If someone displays these 10 behaviors, they have a victim mentality

by Isabel Cabrera | May 13, 2024, 6:57 pm

Everyone is capable of playing victim once in a while. 

It can be a way to process negative experiences – so it’s not always something to condemn yourself for.

But it’s when it becomes a consistent mindset that plays itself out in a harmful way. Then we got a problem.

Here are 10 behaviors that can mean a person has a victim mentality.

1) They talk negatively about themselves.

It all comes down to how they perceive themselves.

People who don’t like themselves will talk down on themselves and even hide it under self-deprecating jokes.

Anything that alludes to how they believe that they have no power in how their life plays out.

They believe that there is something inherently wrong with them and therefore can’t do things that others can. So why try?

When people have a negative self-image, they may feel shame easily, take mishaps personally, and always have excuses for why they can’t change.

2) They have a negative outlook on their future.

Or the future in general.

Again, it’s about curating a certain perception that keeps them from trying – because then they can’t fail. 

They won’t get better either, but they’re not interested in acknowledging that.

So they may cherry-pick negative events that are happening around the world or in their personal lives to concoct a pessimistic narrative.

Which makes it impossible for them to even want more. People like this rarely have dreams because that requires grappling with the possibility of disappointment.

Whether it’s watching the news all the time, or spending their time judging others for trying to achieve their goals – a victim mentality will have stuck wherever they are.

3) They are constantly complaining.

A victim mentality will keep that person from growing, but they can also be draining to be around.

It’s important to not get caught up in toxic positivity or ignore the bad things happening in the world.

But trying to invalidate the positive aspects of life by bringing up bad ones isn’t the way to do it.

They may also vent about the same things over and over again because their pain requires other people’s empathy to validate itself.

It’s how they can feel better about their lack of growth and find people who are willing to stay stuck with them.

4) They don’t take accountability for themselves.

They do that for themselves by not making positive changes in their lives.

But they can also avoid taking responsibility in their relationships. 

This is someone that always has an excuse for what they did, and usually how you’re at fault because you caused them to act that way.

So if you’re close to someone that has a victim mentality, you likely avoid being honest with them and have to put up a front to interact with them.

Which can cause there to be unrealistic expectations where you have to clean up after them, or always be available to avoid being on their bad side.

5) They don’t want to be helped.

When offered help, people with a victim mentality have a hard time receiving it.

And I’m talking about real help, not a hand-out.

We all need both sometimes, but real help is the kind that makes you realize your self-sabotaging ways. It encourages you to grow.

So this can show up as someone expecting people to support them financially, but have walls up when you try to help them be more independent.

That includes any advice that challenges their belief that they are a victim and therefore should be compensated for what they’ve experienced in life.

They may even reject real displays of compassion because they are used to feeling pity.

6) They weaponize their incompetence or disadvantages.

This can involve using their less than ideal circumstances to manipulate others.

Such as using certain medical conditions to create a case on why you shouldn’t have boundaries with them.

Or using their upbringing as an excuse for why they have certain harmful biases. 

This doesn’t apply to people who need caretakers or aren’t able to support themselves for genuine reasons. Again, it’s about the mindset behind the action.

Because when you use your status as a member of a marginalized group to mistreat people, you are actually inflicting more damage to everyone involved.

It demonstrates an idea that your lack of emotional intelligence or kindness is due to being less privileged – which isn’t true at all.

7) They keep score.

I should mention that it’s important to keep people accountable if they are harming you consistently. 

But keeping score is about control and having power over someone.

A person with a victim mentality will use your past mistakes against you when it’s convenient for them, but they will never try to find a solution with you.

So they may bring up something that you weren’t aware they were holding a grudge on. 

Or sometimes, they can play the martyr and use moments of self-sacrifice to prove their innocence.

Like saying they can’t have harmed you because they donated to a charity 5 years ago.

Without accountability, these people can become more harmful as they find comfort in their manipulation tactics.

And begin projecting their shallow perception where they are a product of their life, and not the other way around. Which can make you doubt yourself too.

8) They compare themselves to others.

This is where the green-eyed monster can show itself.

If you see yourself as a combination of everything bad that has happened to you, everything else you perceive will be through that lens.

For example, other people’s success.

A victim mentality will cause people to think that people are successful or happy because they were handed those opportunities. 

That they don’t actually deserve it.

This constant comparison certainly doesn’t help their insecurities either. 

It can cause them to hide themselves from reality and lack genuine connections beyond gossiping and complaining.

So this is the friend that will always point out your mistakes, silently compete with you, and is never happy for you. 

They will only want to talk about other people’s business when you meet up.

9) They feel intimidated by success.

When a person feels intimidated by success, they can express this in various ways.

As mentioned, they may list negative aspects of success like increased responsibilities, radical acceptance of yourself, and the inevitability of failure.

Negative because they require you to face your fears which is hard, but rewarding because you get to thoroughly enjoy your life.

But a person can also be intimidated by success by having impostor syndrome.

So while they may be talented and seem like they have all the resources to change, they won’t.

Or being celebrated might make them feel uncomfortable and feel like a fraud.

This type of victim mindset can go unnoticed because it doesn’t require you to be a negative individual to perpetrate it.

But it deserves to be mentioned because so many people remain stagnant because they feel guilty of their greatness.

10) They are a ticking time bomb.

They are overwhelmed easily, which to others can come off overbearing.

But they aren’t always trying to be a ticking time bomb. Constantly feeling like a victim to your circumstances can be exhausting.

It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Spend enough time fixating on all things negative, and you’ll have no energy to do anything. Which further validates your reasons for why you can’t change.

People who are overwhelmed easily will act like being stressed is a personality trait. Some may even have dysregulated nervous systems that they avoid treating.

They can lack healthy coping mechanisms due to always externalizing their responsibilities. So the illusion that they lack agency can bleed into their emotional maturity.

Along with their persistent pessimism and unrealistic expectations of others, playing the victim full-time can make you feel like you are completely alone. 

And that the only way to receive help is if you create a situation where you are powerless and in desperate need of a savior.

Like I already said, feeling like a victim is a part of life sometimes. 

But it’s when a person’s identity becomes entangled with being a victim that can cause behavioral issues. 

A lot of young people can face this predicament as they get older and more independent.

I’d even go as far as to say that breaking out of a victim mentality is the key to becoming a well-adjusted adult. 

Because it requires you to realize how powerful you are. And that the care you were entitled to as a child will not benefit you as an adult.

If anything, it will keep you from reaching your potential and experiencing life to the fullest.

So playing victim might earn you an “easy” life where you don’t experience the ups and downs of getting to know yourself. 

But true empowerment comes from knowing a comfortable life is nothing if you don’t like who you’re becoming.

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