President, Lefkoe Institute

People with the mentality of victimization are less likely to have successful personal and professional relationships.

June 29, 2011
What is the chance of success in business if you see yourself as a victim—someone who views his life through the filter: “It’s not my fault. They did it to me.” When you understand what victimization really is, where it comes from, and how it affects people, you will discover it is more widespread and debilitating than you might think.

The primary source of feeling victimized is the sense of powerlessness. Since we don’t like that feeling, we tend to blame someone or something for causing it. Ultimately, we feel we are victims of circumstances or other people’s actions and helpless.

In the world of business we tend to blame the government, competition, the economy, and luck—there is always something outside of ourselves that we blame for what is happening.

The single most important mindset responsible for this is: I’m powerless. Other underlying beliefs include: I’ll never get what I want, everything is a burden, people can’t be trusted, and life is difficult.

Feeling victimized is so debilitating because it undermines your ability to do anything about your situation. If you are having difficulties in any area of your life, like relationships or money, and you envision yourself as powerful and in control, you can devise an improvement strategy. And if one solution doesn’t work, you can try again.

You’ve probably seen two people facing a similar situation: One sees it as a problem caused by something outside his control and feels helpless to do anything about it, the other sees it as a welcome challenge and feels confident she will be able to resolve the situation to her advantage.

A victim mentality is one of the most devastating problems you can have. If you have any other problem, but see yourself as responsible for your situation, you have the ability to look for and implement a solution. If you feel victimized by life or other people, you are less likely to look a solution because you feel you can’t do anything about your situation.

Most victims can be identified by their conversation, which consists of a lot of “it’s not my fault” language.  However, there also is the “stoic” victim. Such people do not complain, but underneath they experience a sense of victimization.

Here are a few other important characteristics of victims:

  • Victims don’t see that the common thread between the situations they think they have been victimized in is them.
  • Victims are people you can’t depend on, because they deny responsibility for their actions. They are quick to blame other people and situations for anything that doesn’t work in their lives.
  • Victims don’t have resilience and are generally passive.
  • Victims are usually angry at the people or events they think have done them wrong, and underneath the feeling of anger is almost always the feeling of powerlessness.
  • Successful people are rarely victims. One might be able to be a victim and still make money in rare cases, but usually it would be difficult to be successful. To be successful you need to learn from your mistakes and try again.

If you are a victim or know someone else who is, what can you do to help yourself or the other person?  The source of this problem is similar to the source of almost every other problem: Your beliefs. Reality and other people are not causing you to feel like a victim—your beliefs are. Get rid of the beliefs that cause the problem and the feeling of victimization will disappear for good.