was in person, in books, or even on YouTube. I kept on rewriting my narrative. I have positive people who inspire me every day. I also have people who validate my victim tendencies. I know exactly who to invite to a very unproductive pity party. Even political parties pander to different victim mindsets. Pandering is simply telling people what they want they want to hear instead of telling people what they need to hear or the truth. Many of your friends and social circles tell you that it’s not your fault that your life is not humming. One way that I avoid falling in to a victim mindset is being careful about what kind of interaction I engage in and with whom. It does not serve me to engage with people who bring me down and validate my mindset.
Disenfranchisement is a form of a group of people adopting a victim mindset and feeding each other a narrative that is self-defecating. Let’s say that you live in a town where a big part of a population is dependent on an industry or a company and that industry changes. Members of the community may feel disenfranchised because what was working a couple of decades ago may not work now. Without changing their mindset and their narrative, the whole city may feel disenfranchised.
Another form of disenfranchisement is due to the rapid change of technology and the impact that it has on most businesses. If a person does not keep up with technology and expects that their old mindset and their old narrative will entitle them to ongoing success then that will lead them to adopt a victim mindset.
Many people can feel disenfranchised by technology because technology is becoming ingrained more and more in our lives. If people do not change with technology or keep up with technological trends, then it can lead to disenfranchisement and a victim mindset. Furthermore, the way politics and the ramifications that it has on businesses and life can often feel unfair to some and unfairly benefit others.
At the extreme end of a victim mindset is buying into a conspiracy theory because, if a conspiracy theory is true, then their effort does not matter. This gives them the great excuse not to work and not to try. In a conspiracy theory, you have others who enable your ideas and your mindset.
The difference between being a victim and taking the characteristics of a victim mindset is nuanced. In order not to slip into a victim mindset, you must take personal responsibility for your life, be willing to do the work necessary and not blame others for everything that goes wrong.
Blaming others or blaming outside factors for the ups and downs of life is just natural. We all do it. Life just seems like it is coming at us and the goal is not to avoid being a victim. The goal is to have a victim mindset infiltrate our goals and the way we view and go after our life.
A great and tangible example of this that everybody can relate to is the coronavirus. Virtually everybody was affected by this and most everybody had many freak out moments. The reaction to the coronavirus was all over the map. Although everybody was a victim, not everybody acted as a victim. Some people took the right steps while others denied or blamed. There were some that did everything that was recommended and there were others that came up and embraced conspiracy theories. There were some businesses that adjusted and hunkered down. There were some businesses that threw in the towel.
The goal is not to avoid being a victim. The goal is to limit the time and energy you spend on having a victim mindset. In order to avoid a victim mindset, you must take personal responsibility for everything that effects your life. Next, you must accept the situation and accept the steps toward making the best of it.
Let’s face it, being a victim is comforting. It’s the candy of the mind. When you act like a victim, and have people around you who enable that mindset, you feel that you are justified in that feeling and there’s part of your mindset or your assumptions that are true. It can be ten present, 50 percent, or even 100 percent true. It sucks to be disabled and it gets in the way of virtually everything in my life. It makes most activities more challenging. Nobody would blame me for acting like a victim (maybe my mom). Besides the mental candy that being a victim provides, the consequences of acting like a victim are quite more profound.
A victim mindset can put you on a different trajectory of life. It takes energy, time, and other resources to chew on the mental candy of being a victim. The more you go down the rabbit hole of victimhood, the more energy you spend on all the reasons that you got cheated out of life. The goal is to spend as much time, energy, and other resources on understanding what is wrong. Define the issues in your life and finally spend as many resources as you need in order to find a path to an amazing life. Another consequence of acting like a victim is that others treat you like a victim. One of the goals of mindset is to engage others to create win-win situations. I had the most amazing people in my life, but that would have never happened if I did not create an amazing mindset. If I acted like a victim and complained that life was too hard, then the people in my life and the people that I interact with would have no reason to work with me. I need to add value to others. Only then do people have a reason to work with me.