Life can be tough. Dysfunctional families, health issues, work problems and relationship difficulties can all…
by Carolyn Hughes
There are times when life brings disappointment, adversity and tragedy, and when it does “Why me?” is a natural question to ask. But if “Why me?” has become a regular feature of your thinking, then you could be living with a victim mentality.
The Trouble with a Victim Mentality
Whether unconsciously or consciously, your thinking determines the choices you make. Your choices then determine your behavior and this, in turn, determines how we are perceived by others. Therefore, if you think with a victim mentality, you make your decisions based on fear – fear of shame, fear of scarcity, fear of pain.
Consequently, you behave in a way that is defensive, paranoid and demanding. Thinking from this position of inadequacy and inferiority results in a self-fulfilling prophesy. That which you were trying to prevent has transpired as a result of your own thoughts and actions.
A “Why me?” attitude can drag you into a downward spiral of psychological difficulties and physical problems. Addiction and depression, for example, can be signs that you are trapped in a destructive cycle of negative thinking.
Similarly, if you know someone who has a victim mentality, you’ll notice that their recurring pessimistic attitude doesn’t just rob them of joy and happiness. Their assumptions that they are unique in their suffering, that they are misunderstood by everyone, and that they will never find an end to their situation can leave you emotionally drained.
Although you may naturally wish to avoid contact, the best way to help someone with a victim mentality and support your own well-being is to define some boundaries within the relationship and stick to them. It is possible to be empathic and supportive in a measured way based on a positive outlook.
From Victim to Survivor
There will be times in life when events are overwhelming and you question why you should experience this trauma rather than someone else. But the reality is that bad things do happen to good people and tragedies occur whether or not they are explained. At such times it’s important to seek the right support to begin the process of recovery.
However, if it feels that every day brings distress and you fear the worst in every situation, you will continue to live as a victim. You don’t have to live with this prophesy of doom. Here are 10 ways to shake the “Why me?” mentality:
- Realize that the only person standing in the way of your personal empowerment and optimism is you.
- Decide to accept that what has happened in the past cannot be changed. Nothing can be undone or unsaid, so remember that we learn from the past but we live in the present.
- Stop contemplating the terrible things that have gone wrong and how they made you feel. That doesn’t mean suppressing or denying the past, rather it is making a decision to store those memories out of the way of your thinking today to allow positive thoughts in.
- If the “Why me?” voice starts to take over, focus on the present moment. Just because something bad has happened before, don’t automatically assume that the future will bring more of the same.
- Just as there is a cycle of negativity that keeps you trapped in the victim mentality, so too is there a sequence of positivity which enables you to live as a survivor. We can’t control our circumstances but we can think from a position of positive expectation, which will determine our actions and consequently how we are perceived by others.
- Confront your belief that you have been singled out for tragedy. Everyone will find themselves between a rock and a hard place at some point, but not everyone chooses to stay there.
- Reach out for help to identify your underlying fears and to define the true nature of your problem. Getting your life into perspective can help you realize that things really aren’t as bad as you anticipated.
- Develop an attitude of gratitude. Make it a daily practice to stop worrying about what you don’t have and appreciate everything that you do have instead.
- Simply surviving and existing from day to day isn’t living, so start planning some goals and reaching for some dreams. Expecting the best from yourself and more from others will attract the best into your life.
- Even if you don’t feel happy, you can still decide to be happy and that in itself can improve your mood. Research has shown that simply behaving in sociable and positive ways can result in you feeling happier.
Decide today to make changes so that when life throws you a challenge, you no longer think “Why me?” Instead, you can relax and say “Why not me?”