How to Overcome Victim Thinking: 3 Powerful Steps

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:


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.


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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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehack, The Huffington Post and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous

    This is very good. I especially like the section on the attraction of victim mentality. That is well delineated.

  • Thank you for this inspirational post. It really got me thinking about my own reactions

  • This is very good. But i am searching.. How can i overcome my fears.. Please help.

  • Victim Thinking – A very common issue that probably every person has at least once or more than once in his lifetime. The simplest solution for this is “Perception”. Stop wasting time on your past and start building your future coz we all know that success comes to those who will and dare. I am impressed by the way you taught us to deal with it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi Henrik, Very insightful and thought provoking blog post. Couple of years back every time i faced a problem or had a argument at work, i use to feel like a victim. I found ways to blame the other person or a situation for what happened to me. Then by chance i got a chance to read couple of books by Brian Tracy. Then I realized that by become angry at what happened, i am giving control to other person. I started taking responsibility for everything that happens in my life now. I am in control for my life.

  • Hi Henrik.
    I really liked the practical points you mentioned for overcoming the victim mentality and taking more responsibility for our actions. Everyone of us, sometime or the other keep coming across such situations.
    Over the span of years I have realised and , you must be knowing better that, this victim mentality arises out of the negative self image we have about ourselves and it keeps us away from realising and working upto our full potential.
    By making conscious efforts, we can change our self-limiting beliefs and come out of such metality and this change can give us more power and freedom in life.

  • Gaminithilaka Pandikorala

    I cannot accept that the fogiving leads to freedom. It helps if logically presented facts are available to for a strong conditioning. One cannot gain total freedom by moving case by case pattern. It’s a never ending process. You can perceive any emotion with insight to the real inward depth until you feel every thing coming to an end. Your comments without any exception helps me to achieve this and also enable me to help another to achieve. So I love read all your writings. But it’s a pity I have noway to discuss your writings with others without your permission and also due to lack of adequate resources.

  • I am happy to see this finally. I wanted to overcome this habit of overthinking on the smallest things. Self control is all about having control over your emotions and I am I did this finally.

  • I have recently come to this realization myself that it is easy to slip into the victim role and feel helpless in certain situations. It is harder to take responsibility and overcome that thinking. But of course, it is way more rewarding!

  • Jeannette Connolly

    I am prone to victim mentality. I never could figure out what I was gaining from it. I appreciate your explanation of what benefits are involved in being a victim. Thank you for presenting alternatives too. This helped me a lot.

  • Anna

    Hi Henrik, this a useful advice working on taking responsibility for myself, my thoughts and action. Keep up the good work.

  • Janet

    I really needed this specific one today. This is so good. Thank you.

  • Suzi

    When I changed from a victim mentality to an attitude of gratitude, my life took a dramatic turn for the better. It’s really true.

  • Graham Morrow

    G’day Henrik, another strong message for all of us. Keep up your good work. Graham

  • Stanley Siakilo

    This is indeed beautiful and Informative