Have you ever encountered a person who seems to be perpetually moping around about their problems (which seem to be astronomically more catastrophic than anyone else’s), complaining about all things under the sun and feeling as if everyone and everything is out to harm them? Well, this is known as the Victim Mentality and it is an acquired personality trait whereby a person always feels like they are being persecuted by others or by life in general. They always feel attacked or that everyone else is to blame for their misfortunes and unhappiness.
No one is born with a victim mentality because, as I mentioned before, it is an acquired condition. It is usually the result of some sort of trauma like physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional abuse. The person might have truly been victimized at one point and has now developed this type of mentality as a coping mechanism. It can also be the result of how the person witnessed their parents had acted while they were growing up. They picked up and mimicked their parent’s toxic behaviour and carried it into their adulthood. They’ve never known anything else so to them this is normal.
These types of people feel that life is so unfair to them and that they are the direct aim of a series of never ending tragedies. It turns into a game of finger pointing and blaming everyone but themselves. They never seem to take responsibility over anything, not event their own emotions. Often times you’ll hear them say “YOU made me get angry.” or “YOU made me feel like I had to shout at you.” or “YOU made me feel miserable.”
It’s always someone else who “made” them do a certain thing, react a certain way or feel a certain way.
They always feel like they don’t have a choice and that they are powerless to change a situation that they don’t like. They stay in that unfavourable circumstance because they want to have a “right” to complain and try to gain sympathy and pity from others. They want to hear people say that they don’t deserve what they are going through, even if it is a consequence of their previous actions.
You might also notice that this person is very pessimistic and dwells on their hurtful past. They enjoy reliving and retelling all the bad things that have happened to them. This is one of the ways how they gain sympathy from others, or at least try to. If you don’t agree that they’ve lived the worst life ever, they might get upset with you and tell you that you wouldn’t understand because you’re better off than they are anyway (even if that isn’t true). They also always seem to be in what I like to call a “tragedy competition” with others. This simply means that they’re constantly trying to one-up other people’s woes. This results in them constantly feeling sorry for themselves. Even when things are going good for them… they’ll still find something to complain about.
Being close to a person who has this type of mentality can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. You might experience getting blamed and attacked for making them feel sad or angry, when that mightn’t even be the case. They blow their problems way out of proportion and you constantly hear them unnecessarily ranting and complaining. They might also try to manipulate and control you by telling you what they want to hear you say or how you should respond to their problems. Bottom line is that if you don’t agree with them, then you’re attacking them. This isn’t a healthy relationship to uphold because you either need to be a hypocrite and agree with them all the time or voice your honest opinion and suddenly you’re being accused of trying to harm them somehow.
You’ve got your own problems and responsibilities to deal with so you shouldn’t have to also carry the burden of someone else’s happiness. While they might enjoy having that “poor me” attitude, you might be someone who, in spite of the bad things that might be going on in your life, you still try to keep a positive outlook. Don’t let them drain you emotionally. It’s okay to distance yourself from this person for periods of time.
Don’t even spend time trying to be their counselor because the fact of the matter is that they enjoy feeling the way they do. This is because whenever someone shows a bit of sympathy or pity towards them, the message they receive is that “This person cares about me.” or “This person loves me.” This encourages their behaviour even more and they’ll never want to break away from it.
The victim mentality behavioural pattern is detrimental to the person who harbours it as well as those who surround them. It destroys relationships and it robs the person of their true potential. It’s easy to get angry and frustrated with them, but remember that it is a mental condition that they can’t help. They don’t see anything wrong with their perception of life and how they go about handling things. Be empathetic towards them but don’t encourage their behaviour.
If you know anyone like this then try to seek professional help for them. Not only will it improve your quality of life, but more importantly their life will be better as well.