Victim Mentality

What does it even mean to be a victim? To settle this for myself, I found a three-part definition.

Victim:  a person harmed or injured, a person tricked or duped, a person who suffers injury or destruction




Victim: A person harmed or injured

When one becomes harmed or injured, we first grapple with the affects.  The validity of what has occurred shouldn’t be denied.  For a time and depending on the type and severity, we need to melt down and allow ourselves the time to feel miserably about what has occurred.

As for Wallowing?  I have a rule:  At first I must!  But don’t gather dust.  After a time of upset or grief, I know I need to begin working toward healing.

I’ve been harmed and injured enough to know how important it is to correctly heal.  If a bone isn’t set right, it will remain painful and deformed, our soul is no different.




Victim: A person tricked or duped

“A company of wolves is better than a company of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”  ~Unknown

I think most of us have been a victim of this!  “Be careful who you are charmed by, instead of thinking someone is charming, it’s first wise to ask whyyyy they might be charming you?”

That was some of the best advice I’ve been given. Strong connections that happen quickly are now a red flag for me.  Along with someone telling me (or posting) how marvelous and good hearted they are.  I have fallen for manufactured sincerity and false kindness more times than I could ever count (and paid dearly for it).  It’s not selfish to be cautious, it’s healthy.

As much as being duped or tricked might have happened when dealing with a loved one in the grips of active SUD (as discussed on a recent Coming Up for Air podcast), due to my dysfunctional family background and fractured confidence, for me it most often occurred in friendships with women.

I used to open myself up completely, only to get hurt by the same types of betrayals and manipulations over and over again.  I would repeatedly cry and complain about the same old scenarios, but then put myself back around it.  Sometimes for years.

At some point, I decided to take the reins of my life and not play the part of someone easy to prey on.




Victim: A person who suffers injury or destruction

Interesting to me that the word suffers in this part of the definition is present tense.

I am acutely aware that if I allow myself, I could mentally rehearse events from before, even from a few years ago and end up down a rabbit hole of bitterness.  I choose not to because I don’t want to suffer presently for injuries that are behind me.

A few weeks ago, I complained to an old friend about an insulting comment from one relative of mine to another on social media.  Having experienced something similar from the same person, my friend went into a heated rant about having the same type of insult happen yet another time…when he was in seventh grade.

Telling it, he was as angry and affected as if he had just experienced it.  I didn’t know how to console that, other than to bring the conversation forward, look at what is happening now and figure out how best to proceed through it.

Comparably, when my son played baseball we spent a season traveling with four families from out of state.  I never forgot a divorced couple in the group, who both seemed fun and friendly. However as soon as her ex-husband was out of ear shot, the ex-wife would openly discuss embarrassing personal things about him and members of his family. Detailing what a disappointment he’d been to be married to. This was frequently in front of their children.

Often ending her awkward narrative with a lament about how, being stuck with this divorce and the children she is raising alone, she will “never have a healthy relationship…all because of him.”

It was astonishing that she was that stuck in blame.  And so caught in her perceived injuries from years prior, that she didn’t notice people were uncomfortable hearing about it.  By the same token, we came to respect him for never once speaking ill of her.

I believe we become blinded by our bitterness.  This woman could have made the best of a disappointing situation, instead of dragging others back through it for years to come.

We may be injured and even for a time, destroyed.  But we don’t have to continue suffering for years to come.  That part is our choice.


Pain, rejection, betrayal, loss, failure and so on, these things come to interrupt us as we journey forward in life.  We aren’t supposed sit down permanently in those interruptions.

Recently, I heard a successful speaker say something I loved: “I may have been thrown under the bus, but I kept getting up and now I’m driving it.”

She rose up from her own past and personal heartache to go on and make a huge career out of helping people better themselves.


I decided years ago for myself that I would overcome and try to triumph through the hard times, instead of getting stuck and being a victim of the hand I was dealt.  If that meant I had to read self-help books until my eyeballs fell out, spend every extra dollar on therapy, meditate and pray until I was in a coma and hit every support group available, I’d do it!

Recovery works.

I’m personally determined not to spend my life stuck in what didn’t go well.   I decided I wanted to have a life! 


No blame in my game

If I catch myself growing bitter toward a person or situation, I stop and ask myself, “Who am I blaming my life on?”  The truth is, I’m responsible for my own life.  Taking charge separates me from the internal bonfire of resentment that is always ready to rise up if I have someone to point a finger at for how I’ve been let down.

See ya later Self-pity

Self-pity is defined as “The self-indulgent belief that my life is harder and sadder than anyone else’s.”

Taking the pulse of how sorry I feel for me, reminds me to focus forward.  I have much to be thankful for and even more life ahead, it’s up to me to go after it.

We can choose fluid forgiveness versus forced remorse

When possible, I don’t make an issue of getting an apology. If I was still waiting on an apology for every slight and disappointment in my life, I’d be the unhappiest person imaginable.

I can’t spend my life depending on someone else’s remorse in order to let go and get over it. When it comes to this, I think of my life as a stream, I like to keep the current flowing forward.

I’m no one’s doormat and I am no one’s dartboard.  But if I do get stomped on, or have darts thrown at me, I know it will hurt, it might even drop me.  But I’m going to recover, rise and keep running this race.


Working the damages through, recovery IS possible

When my son read my book Unhooked, he called to tell me he hadn’t known a few things from my childhood.  Like how I lost hearing in my right ear or how it happened.  Nor did he know many of the profoundly difficult circumstances through my early school years.

We talked about some of that, along with how far we’ve come.

Laughing about some of the craziness we’ve lived through I asked him, “And can you believe no one told me I was going to kindergarten??”  He responded “No really I can’t.  But, you’re okay.”

I loved that response.

Because yeah, I am.  I’m okay. I am no victim.

I don’t deny and avoid hurt or harm by any means.  I just choose to feel it, face it, work it through and flourish.

I love that my son didn’t marinate in my misery, in fact he wasn’t even aware of most of it! My hope is that my personality, as well as my life, show no real evidence of past heartache and injury.

Recovery is possible.

 Life is what we make it


Author of books: Unhooked, and Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache

Host of:  The Unhooked Podcast

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For information, comfort, encouragement and support:

Codependents Anonymous

Parent Support – TAPU

Family Recovery Support