What is Victim Mentality and is it the same as being narcissistic?
Well lets firstly establish that having a VICTIM MENTALITY and NARCISM are two very different things, afflicting two very different types of people.
Let’s break it down
Victim mentality – This is a MINDSET and can be changed. People with a victim mentality have usually suffered trauma, have a low opinion of themselves and a very negative outlook on life. They take no responsibility for their life and are often very selfish.
Narcissism – This is a diagnosable mental personality DISORDER. People with narcissistic personality disorder tend to have inflated sense of self-importance (in contrast to someone with VM who has the opposite), believe they are special and more important than those around them. They don’t have genuine empathy for others (but will fake what they need to, to get what they want) and have an excessive need for admiration and fame. (Ahem…hello social media influencers…*cough)
Now before you tear my head off – obviously not ALL Instagram influencers are narcissists, however I do come across a lot who ARE, whilst travelling the ‘gram. People who don’t care who gets hurt in the crossfire, as long as they garner media attention, who believe ‘any publicity is good publicity’ and will orchestrate controversial content in order to go ‘viral’ or hit the mainstream media. Or they will follow the social media trend in order to get the likes, shares and follows and, again regardless of whether it’s true or hurts someone else, will concoct a story or situation which ties right into the current “trend”. They always have their own agenda, so even though it may appear that they want to do something for a charity or out of the ‘goodness of their heart’, there is ALWAYS an agenda and a benefit first and foremost to a narcissist. Now, you may also notice, that whenever anybody calls out an influencers shitty behaviour, I’m not talking about trolling or pure abuse, but genuine conversations being had in the comments section or DM, a narcissists will ALWAYS pull the ‘bully’ card and never ever enters into the discussion. Why? Because a narcissist honestly believes they are never wrong, that they are better than others and they manipulates their audience to believe they are a victim of bullying and harassment. This then leads to more likes, more DMS, more shares, media attention……read above – see the pattern? In contrast to someone with victim mentality – a narcissist is often very popular. They are very good at doing, saying or being whatever, they need to in order to appear as a likeable, funny and kind. So, on Instagram, they tend to have a “cult like” following who defend EVERYTHING they do even if, deep down, they don’t agree with it. I used to be attracted to narcissist’s…… I was engaged to one, I was abused by one. No one believed me because he was such a “great guy”…. sorry to burst the magical bubble – but it’s the same on the ‘gram!
I am the first person to put up my hand and say that I ,have personally, had victim mentality, and have successfully changed my mindset to that of someone who is fully aware of my contribution to the things in my life. To be honest, it’s all been a big part of my #journeytoworhty and why I put so much of my time and energy into helping other women get out of that negative space and find happiness and positivity after trauma. When you’re stuck in victim mentality you don’t honestly believe that life can be different, that anything good will ever happen to you and believe that you are just the victim of what HAPPENS to you, instead of taking CONTROL of what occurs in your life.
The first step to changing the mindset is recognising you are there. So, here are some traits from someone who has VM – do you recognise it in someone you know? Or even yourself?
- Blame others for negative situations happening in their life
- Believe others genuinely have it better
- Constantly use words and phrases such as “unfair” and “this always happens to me”
- Very self-absorbed in their problems and don’t reach out to friends or family when they are in a tough situation
- See all their problems as worse than someone else’s
- Selfish and jealous of others as they see the world as owing them something
- Describes others success as “lucky” and can’t celebrate it as they focus on what they HAVEN’T achieved and not what that person has
- Respond to advice on how to improve things with excuses and reasons why said suggestion won’t work.
For me I was so hurt and angry about my past – sexually abused as a child, abandoned by my parents as a teen (my perception at the time), DV relationship from age 14-19, teen mum, anxiety, eating disorder and low income. Now I’m NOT listing these experiences to be a victim, simply giving a bit of background as to WHERE my mentality came from. Victim mentality generally comes from actually having experienced trauma or adversity – it comes from genuinely having been a victim of something horrible. I was MAD at the world for giving me this life, but I failed to take responsibility for my actions. Obviously, I’m not referring to being abused as a child or teenager, no one can control these things and I was definitely a victim, but my choices following this. I constantly expected bad things to occur, so I didn’t even bother to TRY to make the good things happen. I was so caught up in my own feelings of worthlessness that I wasn’t a very good friend, daughter or sister. I had zero insight and believed my life was happening TO me and not acknowledging that I was actually creating it.
Your life is CREATED by you, however when you have a victim mentality you feel life HAPPENS to you. You feel nothing is your choice and blame “fate”, “luck” and “the universe” for the circumstances and events in your life. It is a highly destructive and isolating mindset and having that negative mindset, makes it hard for people to enjoy your company. Harsh – but true! Have you ever tried to help someone who is stuck in a negative cycle? They almost always respond with “I’ve tried that”, “That won’t work ” and either make excuses NOT to change things or won’t take action and things stay the same.
The saying “when it rains it pours” is true for all of us and here’s why. When something negative occurs, it affects us (naturally) and we are in a more negative headspace. This negative headspace means we are more likely to see the NEGATIVE in other situations/experiences and ignore the positive. We also approach things with a more negative attitude thus creating negative reactions, like a domino effect. Suddenly everything feels like it’s happening at once – when really, if we just flick that switch, things will begin to improve. So where is that switch located? You may ask – it isn’t that simple, and boy I wish it was.
To break free of the Victim Mentality it took a lot of work from ME – no one else – just ME. Here are some tips to help you get started in the mindset shift –
- Recognise it in yourself – acknowledge it and tell yourself it can be changed.
- Forgive yourself for past mistakes -we’ve all made them- you are NOT those mistakes.
- Seek help for unresolved past trauma. Therapy is life changing, literally. Head to your GP and ask to discuss a mental health care plan so you can start seeing a counsellor, or, contact a counsellor direct and book in a session.
- Start APPRECIATING the POSITIVE in your life. Keep a gratitude journal by your bed and every night before going to sleep write down 5 things you are grateful for. Start small as, when you’re coming from a negative head space, this can be really difficult. “I am grateful that it didn’t rain today” – is perfectly fine. Use a notebook or download and print this Daily gratitude journal sheet to get you started
- Take ACTION – write down some goals, again, start small. e.g. Goal 1: Get up at 7:30 every morning and make bed. Goal 2: Greet everyone at work with a smile Goal 3: Do not complain or say negative things today. From here you can build to weekly, monthly and yearly goals and IF you don’t achieve them every time – DON’T GET UPSET and don’t make excuses. Learn and move on.
If the above rings true for someone you know and love, then there is only ONE way you can help them – honesty. No amount of advice or pointing out the positive will work – a negative mindset and victim mentality are something that can only be changed once the person decides they want to change. Be honest and say “I can’t continue to talk to you about these issues, because nothing I say or suggest matters. You need to change your mind set for your circumstances to change”. And it is okay to walk away from someone who thinks this way – their constant negativity can drain you and, as said above, it’s up to THEM to begin the change in mindset, not you.
It’s not easy, it takes a lot of work, a lot of self-awareness and LOTS of self-love. So be kind to yourself, take it slow and know that your life will be very different in the future – your past can stay right where it is!