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Mind Matters: Learn how to shake ‘victim mentality’

June 6, 2011

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While watching “Dancing With The Stars,” we heard Kirstie Alley say after her shoe fell off during one of her dances, her first thought was “why me”? She then said she realized she was in “victim mentality,” and she “snapped” herself out of it.

A lot of times anger, a bad mood or even depression may have victim mentality at its root. Victim consciousness involves self-pity and a sense that there is no choice in the experience. Thoughts that highlight and reinforce victim consciousness are “I can’t help it,” “It’s not my fault,” “Why bother?” or “This always happens to me.”

Victim mentality is a reactive state in which the individual takes no responsibility for the experience. It creates and reinforces a sense of powerlessness. One example is when someone struggles with overeating. “If it wasn’t for the food tasting so good I wouldn’t overeat.” Or perhaps one struggles with yelling a lot at his or her kids. “If the kids didn’t do something for me to yell at them about, I wouldn’t yell.”

The fact is even in our most difficult behavioral struggles there is a choice. Our environment may not always support that choice; however, it is our responsibility to act as our own advocate.

Taking responsibility means acting as your own parent. Being responsible means acting consciously. Even though the food tastes good, it is important to ask yourself how the food will serve you after you are done eating. Just this simple question can help you stay aware and make a responsible choice. When trying to avoid unnecessary yelling at your kids, you can remind yourself there are other ways to respond. You don’t want to be a victim of your children when they are just acting like children.

Victim consciousness happens quickly and often before we can catch it. Frequently unmet expectations are a trigger that sets off victim thoughts. Someone forgot your birthday, or didn’t do enough to celebrate it? Getting out of victim mentality is about focusing on what you can control, not what you can’t control. How you experience a situation is within your control.

When you are able to identify when you enter victim mentality, and find responsible ways to challenge it, you will feel empowered. It certainly seemed to work for Kirstie Alley.

— Ed Bloch, LSCSW, and Jena Bloch, LCMFT, are directors of the Life Enrichment Center in Lawrence.

Comments

equalaccessprivacy 4 years, 2 months ago

This is a wonderful, thoughtful article. I never thought by a long shot I'd see myself as a victim until I became the object of aggressive, unwanted attention--basically street harassment-- in Lawrence. Aggression does rob people of choices.

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