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How to Overcome Victim Thinking: 3 Powerful Steps for a Happier Life

Victim Thinking“Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.”
Helen Keller

How do you react if something in your life doesn’t go as you wish?

Well, at first you’ll probably feel pain of some sort.

But what happens after that? What do you do after the initial pain?

Do you think of yourself as a victim, as someone with little or no control or power?

Do you slip back into a familiar headspace where you feel sorry for yourself and where you feel like someone – or the whole world – is against you?

I used to get stuck in that destructive and self-esteem sucking way of thinking quite often. And I know that many people get stuck in it from time to time.

Or more often than that.

So this week I’d like to share 3 steps that helps me to move out of that headspace and replace it with something better.

Step 1: Recognize the benefits of the victim mentality.

The victim mentality can be pretty beneficial in the short term and for instant gratification. A few benefits are:

  • Attention and validation. You can always get good feelings from other people as they are concerned about you and try to help you out. But it may not last for that long as people get tired of it.
  • You don’t have to take risks. When you feel like a victim you tend to not take action. And so you don’t have to risk for instance rejection or failure.
  • Don’t have to take the responsibility. Taking responsibility for your own life can be hard work, you have to make difficult decisions and it is just tough from time to time. In the short term it can feel like the easier choice to not take personal responsibility.
  • It makes you feel like you’re right. When you feel like the victim and like someone else is wrong and you are right then that can lead to pleasurable feelings.

In my experience, by just being aware of the benefits I can derive from victim thinking it becomes easier to say no to that whenever such thoughts start to creep up and to choose to take a different path.

Step 2: Ask yourself what the long-term consequences of this will be.

The benefits above can be quite addictive.

But what will the long-term consequences of getting stuck in victim thinking be?

  • How will it hold you back from doing the things you deep down dream about in life?
  • How will it affect your most important relationships?
  • How does it affect your relationship with yourself?

Be honest with yourself and get motivation to change by seeing how destructively this will affect your life over the next 12 months and over the next 3 or 5 years.

Step 3: Replace the victim thinking with something more helpful.

To not create a vacuum where all those thoughts about being a victim used to run around for hours upon hours you need to replace the negative thought habits with something more useful.

Like for example:

Gratitude.

After that initial pain is gone – or smaller – you don’t have to create more suffering for yourself.

Instead, tap into gratitude.

I sometimes do that by asking myself this question to zoom out on my situation and to gain a more level-headed perspective:

Does someone on the planet have it worse than me right now?

Learn and take action. 

After tapping into a more grateful frame of mind my mind also becomes more open to getting an optimistic answer out of my next question.

It’s usually something like:

What is one thing I can learn from this situation?

Then I follow that up with:

What is one small step I can take to move forward or out of this situation today?

Ask yourself: How can I give value to one person in my life right now? 

Help this person out in some way by being kind, by listening or by doing something practically for example.

By doing so you’ll feel more powerful again. You’ll create more happiness for the other person and you’ll feel better about your day too.

Forgive. 

I really like this quote about forgiveness from Catherine Ponder:

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

You don’t have to forgive just because it is something you “should do”.

You don’t have to do it to be the better person either.

You can do it just for yourself. For your own well-being and freedom.

Release yourself from the agony and focus your limited time and energy on things that will make you happier.

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{ 65 comments… add one }
  • Honey

    I’ve changed my whole life after just 6 months truly being ractional with Henricks advice. I live in China but I’m European. It’s a tough road. With negative feedback in work place , it’s getting harder. But I’ve grown above it, this is amazin* help! .

  • JM

    Thanks Henrik.
    This article reached me right on time. This is what I need. I was so confused about forgiving that person. But like you said, I have to do it just for my sake atleast. Thank you again for helping.

  • JH

    How do you forgive another through the pain?

  • John Salmond

    This week was a mess. Decided to blow off another job probably cause I was too drunk to think clearly about what was happening. Boo on that. I can do better on multiple levels.. I cannot suck into the pity party process as it eats the better spirit. Not to mention it never hurts to drink less.

  • Hi Henrik!
    Thank you for this post! It can last a really long time to train your mind to think in a positive and useful way. But it’s totally worth it.

  • Sheif

    This article was strong powerful and hits u right where it has to ! It will help many people without doubt ! Keep up the great work !!!!

  • Thashambo Matthews

    Indeed, I totally agree with your points especially the last point from step three about forgiveness. When your feeling good and have positive emotions it will do good things for our brains and bodies. They will lower stress hormones, help ease anxiety and depression, and improve our immune system. So to overcome Victim thinking one have to replace them with positive thinking and as a result this will lead to happiness and well-being.

  • Prithvi

    Yeah mate,,,,spot on …been in that CIRCLE for 20 years …..one thoughts affect ones actions and ones action are destiny…so thanks.Good timing.

  • NS

    Very helpful thank you so much

  • Ali Mohsenzadeh

    Thank you

  • Victim mentality can be beneficial in the short term but can affect our thought process in a long term perspective. Thanks, well written.

  • I think your article is great and so helpful for me and I guess so many others too. Last week I went out for a drive to somewhere I had never been before in my new car. It was dark and I didn’t know where I was going. On the way as the car was new to me I narrowly missed having an accident which could have damaged the car or worse still me.
    Fortunately I didn’t. Later in the journey it was really dark and I took one wrong turn which took me onto private land and I got stuck in a ditch.
    The owners came out and were very irritated that I had made the error and was stuck on their land. I had to listen to their complaints and eventually had to call breakdown cover and pay money that I wasn’t expecting to have to pay to get the car out of the ditch.
    I was really cheesed off for quite a while. I though, “I just don’t deserve this.” Then I realised I could have had an accident , I could have written off my new car, or worse still be in hospital or dead.
    It was then that my feelings began to change and my attitude improved as I considered just how lucky I had been earlier during my journey. My gratitude, eventually saved the day and got me out of my victim mentality thank god!

  • Nice article

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