Do you continually believe you are a victim of someone else\’s actions? Do you choose to feel oppressed? Is bad luck or lack of fairness the source of your problems?

If so, you may have a victim mentality. If you do, you probably find temporary solace in your self-pity. Friends and family may be kind enough to validate your notions by feeling sorry for you. At the same time, you don\’t have to take the risks of trying to set matters right—you might fail. Nor do you have to take on the responsibilities of improving your behavior. You can just continue with your negative, destructive mindset.

The trouble is, friends and family finally run out of patience validating your self-pity. Your behavior is draining them and after awhile, they may—and should—give up on consoling you. And when you don\’t take the risks required to change your behavior, you will never learn to better yourself—to work on issues that plague you now. So if, for example, you blame getting fired on someone or something other than yourself, you may never learn what went wrong. Then you will never find ways to correct your problems so you can ultimately find a better job. Long-term, your victimhood can cost you your relationships and even fulfilling your dreams.

So how to change your victim mentality?

1) Develop Gratitude. Have you ever thought how much better off you are than so many people in this world? Chances are, you are not fighting to survive genocide, you are not facing starvation, you are not battling daily violence in the streets. Yes, your problems may be very real, but compared to others, you are probably very blessed. Start by recognizing how well off you really are.

2) Learn from Your Experience. Yes, it feels good to wallow in self-pity after a failed love affair, but only for a short time. Then you need to pick yourself up and move on. But not before you learn what went wrong. Maybe it wasn\’t your fault. Fine. But are you sure that there\’s nothing you could do to have a better outcome? Are there things you should change in your behavior as a result of what you\’ve learned? If so, your next love affair could be less painful and more fulfilling.

3) Do Good. Doing good for others can take you out of yourself—the first requirement for shedding your victim mentality. Be kind to someone, listen to someone else\’s woes for a change, and offer help where it\’s needed. This will help you feel more in control of your own feelings, and it will help you feel good as you do good. Soon you will find that feeling good is more appealing than victimhood.

4) Try to Forgive. When you nurse a victim mentality, that means you often blame someone else for your misfortune. That person has control over you when you should be in control of yourself. Whatever that person has done to you—real or imagined—resolve to forgive him. Break the bonds you have with that person by letting go of your anger and resentment toward him. When you do, you will be free of that person, and free of being his victim.

5) Focus on Happiness. Make a concerted effort to be happy. Focus on things that bring you pleasure, that make your life fun and enjoyable. They may be as simple as a bike ride or a beautiful sunset. Make an effort to fill your life with goodness. When you do, the negativity of your victim mentality will seem like a sad place to spend your life. Replace that negativity with positive emotions. Remember, the Dalai Lama said the purpose of our lives is to be happy. Try it!

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: