There’s that one person in your circle of friends who always has the “woe is me” attitude.
They blame others for everything that goes wrong; they believe that bad things only happen to them and don’t try to change things because they feel it’s pointless.
Yup, this person has a severe case of victim mentality.
So, how do you deal with this person without giving up or losing your cool?
If you’re dealing with someone who’s a textbook victim mentality case, read on. This article contains everything you’ll need to know about dealing with someone who always pulls the victim’s card.
What is the victim mentality?
Victim mentality is a term commonly used in popular culture and casual conversation to describe people who love to wallow in negativity and force it on others.
Medically, it’s not a term but instead referred to as a stigma to describe a particular personality trait.
Victims often express a lot of negativity, but it’s important to recognize significant pain and distress are often the root causes of their situation.
As a result, they believe others are to blame for their misery and that nothing they do will make a difference.
Consequently, they become vulnerable, which leads to difficult emotions and behaviors.
The main signs of victim mentality
A few signs indicate that someone is presenting as a victim.
Avoiding responsibility and accountability
One of the main signs prominent in people who have a victim mindset is that they avoid responsibility and accountability at all costs.
They pass the buck, make excuses and shift the blame, thinking that bad things happen to them for no reason. Then, they start believing that the world is out to get them and that changing this is impossible.
They don’t want to change (or can’t)
People from a victimizing environment are less likely to want to make changes. It may seem like they only want to feel sorry for themselves, and they refuse offers of help.
Spending a little time wallowing in misery isn’t necessarily unhealthy. On the contrary, this can help with acknowledging and processing painful emotions.
Nevertheless, this period should have an end date. It’s more effective to move forward with healing and change afterward.
An overwhelming feeling of powerlessness
Feeling victimized often makes people believe they do not choose to change their situation. Yet, despite this, life keeps throwing them situations that, from their perspective, they cannot escape or succeed in.
It’s essential to consider the difference between ‘unwilling’ and ‘unable’ when dealing with people who feel helpless due to circumstances.
Some victims may shift blame consciously to others and take offense in the process.
However, those unable to move forward have usually experienced deep-rooted psychological pain that makes changing seem like an impossibility. The unwilling ones are simply using their victim mentality as a scapegoat.
Negative self-talk and self-sabotage
A victim mentality may lead to internalizing the negative messages that come with challenges.
As a result of victimization, people may believe:
• “I seem to have everything bad happen to me.”.
• “I can’t change it, so why bother?”
• “My bad luck is my fault.”
• “No one seems to care about me.”
Every new difficulty reinforces these harmful beliefs until they become ingrained in their internal dialogue. Negative self-talk damages resilience over time, making it more challenging to bounce back and recover from challenges.
Self-sabotage often goes hand in hand with negative self-talk. Those who believe their self-talk is often more likely to live it out. Often, negative self-talk will unconsciously hinder any attempts to change.
Lack of self-confidence
A victim’s low self-esteem and confidence may affect them. As a result, they may feel more victimized.
The belief that “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not talented enough” can prevent people from developing their skills or identifying new skills or abilities that could enable them to achieve their goals.
If they work toward what they want but fail, they may come to believe that they are yet again victims of circumstance. With their negative perspective, it can be challenging to see any other possibilities, for all the light at the end of the tunnel.
Frustration, anger, and resentment
Emotional well-being can be affected by a victim mentality.
People with this mindset might experience the following:
• The world seems to be against them, leaving them frustrated and angry
• Feeling helpless that nothing will change
• Feel hurt when they think their loved ones aren’t caring
• Angry at happy and successful people
The emotions that build and fester within people who feel they’ll always be victims can weigh heavily on them. In the long run, these feelings can lead to:
• Excessive rage
• Depressive mood
How to deal with the victim mentality
So after reading that, you can relate! I know it’s a lot to take in, but what are your choices?
You care about this person and can’t simply just ignore them. After all, they look up to you. So how do you deal with them?
If you’re struggling with a loved one or family member who’s always pulling the victim card, here is how you can assist without mentally and physically exhausting yourself.
1) Be empathetic
Recognize that they have endured traumatic events in the past, and express empathy.
Comforting statements, as I hear you, I can imagine what that feels like or, I can relate, can go a long way in making them feel supported.
Take it a step further, put yourself in their shoes and then provide them with the insights you have based on if you were them.
You can say: “It’s terrible that you have to deal with this”. I’m here to help if you need it.”
2) Don’t come across as being judgemental.
They’re opening up to you because they trust and feel comfortable with you, so allow them to speak their truth without feeling judgment or shame.
Avoid saying things like “Why did you do that? It’s so common” or, ” I wouldn’t be caught dead with XYZ…you get the picture. Instead, use more I language and avoid saying you.
3) Clarify your role
Let them know that you’re listening from the perspective of an outsider.
You’re there to help and not figure out what’s right and wrong. Neither are you there to play referee.
This will help you not get drawn into the emotion of it all. Instead, you’re simply listening and responding as a complete outsider to the situation would respond.
4) Allow them to vent
Although it can be taxing on you, getting them to vent is the best step forward.
Let them pour their heart out and get everything bothering them off their chest. This will help them feel like you are supporting them and trust them.
Also, while they’re talking, don’t interrupt them. Instead, use non-verbal communication such as nodding in acknowledgment and facial features to show them you are listening to them intently.
You could say something like: I can’t fix your problem for you, but I can help you work through it.”
5) Set boundaries
This is incredibly important when dealing with somebody suffering from the victim mentality.
You need to set up clear boundaries and rules around appropriate points for discussion, personal opinions, and others for both your sakes.
You need to clarify what you are comfortable and not comfortable discussing because, At any given moment, someone may cross into this land mine territory.
But how can you set boundaries and promote a healthier relationship?
The truth is you have to start within:
The relationship you have with yourself.
Only then can you deal with a manipulator or difficult relationship.
I learnt about this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. In his genuine, free video on cultivating healthy relationships, he gives you the tools to plant yourself at the center of your world.
He covers some of the major mistakes most of us make in our relationships, such as codependency habits and unhealthy expectations. Mistakes most of us make without even realizing it.
So why am I recommending Rudá’s life-changing advice?
Well, he uses techniques derived from ancient shamanic teachings, but he puts his own modern-day twist on them. He may be a shaman, but his experiences in love weren’t much different to yours and mine.
Until he found a way to overcome these common issues. And that’s what he wants to share with you.
So if you’re ready to make that change today and cultivate healthy, loving relationships, relationships you know you deserve, check out his simple, genuine advice.
6) Keep the conversation light.
Ask loads of probing questions to make sure the person is thinking clearly. Some good examples of probing questions are:
“What do you do best?”
When you look back at the past, what were some of the things you did well?
By asking these open-ended questions, they’ll more likely open up and will give you more information.
7) Inject a sense of humor into the conversation
If it’s appropriate to do so, use humor to make the conversation more bearable.
You can poke fun at the situation or the problem by peppering things with a bit of humor.
You will know the invisible threshold that should not be crossed, so be sure that you don’t overdo it.
Too much humor might cause them to feel like you’re not taking them seriously or that you think their problem is not severe.
8) Encouragement, not advice.
Help them and encourage them to figure things out and also, don’t sugarcoat things for them.
Offer to assist them in finding solutions but don’t try to shield them from bad outcomes.
Instead of telling them what you would do in the situation, help them identify realistic goals that can help them turn the situation around.
9) Don’t be drawn into arguments.
Before you go into any conversation make sure that you are well prepared and don’t allow yourself to be sucked into destructive dynamics.
Remind them that you’re here to help and that arguing will not benefit anyone.
“I know this is important and I care too, but we seem to be going around in circles. Let’s pick this up later?”
10) Talk about the facts.
People who view themselves as victims will often try to tell their version of what happened and often ignore the factual information at hand.
If you find this happening throughout the conversation, politely inform them about the factual information you’re going on. This will draw them back to what’s essential.
11) Don’t pick sides
Be sure that you remain objective and help them identify specific unhelpful behaviors like shifting blame, complaining, and not taking responsibility.
At all costs, avoid being dragged into a “he said, she said” battle because it’s nothing but counterproductive.
A “ he said, she said” situation is not going to help anyone here.
12) Avoid labels
Don’t label them as victims, as this will make the situation worse. Chances are, they’ve already known that they’re stuck in a victim’s mentality.
They appeal to you to help them, so don’t slap a label on it if you want to make things worse.
13) Don’t say things you’ll regret
Don’t attack them, and be gentle; allow them to grow through your encouragement. After all, they’ve turned to you for your guidance, and if you get irritable or angry and say something in the heat of the moment, you will likely ruin their confidence in you.
As taxing as it is, you have a duty to help this person, so you must do what you can to help them improve.
14) Be the voice of reason.
Often people who have a victim mentality are not reasoning and speak from a place of fear.
What you need to do is influence them so that they will act more rationally. With this influence, you can help to delve deeper and get more significant insights into why they are feeling a certain way.
15) Don’t come down to their level, be authentic.
Dealing with someone who has a victim mentality can be downright exhausting. You will continually have to watch your words and navigate the conversation without blowing up a mine.
Avoid getting caught up in petty arguments and make it known that you are steering the conversation.
You might also be tempted to throw in the towel and give up.
They need your help and you are the best person for the job. Be who you are, don’t simply say things because you think they want to hear them. Help them with honesty and with a genuine and sincere heart.
There is no one size fits all approach, nor is there a magic pill you can dispense to help someone with this problem.
If you are struggling to cope with the victim mentality of a loved one, you must show them that you care about them and support them, even if it means engaging in these taxing conversations and situations.
After all, if a friend or loved one is in a constant state of misery, it leaves them feeling powerless and stuck which undoubtedly will negatively affect you at the end of the day.