Do you ever practice or feel trapped in the practice of victim mentality? If so, it’s time to understand some of what’s going on so that you can muster the courage to shift this and live a healthier life.
Author Rebecca L. Norrington writes in her soon-to-be-published book, RealitySpirituality: The Truth About Happiness (April 2014), that even Superman had his kryptonite. She’s right. And there may be a larger number of us who are not immune to this feeling and practice of victim mentality than are immune, including those who are otherwise quite strong emotionally, mentally, and spiritually (in fact, it’s the strong ones who hang onto dysfunctional relationships longer, because they aren’t quitters). However, let’s keep victims of crimes out of this conversation and focus solely on those who live with a victim mentality in everyday life and what this means.
First of all, it means that when you practice victim mentality, there must be one or more oppressors (though one is enough, thank you) in your immediate vicinity and or farther afield who are more than ready and able to “assist” you with that experience. You can’t have one without the other. Now, either the oppressor does not have a victim mentality or does and has grasped the opportunity to become an oppressor of anyone who also has a victim mentality and therefore will put up with that treatment.
Anyone with a long-held victim mentality more than likely grew up with at least one person who had some form of personality disorder in their midst, such as a narcissist, sociopath (though narcissists are sociopaths), or some other disorder, diagnosed and treated or not. The patterns of these behaviors and their effects became so familiar and ingrained (and “effective”) in childhood that those with a victim mentality continue to attract other narcissists (or those with other disorders) into their life—to help them to choose and learn how to release victim mentality taken on as a result of their early-years experience.
This article will focus on narcissism for a few reasons: 1) all of us express some of the characteristics from time to time (especially if we are or have been in a relationship of any kind with a narcissist), so we want to be aware of their expression forms; and 2) there are likely far more narcissists out there than known about since they typically don’t seek assistance or aren’t accurately diagnosed and treated (they are consummate actors who deflect attention from them onto others who they say are the “problem”), or end therapy early on, so can’t be accurately or approximately counted in statistics.
If you’re not familiar with narcissistic characteristics, here’s what is taken from Doreen Virtue’s book, Assertiveness for Earth Angels, which she obtained from the Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) that says a person who has this disorder has at least five of these characteristics.
- A grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., the individual exaggerates achievements and talents and expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
- A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
- A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
- A need for excessive admiration.
- A sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations); interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
- A lack of empathy (is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others).
- Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her.
- A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Doreen also states that “A narcissist surrounds him- or herself with people who agree with him or her, and anyone who dares to raise questions will be removed. A narcissist is terribly insecure and jealous, and views people and animals as objects to stroke his or her ego.” This can be challenging behavior to be around for anyone. For an Earth Angel, it’s even more so because they see what’s really going on, but their spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects are to be nice and to play nice: they are genuinely kind and caring. These angels, or anyone whose nature is genuinely caring, is like nectar to a narcissist: narcissists, who feel emptiness of Self all the time, need to “feed” off of others’ energy continuously.
Melanie Tonia Evans finally removed herself from a relationship with a narcissist and reinvented herself and her life; and she makes it clear that her information applies to anyone who is a narcissist, not just a life partner or spouse. She also states that those with strong narcissistic tendencies can be helped, whereas those with severe narcissism cannot. In her online article titled “Narcissism Understood,” which I highly recommend you read, as well as her two free e-books, if you suspect or know you’re in a relationship of any kind with a narcissist, says, “A narcissist feels terrorized at the thought of vulnerability (being emotionally honest), and develops a pathological false self to guard the unresolved emotional wounds…. Have you loved a person who is never wrong, never sorry and believes it is always someone else’s fault? Have you ever experienced an individual who’s non-accountable for their behaviour and doesn’t learn despite the mayhem and pain they produce? Have you witnessed an individual who has no tolerance for the slightest criticism, even when given constructive advice....
“The most massive (and initially devastating) realisation that’s necessary to assimilate, in order to pull away and create authentic love, is that the narcissist is incapable of genuine love and empathy. His purpose for creating a love relationship is for two reasons. Firstly, to secure narcissistic supply (attention), and secondly, to have an outlet to project his internal pain and torture onto. Relationship partners who are hooked and ‘hang on’ make the perfect subjects to abuse…. Have you ever been in a relationship with an individual who demands your attention incessantly and becomes depressed, sulky and even full of rage if your attention goes elsewhere? This is one of the earliest warning signs of a narcissist. Please understand healthy adults do not behave in such a way.”
And here’s where anyone with a victim mentality comes in: “Compliant co-dependants believe in unconditional love. They will tolerate being damaged and feel sorry for the other person, yet in reality co-dependents are terrified about laying boundaries and taking control of their own lives. Boundary function is imperative protection against a narcissistic individual. Co-dependents love so much it hurts; whereas their self-development lies in learning to love themselves enough to stop the pain. When a co-dependent teams up with a narcissist (and many do) they will have their scant boundaries disintegrated and end up tolerating behaviour and abuse that they never thought they would. They will try again and again to prove their love, devotion and loyalty to the narcissist, all the way to their self-demise. Why is this exercise futile? Because the narcissists who cannot accept themselves (and have deep self-loathing) can’t accept love, intimacy and commitment from another, and are powerless to grant and sustain these commodities with another. It’s an impossibility to give inner resources that simply don’t exist…. Narcissists are angry children in adult bodies.” She added that narcissists detest those they fool and control; they detest everyone, especially themselves. You cannot win with a narcissist; you can only stop being an energy source for them. This is terribly sad to realize, but an important fact to be aware of.
If you have experienced victim mentality, or still do, you may have noticed that “opportunities” to confront this unresolved matter increase in energy and severity over time. It’s as though the Universe is asking you what it will take for you to pull yourself out of this mentality or how big of a “stick” will you have to be whacked with before you get angry enough to say, “Enough!” If you shift the pattern of victim in your mind to no-longer-a-victim, you’ll stop attracting such types to you. I’m not saying you’ll never bump into such types again, but if you do, you’ll be better able to recognize the signs early on and deal with them sooner and better, or know to walk away and not feel bad about it: You will have saved yourself years of agony and given yourself the chance to have a loving, fulfilled, and joyful life. You won’t get lost in feelings of inferiority or believe that you deserve such treatment. You don’t deserve it.
In Doreen’s book she talks about how Earth Angels don’t like conflict and confrontation—because that’s not their true nature. If you’re an Earth Angel, this is why you find yourself with a victim mentality: You don’t like to hurt anyone (it hurts you to do this) and you want everyone to be happy. But this can be carried too far, and at your expense (and a narcissist, or person with another disorder, will “eat you alive” until there’s nothing left, if you let it go that far). Two outcomes are feared by Earth Angels: Your suppressed anger and frustration will explode out of you one day and you’ll say or do things you can’t take back and know will make you feel un-angel-like or you’ll become apathetic (also un-angel-like), because you are exhausted on all levels. And soon you, just like anyone else, find yourself feeling miserable and unable to figure out what to do to “fix the other person,” which is not only impossible, but also not your job, and also entraps you in judgment, which is another mind-prison.
Maintaining the practice of victim mentality causes you to hold anger and depression in your energy field. You wear frustration like a heavy wool coat in summer. That energy has to go somewhere, and it will likely go into your body and manifest as some form of imbalance or illness: physical, mental, spiritual, or all three. The extreme of this is when someone practices victim mentality with themselves more than anyone else does it to them. To get into the frame of mind that starts you on the path out of victim mentality, you have to ask yourself some uncomfortable questions, such as: What do I really get out of this? Why do I believe I deserve this? Why do I hesitate to take care of myself in the right way, despite what anyone says or does, or might?
Doreen talks about being assertive, because anyone who practices victim mentality needs to practice assertiveness, not aggressiveness, which would only feed the narcissist as much as being silent. If you’ve been in a long-term relationship with someone who has a disorder, you may need extra, qualified assistance to get past victim mentality. Understand that it may take a while to clear yourself of the long-held toxic beliefs that have kept you in this mentality. But this is a learned mindset that you can unlearn. And, please keep in mind that victim mentality is really only a practice, because all of us are powerful expressions of the One Consciousness: Victim is not who we really are.
You have to get to the point where you are no longer willing to not speak up for yourself, but you also want to be as balanced and as objective as you possibly can. Find a way to say what you need to say to make your point, while causing as little emotional pain to yourself as possible; but don’t be afraid of the pain a person might choose to feel if you speak your truth with assertiveness and integrity. It’s to your benefit to do so. And in some instances, you may have to walk away from the relationship, although, Evans says no contact or modified contact is the only way to deal with a severe narcissist. Be clear about this: if you’re dealing with a narcissist (or some other disorder), any attempt to rationalize with them about better behavior is a form of feeding them: they’ve still got you dancing to their tune and giving them nearly all or all of your attention and life force.
To get out of victim mentality, you have to be done with being a doormat. This can be frightening, if not terrifying, in some situations. What helps is to realize you don’t have to do it all at once. You can do it in small steps, small steps of speaking up for yourself and or taking action on your behalf in an assertive way. If you tremble or can barely get your voice to work, say what you need to say or do what you need to do anyway. Establish and honor your boundaries. Each time you do this you’ll get stronger and stronger.
Victim mentality holds you back. There’s no way it can’t. You can’t be and live as your authentic self if you practice victim mentality. You can’t take necessary, calculated risks that take you higher and higher in life or into your purpose. You can’t feel whole and good, especially about yourself, when you practice victim mentality. You can’t be true to yourself or truly yourself with others. You may also give more mental and emotional attention to the oppressor(s) in your life than to you and your own life. This practice must shift, and you want to research the best ways to do this because it will be tempting to stay fixed in blame about the oppressor(s) or rehashing in your mind over and over what they’ve done, which is still not the focus and energy on your life and mind patterns that are needed.
Grasp the Truth that your worth is not dependent on anyone—it is a given as an expression of the One Consciousness that you are. You are especially not to believe what a narcissist or anyone with a disorder tells you about yourself: They’ll tell you negatives in order to keep you jumping and asking how high to jump next in order to satisfy them, which is impossible. Afraid or not, begin to speak up for yourself and or take right action. Begin to honor your right to be and to be treated appropriately, and to be in the company of those who demonstrate healthier behaviors and genuine love and caring. It’s the way to be your authentic self and express your true gift and divine light in the world. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer