When I was little and hurt myself, sometimes I would cry. If no one came running, I remember crying harder, louder and longer until one of my parents would come to comfort me even if I wasn’t feeling pain anymore. It was one of the first times I played the role of the victim. It is a role that can sneak into our behavior every time we are confronted with a decision or have an interaction, most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Knowing how to recognize the victim mindset can help you to keep it in check for yourself, or steer clear if observed in others.
Every time you put yourself or someone else down, blame someone, look to someone else to make you happy, act entitled, give in to hopelessness, seek attention without giving attention back–these things are all evidence of a victim mindset. They are all behaviors that in a way, let you off the hook for having to do anything to change. It’s not my fault I’m unsuccessful, my father never invested in my endeavors. I’m not happy because my wife doesn’t understand me. The government is so corrupt, there’s nothing anyone can do to change it. I’m no good, I shouldn’t even apply.
Why do people play the victim?
Change requires performance, and performance requires effort with the potential for failure. Some retreat into victim status to avoid change and having to perform to a certain standard. When difficult things happen, this is always a que for self-evolution, but playing the victim lets us shift responsibility to someone else rather than looking to see what role we played in designing the situation, or lets us just give up entirely rather than evolve.
The victim and attention
In those times when I was a kid, I remember wanting so badly for someone to witness my pain, I wanted attention. When we play the victim, though there is some relief from the expectations of performance, it is a very uncomfortable and needy role. It is when we are evolving that we feel big and expansive, and since the victim mindset is anti-evolutionary, it makes us feel very small and cuts us off from our inner self. The deeper we sink into victim status, the more we need attention, or “soma” as it is called in Sanskrit. Soma is the flow of consciousness, and everyone craves it to some extent. The higher one’s state of consciousness, the less one craves it from others and can receive it from within.
Interacting with someone who identifies as a victim
You may know someone who is particularly attached to their victim status. You might recognize them by the fact they are continually in that role over a long stretch of time, often for different reasons. Their identity is wrapped up in being a victim, so helping them is very difficult. To heal would be a challenge to their identity. They often seem to be asking for help, but don’t truly want it. What they’re looking for is for you to validate their difficulty and reassure them of their status. In this case, be a kind ear, but don’t waste too much time helping until they show a true desire for help.
Meditation and the victim mindset
By letting your awareness permeate again and again to the aspect of yourself that is one with everything, we begin to identify with that ocean of Self. This helps us to let go of our identity as a victim along with all other outside sources for identity. Also, by purifying the body of stress through meditation, we are less apt to react with stress-coping behaviors and are more capable of responding however we choose. The victim mindset is one that is very separating, it sees people as “other” and therefore as threatening. Meditation blurs the line of “other” until everything is seen as part of Self. Playing the victim becomes less and less possible.
Letting go of the victim identity
We all have the opportunity to choose how we interact with challenges. We can learn and evolve from them, or avert change and play the victim. Any time you stand up for someone else, choose to empathize with a difficult person, accept that you and everyone else deserves the best, act with determination regardless of outside validation, you are playing the hero. Your life is your story and you are the protagonist, you get to pick what role you’d like to play.
My two favorite drama queens.