You can overcome victim mentality through a relationship with Christ and the Word of God. In this article I will discuss what a victim mentality is and show you how you can be free to live as a victor instead of a victim.
Let’s begin with the basics. Changing how you think is an important part of being a Christian. Numerous scriptures challenge us to look into our thinking:
1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us “But we have the mind of Christ.”
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
We are not supposed to just go on in the same way thinking the same old thoughts. We are to change our mindset! Do you have the mindset of a victim or a victor?
- VICTIM MENTALITY DEFINED:
I want to give you a definition and then I am going to give you some biblical examples of those who did have and did not have a victim mentality. Most of those who will read this article at one time or another have had a victim mentality. I know I have. There have been periods of time when my mind has succumbed to this mindset and it has had a paralyzing effect on me. I am writing today out of my own experience. As I studied the Word of God, I saw myself, I don’t live with this mentality but it has definitely touched my life.
As we discuss victim mentality, you may see yourself. I don’t want you to despair. This is actually the first step toward healing.
The Bible does not deny that there are victims in life:
“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”
There are people who have genuinely been victimized by others. But the psalmist tells us to commit ourselves to God. He is not only able to help a victimized person, but someone who has been influenced by a victim mentality.
A victim mentality is when you blame everyone else for what happens in your world.
A victim mentality is when a person thinks that the future only holds bad things for them.
Is this how you think? See if the scenarios below may not be how you sometimes think.
If a parent with a victim mentality’s child gets in a fight at school, it wasn’t their fault, it’s because the teacher wasn’t watching the room, and the other kid had it coming, and someone else told him to hit him. So their child didn’t do anything wrong or doesn’t need to take any responsibility-he was just a victim.
If you do not get the promotion it is because Mr. Johnson was out to get you. It wasn’t because he found you playing on the Internet every day. You are the victim, and after all, he never liked you from the beginning and you knew it.
If you had a motorcycle wreck, it’s not because you were drinking and driving, it’s because the motorcycle threw you and you were distracted by another car. You are the victim.
Your best friend called and said she could not have dinner with you because she needed to study. She is always doing that to you; not showing up. You’ll show her. You won’t invite her when you go out again!
Instead of remembering she has just started school and you did call her at the last minute.
The teacher in your Bible study asked Sally to answer the question, even though you had your hand up first. The people at that church really are not very nice. They are just a big click and you will always be on the outside.
How many of you see it? This is victim mentality and I could give dozens of other illustrations.
Satan wants every believer to think that others cause bad things in their life. Ultimately, He wants you bitter. He wants you unforgiving. He wants you constantly upset by things. He wants you feeling like you can’t do anything about it, that your life will never change. You will always be a victim. You will never get a fair shake.
This is how someone with a victim mentality thinks. They literally believe many lies and falsehoods.
Let’s leave victim mentality for a moment and think thoughts that are true for a moment. Life happens. It rains on the just and the unjust. As a human being on a fallen planet you will experience your fair share of hurts. And Satan wants you to believe that most of the time when bad stuff happens to us, we have no control, we have no recourse, but just to feel sorry for ourselves.
Don’t misunderstand me, sometimes there are people in the world, even Christians who are truly victims. There is probably not a single person reading this who hasn’t been a victim at one time or another in life. God understands that.
But God does not want that moment of victimization to become a mindset that will affect everything that happens to you in life. He doesn’t want you to spend the rest of your life wearing glasses that shade everything that happens to you. God wants you to have a different mindset. He wants you to have a mindset of an overcomer!
He wants you to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He wants you to be more than a conqueror through Christ. He wants you to be free from anger, bitterness, and revenge and malice. God wants you to have his mindset!
Yes, stuff happened in your childhood. Yes, your wife or girlfriend or boyfriend left. Yes, you got fired. Yes, you suffered a loss. But God wants you to have the mindset that as his child, good things are going to happen to you as well. As his child, you are an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus. You are a son or daughter of God. You have Christ power in your life to help you overcome!
Well I got hurt. I was emotionally wounded. I was greatly grieved by what happened. Then you need to come to Jesus and get healed. He is the balm of Gilead. He can wipe your tears away. The difference between an overcomer and someone who succumbs to being a victim is if they are willing to come and get healed and then adopt the mind of Christ.
Some people like being the victim. If I get to be the victim, the overindulged one, the entitled one, the misunderstood one, the abused one and the wronged one, then I don’t have to be responsible for myself. It is just that simple.
Persons who feel victimized are often people who have become negative and developed a strong sense of entitlement.
I read a story of a pastor who picked up an elderly lady to take her various places. He discovered she was on the bus line. Not only did she ask rides from the pastor, but from many other of her peers, almost all of them seniors. The pastor rushed in where angels fear to tread, and he asked her why she didn’t just take the bus. She got furious. Take the bus, that costs $1.00 each way and well she was poor and she didn’t have a dollar. Well, the pastor reasoned, the other people who give you rides don’t have a lot of money either! Don’t you give them money for gas? It is probably more than just a dollar or two. Why no! Absolutely not! They are wealthy enough to have cars. In her mind they can not only afford to give her a ride, she was entitled to that ride. Do you see what I am saying. She had a victim mentality.
Here are some other ways to spot a victim mentality:
- Victim mentality thinking will be seen in how they speak. They will usually take great pains to share their troubles and negativity with you.
- Victim mentality people are extremely self-centered. They will rarely if ever ask you anything about yourself. You can sit with these people for a couple of hours talking, and it will never occur to them to ask you anything about your life.
- Victim mentality causes one to complain about everything that happens to them. Nothing is ever their fault.
- Victim mentality thinking causes them to hold on to every injustice, every hurt, every pain and they refuse to let go.
After all, their mom had to raise 10 children and they didn’t have the nicest clothes. They weren’t raised in the best neighborhood, so if I keep getting into trouble, it’s not my fault. My dad had temper, I got the blunt end of it when I was a kid, and that is why I am entitled to show my anger from time. They have a victim mentality instead of an overcomer mentality. I am not belittling the facts of someone’s upbringing. People do get abused and some people have it hard.
I am saying the good news! God doesn’t want that victimization or hardship you experienced to affect your whole life. God wants you free.
You can overcome victim mentality!
EXAMPLES OF THOSE WHO WERE VICTIMIZED AND OVERCAME
Our supreme example of someone who was victimized but overcame a victim mentality is Jesus. It is difficult for me to watch the movie the Passion of the Christ when Jesus took the stripes upon his back.
That was only a portion of the humiliation he endured. They plucked out his beard. They spat upon him. They offered him vinegar to drink. They mocked his kingship. They put a crown of thorns on his head. The hung him to a cross. And Jesus was completely innocent. In him was found no deceit, no guile, no sin of any kind! If anyone had a right to have a victim mentality it would be Jesus. Can you imagine how much differently we would look at Christ if He had been constantly complaining about His ill treatment and how ‘everyone’ was making His life so difficult? Can you imagine if he came out of the grave vowing vengeance? Can you imagine if after his resurrection he walked around feeling sorry for himself.
But, instead, we see Christ at His lowest moment refusing to let His critics, accusers, and murderers bring Him down. 1 Peter 2:22-23, Peter writes, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly”
Jesus put himself in the hands of God who judges justly! There is no victim mentality in Jesus! In fact, even while they were crucifying him he said father forgive them. He is not bitter about what happened.
He shows us how to live out being a victor!
Think of Paul the apostle, thrown in jail for the cause of Christ. He is sitting in a cold dark damp prison cell. We know that he wrote the book of Philippians from jail. Yet there is no moaning his current condition. There is no self-pity party. There is no anger expressed toward those who put him there.
There is no vengeance being plotted. In fact, one of the major themes of the book is rejoicing. I contend that Paul put on the mind of Christ. And instead of being a victim became an overcomer! He overcame victim mentality.
Look at the positive mindset he has in Philippians 1:12-14 “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
And then there was Joseph, remember him? Sold into slavery by his own brothers. They faked his murder to cover it up. Falsely accused by a woman who wanted to seduce him, and then because of that was thrown into a prison. Forgotten about by a man to whom he had ministered to and had promised to remember him. He could have walked around a chip on his shoulder. He could have expected for everyone to feel so sorry for him.
But instead his sterling character allowed him to become the second in charge of the land. There was no victim mentality in him because when his father died and his brothers were afraid of them, he was more concerned with their worries than he was of his own. He was able to overcome victim mentality.
Genesis 50:19-21 “But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”
Someone with a victim mentality is not going to do that because victim mentality causes you to focus on yourself, not on others.
EXAMPLES OF THOSE WITH A VICTIM MENTALITY:
Saul clearly showed a victim mentality in 1 Samuel 13. The Philistines had come out to attack Israel. Saul was there with his men and he is waiting for the Samuel to get there. Samuel is going to offer the sacrifices and enquire of the Lord. But Saul gets impatient. He decides to do what he knows is wrong and he goes ahead of Samuel and he offers the sacrifices.
About the time that Saul gets done offering the sacrifices. Samuel shows up. Saul had disobeyed the Lord by offering the sacrifices. But I want you to look at the victim mentality he had. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. 1 Samuel 13:11-12 “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
Notice how Saul was not the one who had messed up. He takes no responsibility for it. Look who he blames. The men were scattering. The Philistines were assembling. And Samuel, you didn’t come at the set time. It’s not my fault. I am a victim. I am a victim of my circumstances.
One big problem a lot of people have is that they slip into thinking of themselves as victims that have little or no control over their lives. You feel sorry for yourself, the world seems to be against you and you get stuck. Either you wallow in hopelessness and despair, or you do things you know you wouldn’t normally do.
HOW CAN I OVERCOME VICTIM MENTALITY?
Here are a few practical steps to be set free from a victim mentality.
- Know the benefits of a victim mentality.
There are some very subtle benefits to thinking as a victim. Let me give you those benefits:
- Attention and validation. You can always get good feelings from other people as they are concerned about you and try to help you out. On the other hand, it may not last for that long as people get tired of it. And people learn how to play the victim. Some people speak of their financial woes everywhere they go. They always have a story to tell and the telling of it gives them attention and validation.
- You don’t have to take risks. When you feel like a victim you tend to not take action and then you don’t have to risk for example rejection or failure. Life is about risk taking. If you take a job, you risk being fired. You risk failure. It’s easier just to play the victim and let someone else look after you.
- You don’t have to take the sometimes heavy responsibility. Taking responsibility for you own life can be hard work, you have to make difficult decisions. In the short term it can feel like the easier choice to not take personal responsibility. So you play the role of the victim.
In my experience, by just being aware of the benefits I can derive from victim thinking it becomes easier to say no to that and to choose to take a different path.
2. Be okay with not being the victim.
To break out of that mentality you have to give up the benefits we just talked about. You might also experience a sort of emptiness within when you let go of victim thinking. You may have spent hours each week with thinking and talking about how wrong things have gone for you in life. Or how people have wronged you and how you could get some revenge or triumph over them.
Now you have to fill your life with new thinking that may feel uncomfortable because it is not so intimately familiar as the victim thinking you have been engaging in for years. You have to begin to think, how can I advance out of this.
Instead of bemoaning your minimum wage job, you start thinking, maybe I can go back to school. Instead of sitting in the house feeling sorry for yourself that your friends left you, you are out making new friends. Instead of having a pity party you decide to do something to encourage someone else.
Instead of plotting revenge, you leave it in the hands of God, and forgive and walk away.
3. Take responsibility for your life.
No matter what may have caused you to fall into victim mentality thinking, it is your responsibility to get out of it. You have to quit blaming and feeling sorry for yourself and rake responsibility for your life
That is truly one of the fundamental underlying principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is about taking responsibility. Romans 14:12 “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
Do you mean to tell me pastor I have to give an account of my life! Absolutely! The gospel is about taking responsibility. Victim mentality says, I am too much of a victim to be able to have to be responsible.
I think sometimes we do people great disservice when we help them too much. Even people who are handicapped can be helped too much so that they adopt a mentality that they can do anything by themselves.
You do what you have to do in order to take responsibility for your life. I was talking one of the men here in the church. He is one of the smartest men I know. He can fix anything. He is a supervisor in his work. He has a great job and great responsibility. But he told a few months ago about a period of time 15-20 years ago, he took a job as a janitor of a school just to make ends meet. He could have chosen to be a victim. But instead he chose to take responsibility for his life.
You feel so much better about yourself if you only take personal responsibility for your own life.
4. Be grateful for what you do have in life.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
If you find yourself thinking like a victim, just ask yourself this question: “Does someone have it worse on the planet than I do?” By the way, the answer to that is yes! The answer may not result in positive thoughts, but it can sure snap you of a somewhat childish “poor, poor me…” attitude pretty quickly.
We have to understand that we have much to be grateful for in life.
This question changes our perspective from a narrow, self-centered one into a much wider one. It helps us to lighten up about our situation. After I have changed my perspective I usually ask another question like: “What is the hidden opportunity within this situation?” That is very helpful to keep your focus on how to solve a problem or get something good out a current situation. Rather than asking yourself “why?” over and over and thereby focusing on making yourself feel worse and worse. Ask yourself what opportunity is there here for me? What can God do?
5. Stop Complaining.
As we have said, much of the complaining by one who is constantly playing the ‘victim’ is merely to keep attention on self. The apostle Paul also told those in Philippi, Philippians 2:14 “Do all things without complaining and disputing” At one point in my life I got some real good advice from my dad in law. He said don’t be a complainer because God doesn’t like complainers.
Instead of thinking about how ‘bad’ you have been treated or how ‘bad’ your life is, why not count your blessings? Do you have good health? Be thankful! Do you have a faithful spouse? Be thankful! Do you have a home? Be thankful!
Or maybe you should just stop and think about what you don’t have: you don’t have a fatal disease; you don’t have to dodge bullets to go shopping; you don’t face persecutions from those who would kill you because of your faith. I am sure we could go on with the list!
And then finally if you want to be free you must
It’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking that forgiveness is just about something you “should do”. But forgiving can in a practical way be extremely beneficial for you. One of the best reasons to forgive can be found in this quote by Catherine Ponder:
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”
As long as you don’t forgive someone you are linked to that person. Your thoughts will return to the person who wronged you and what she or he did over and over again. The emotional link between the two of you is so strong and inflicts much suffering in you and – as a result of your inner turmoil – most often in other people around you too. When you forgive you do not only release the other person.
You set yourself free too from all of that agony.
Sometimes in life you will have to face the pain and deal with it. I am not saying hurts and offenses never come. I want to tell you something you can just about be assured of. You are going to be disappointed and let down somehow and someway in the next five years by someone. And sometimes it is more than just a disappointment, it can be a deep hurt.
But I also want to assure you that when you forgive, you find freedom and healing from those things so by all means forgive.
Hebrews 12:12-15 “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
God has given us so many promises in his word that if we will just take a few and dwell on them, he will supernaturally move us forward. He allows us to go through the valley to strengthen us, but sooner or later we will come through if we continue to trust in him and his word.
I believe that you will overcome victim mentality by doing those things listed above. Be a victor not a victim!