4.7. The “Victim Mentality”

The concept of a “victim mentality” is abusive when it becomes an excuse to blame victims.

Read about self-improvement long enough…and eventually you’ll come across the notion of the “victim mentality.”

It’s a real thing. But it’s also a massively overused and abused term—to the point of not being very helpful.

We all lack control over many things that happen to us. And we’re all harmed by some of those things that happen.

Accumulate enough wounds and scars…and we start to come to expect it.

We start to get tense, paranoid, and defensive. We start to embrace coping mechanisms. Instead of greeting each day with enthusiasm, we start to wonder what fresh hell it’s going to bring.

This is all entirely natural.

It happens to everybody who experiences unpreventable, uncontrollable distress in their lives.

That unpleasant clenching, mistrust, and lashing out that becomes your normal state, in other words, is part of the injury itself.

It’s not just the actual act itself that causes harm. The way it changes you—even years after the act is over—is part of the suffering too.

So there’s a good intention there, in the concept of the “victim mentality.”

It’s about not letting your wounds live on in you. It’s about feeling healthy, happy, and empowered again. It’s about not letting whoever victimized you have the satisfaction of making you miserable, even months or years after the event has ended.

But the concept of a “victim mentality” becomes abusive when it becomes an excuse to blame victims and avoid dealing with real injustices.

This is otherwise known as the “we all have problems, suck it up” argument.

We all do have problems…and some of us have objectively worse problems than others.

Shaming people for not getting over their “victim mentality” is cruel. You don’t know them, and you don’t know their pain. Lumping their problems with your lesser problems—and making it seem like there’s something wrong with them for not processing their pain quickly enough—is just a convenient way to make yourself feel superior.

But that having been said—don’t toss out the whole concept entirely, just because it’s so often misused.

However the pain got in you in the first place, there are some places nobody but you can reach, some messes nobody but you can clean up.

It sucks. But that’s the way it goes.

Don’t think of it as a chore to clean up those messes. Think of it as an opportunity, a liberation, a revitalization—a purging of all the nastiness that others have intentionally or unintentionally inflicted on you.

You don’t have to feel so beaten down. You can overcome whatever’s been thrown at you, if you work at it in good faith, and don’t get discouraged even if it takes a while.

Just keep at it. Life’s too short to stay shackled to your pain.


This is the 67th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *