Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Victim mentality

Today I visited a friend who has gone 21 years without a drink.  He still has a lot of the "isms" in spite of all those years.  Having not had a job in three years, he got a trick on Halloween in the form of a court summons for failure to make payments on his place.  It's interesting how he blames everyone else but himself for the situation.  Getting a job would be a great start to a course of action that would lift him up.  I keep my mouth shut and wonder at the power of alcoholism that manages to have a hold on someone even after so many years without a drink.

Being a victim of circumstances in life and exuding negative energy makes a person difficult to be around.  I see how the self-centered alcoholic thinking narrows the universe down to just what is in their sphere.  I used to wonder how alcoholics could only be concerned about themselves.  Now I see that being a victim, whether alcoholic or not,  tends to make a person think mostly about what their problems are.  People who are victims seldom seem interested in what others are doing because all the focus is on their own situation.

What if a person decided to stop being a victim and focus outside of themselves, broadening the world to include others and inquire after their happiness?  I think that is where a real difference can be made towards having a life that is full and rewarding versus one that is confined and negative.  But it takes a real change in attitude and behavior.

I don't know if my friend has victim mentality.  I know that I did for a long time.  I blamed the alcoholic for most of my unhappiness, until I began to wonder who had erected the prison that I was living in.  No one was forcing me to stick around for emotional abuse.  I did that willingly.  When I came face to face with my own victim mentality,  I began to see that the walls of isolation and self-pity were erected by me.

Moving away from being a victim and accepting my part was key to having healthy relationships with others.  I have no one to blame but myself if I stick around for abuse.  I am glad to have stopped wondering who is doing what to me and why.  I can look at what I am doing which has made a huge difference in my life.


  1. it could also be that the person is suffering a form of mental illness.God know I have that problem.and there maybe undelying health issues as well.

  2. it does make a world of difference to focus outside yourself...

  3. Realizing I have choices is a step toward a new way of looking at my life. My victim mentality still has a hold of me sometimes but I am trying one day at a time
    to be mindful in my life.

  4. yes, life can be challenging, but the mentality you so well describe does make it very difficult.

    Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >


  5. Absolutely awesome. Honestly, the thing that has scared me away from AA is all wallowing and me-me-me I heard in the meetings I attended. I know I may have all the genetic markings to have become an alcoholic, and perhaps even some of the life stresses to attribute...but no one forced me to pick up the first, or the 1,000th drink...that was a choice.

    Great insight,thanks Syd!

  6. Suggest to your friend he volunteer a few hours a week. Say something, if you haven't already. I have found with addicts/alcoholics, they often don't think of what we would consider "obvious" actions.

    Sometimes a valid suggestion really does ring a bell with them. Or not.

  7. When people have been traumatised and abused, it is hard to get back the confidence and optimism needed for breaking out of fears of continued victimisation. The healing process takes a long time.

    But yes, it is healthier to believe in oneself as an empowered moral agent.

  8. Good points. Focusing outside of me begins to open me up to a world of possibilities. Always having choices (Love the way Louanne puts it in the movie Dangerous Minds) always places me in that world of possibilities. thank God! :)

  9. I have had a relationship with a victim and was considered the "bully" in the demise of the relationship because I treated her as an adult and tried to discuss our difficulties. I thought long and hard about it and seriously dissected my actions and words and I discovered that playing the victim or being a victim is a form of bullying in itself. It's an immaturity allowing the "victim" to not take responsibility.

  10. 6 of my AA friends brought a meeting to my house yesterday since it will still be a few weeks before I am able to get out ... and the meeting topic was on not staying in the victim mode. I've printed out your words and will give them copies ... you are spot on as always and I love getting the al-anon view, too.

  11. Being the victim finally got old for me when I realized I had worked through the old anger and fear. I am in a healthier place and don't need to hang on to the resentment. It frees me up to work on my own stuff and move on in my own recovery.

  12. II well-know a prison, too... Thank you for inspiring the long story which I've written and saved.

    The short story is that the prison was a haven once upon a time in alcohol land. But it grew darker and more constricting as time passed. And passed. And passed. Such a crisis came about one day that its walls couldn't save me. They tried to - that is, I tried to effect their protection - but the constriction grew beyond tolerance and they imploded. Post-implosion, what I came face to face with in my case was not a sense of victimization; but of my isolation, and my relinquished self, and a renewed and excruciating sense of vulnerability. The End. [Enter AlAnon.]

    I've never felt self-pity or a sense of victimization. Except for two memorable crises I've never not had resources to discern and pull myself up. Concern for others in this hell has always been a more powerful draw for me. And it still is, although not at my expense anymore.

    To piggyback Lou's important point, above. What's obvious can be elusive to a broken mind or heart. As a non-addict, I've been broken, too, and not known what to think or feel or do. And I stayed lost until I got help instead of helpful antagonism or neglect or opinion. There's such relief and potential for me in straightforward and simple help when it's for me and not about the one giving it. On the flip side, I've seen this relief in addicts, too - but when my straightforward and simple help doesn't help or if my help becomes laced with me, it's time to let it go.

  13. It is such a relief to not be a "victim" anymore and release the emotional chains that I placed myself in for so many years. Accepting my part and keeping my side of the street clean is a daily struggle, but worth every step.

  14. Great post. Oh, the freedom that not having a victim mentality gives me. Sometimes it takes awhile to get there - repeated attempts to control another's behavior, and giving in to the fear of what others will think if I take action to "quit sticking around for mistreatment" - I can see now that sticking around is usually a combination. I do hope the other person will change, and something in me has to "make sure" that I've done all I can. Sometimes, sticking around and changing my behavior "works" - things smooth out. Sometimes, it doesn't, and by then I've gotten to the point where I can see my anger at how I'm being treated for what it is, empathize with the person who is acting out of their own pain, and go ahead and make the necessary moves to detach with love.

    I also read your post on how precious having someone you love in your life is. I experience that with my daughter and my husband. My daughter is now 21, and we went through a rough patch from when she was 19-20. With Al-Anon, I was able to keep my "eye on the prize" - keeping her in my life, being here for when she decided to quit some of the destructive behavior. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, though. I cried every night for two months, and many nights after that (just not in a row). With Al-Anon, however, I was able to remain kind and calm with her, set boundaries, but let her know I am here and I love her.
    Today our relationship is so much easier and for that, I am so thankful. And my husband supported me through all of it - and even though he is her stepfather, supported her and let her know that he, too, is here for her.
    Life IS good with people we love who love us. Thank goodness for Al-Anon which provides a map for navigating the really rough times. I have a feeling that without Al-Anon, there wouldn't be an "other side of it" for me to make it to and feel so relieved and thankful.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.