STOP PLAYING THE VICTIM: OVERCOMING ADDICTION AND THE VICTIM MENTALITY
One of the greatest struggles for anyone in recovery to overcome is the victim mentality. If you’re not sure what this is, let me explain. Do you frequently feel like you’re the victim of your own circumstances? Do you frequently find yourself struggling financially, in relationships, physically, or otherwise as a result of your drug or alcohol use and wish that you could just feel better or that you could just have a “good” relationship or make enough money to stop struggling? Do you feel like you’re the victim of all of these negative situations and occurrences, despite the fact that you have no responsibility for how “others” treat you or what others choose to pay you?
If you’re blaming others for the negativity in your life, or you have suffered from an extremely negative outlook, you could be dealing with more than just life’s everyday challenges. It’s possible that you’re suffering from the victim mentality. If you find yourself in consistently impossible circumstances, and you tend to have a negative outlook with plenty of excuses or explanations as to why the problems you’re facing are simply unsolvable, it’s very important that you pause and take some time to look deep inside your own life to determine whether or not you might be struggling with the victim mentality.
People who feel like bad things keep happening in their life and that they are completely out of their control are often struggling with something much deeper than the surface level situations that appear to be causing them so much stress now. It’s quite common to turn to drugs or alcohol as a result of deeply rooted trauma or other serious personal struggles, as we look to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for these negative situations. However, with time, this mentality of “woe is me,” or “Bad things always just happen to me,” can result in what is called a “victim mentality.”
What is Victim Mentality?
Although not technically a “diagnosable” condition, having a victim mentality can create some specific challenges in your life, particularly as it applies to recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol. When you have a victim mentality, or carry the victim complex or victim syndrome, you typically hold strong to the following beliefs:
- Since bad things happened to you in the past they will continue to happen to you well into the future and you have no control over this.
- Your misfortune is the result of others who are to blame. You have no control over the negative things that occur in your life.
- There isn’t any point in trying to change the situation because nothing will work. It is what it is.
If this sounds like you, there’s a very strong likelihood that you’re holding onto a victim mentality and it could be jeopardizing your recovery!
The victim mentality is typically rooted deeply into the mindset of those who have struggled with trauma or pain, very similarly to addiction. This is why it’s so common for those who struggle with addition to also struggle with the victim mentality. It often comes as a result of feeling helpless or hopeless, at the hands of those who harm or otherwise traumatized you to begin with.
But just because victim mentality could be creating some very specific challenges for your recovery, and just because you believe that there’s no hope and that you’re just bound to be stuck dealing with negativity for the rest of your life – does not mean that any of it is true! It also doesn’t mean that there’s not help available to pull you out of the victim mentality so that you can stop playing the victim and start recovering more fully.
The Victim Mentality is Not Permanent
You can change the way that you think and the way that you feel, but it’s not necessarily going to be easy. While it makes sense for you to struggle with negative thoughts, especially following trauma or other serious life events, it’s important for you to understand that you may not have had any control over these events, but you likely do have control over the events you’re facing now and the events you will face well into your future.
Overcoming the victim mentality, as part of your addiction recovery, is all about learning how to recognize that you do have control over many of the situations that you face in life. Much more control than you may think, actually. If you’ve been feeling like a failure, or like various situations in your life have been packed with negativity, it’s time to start thinking about how you can make positive changes to overcome the victim mentality that might be plaguing your recovery.
It’s perfectly acceptable for you to feel bad about trauma or other negative situations that may have occurred in your life, but these are emotions that you must work through to encourage your own healing and respite from the victim mentality. This victim mindset needs to reach an end, so that the new, strong, positive you in recovery can find its way.
This means you’re going to have to stop sabotaging yourself and your own thoughts. It also means you’re going to have to accept that you do not deserve what happened to you, and move on.
Signs & Symptoms of Victim Mentality
If you’re just entering recovery, and you’re noticing that a lot of this sounds like you, there’s a chance that you’re dealing with the victim mentality struggle. The signs and symptoms of victim mentality, although different for each individual, will typically look something like this:
- You tend to blame others for the way your own life is going.
- You feel like the cards are “not in your favor” like everything is stacked against you.
- You struggle with setbacks, for instance if you relapse you take it incredibly hard.
- You tend to go into situations with a negative outlook. You expect failure.
- When help is offered, you might be angry or lash out, mainly because you believe it’s out of your control and there’s no point in changing your outlook.
- Feeling sorry for yourself, because you are the “victim,” makes you feel a little better.
- You spend time around others who play the blame and shame game and avoid those who don’t agree with your negative outlooks.
- You often feel like others don’t support you.
- You feel like others should be more recognizant of the fact that you’ve been victimized.
- You want those who have wronged you to recognize what they have done.
- You are not empathetic to the problems of others, because you have so many problems yourself.
- You find the world to be a very unfair place.
- You feel like failing is a permanent fixture in your life.
If you’re struggling with the victim mentality, you’re probably engaging with others that share similar feelings and thoughts, which certainly doesn’t help your situation much and in fact might make it worse. You’re probably blaming others for the situation that you’re in, and not taking much responsibility for your current state of affairs. All of this is incredibly dangerous to your recovery, or could be preventing you from achieving recovery at all!
How to Stop Being the Victim of Your Own Mentality
Are you derailing your own recovery with a victim mentality? Stop being a victim of your own thoughts, and start learning better coping mechanisms so that you can find freedom from drug and alcohol use, and freedom from the negativity that comes along with a victim mentality. Apps like Pocket Rehab, that include support groups and others that are also coping with trauma, stress, and addiction can help you shift your thought processes and begin to make strides towards healing.
Follow these tips to help you cope with the victim mentality and begin to shift your mindset towards a healthier thought process that is more conducive to recovery:
- Choose the situations that you participate in and leave when you face potentially negative outcomes.
- Speak up for yourself and take a stance for your recovery!
- Read books, self-help quotes, and inspirational messages to help shift your thought processes.
- Forgive yourself, and find forgiveness for others who have harmed you. You don’t have to accept what they did, but forgiving them will lift the burden from your heart.
- Work closely with a therapist that can assist you with processing the trauma.
- Get engaged in a support group that can help you shift negative thoughts.
- Take responsibility for the situations you are in control of and take equal responsibility for your reactions.
- Know that you are in full control over who you spend your time with – choose wisely!
- Make self-care a priority. Work on a gratitude journal, exercise, meditate, and do things that make YOU feel good.
- Set your own personal goals and take steps to work towards them.
- Say “No” to the things that do not align with your values.
It’s not going to be easy to overcome a victim mindset, and it’s certainly not something that will occur overnight. You have to understand that you did not take on this mentality overnight, it took several years of abuse, trauma, addiction and struggling to mold your mindset into this type of interpersonal struggle. Be gentle with yourself as you work slowly to change your negative thinking into positive, healthy patterns of thought that are more conducive to your own healing and recovery.