How to Overcome a Victim Mentality

Boundaries with KidsA woman complained to me (Dr. Cloud) about a coworker who would always interrupt her while she was trying to get her job done. She acted as if her tendency to be behind in her work was her coworker’s fault.

“Why do you talk to her?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” she replied.

“When she comes in and interrupts, why do you get into a conversation with her?”

“Well, I have to. She is standing there talking.”

“Why don’t you just tell her that you have work to do, or close your door and put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign?”

The woman looked at me with a blank stare. To have choices and to have control of her own behavior was a concept that hadn’t occurred to her. She felt that if something happened “to her,” then that was the way it had to be. There was nothing she could do to change it.

When I suggested that she had many choices, she quizzed me about them. I gave her five or six suggestions, from talking to the woman about the problem, to talking to a supervisor, to asking to be moved to another area. This was a totally new way of thinking for her; she had never learned that she was free to make choices in relationships and in life.

Have you ever been in a relationship with a “victim”? Victims feel as if they have no choices in life. Life is something that happens to them, and whatever comes their way is their lot.

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Click to Tweet: Children raised with good boundaries learn that they are responsible for their lives and free to live them as they choose, as long as they take responsibility for their choices.

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Joe was such a victim. His company was imposing some new policies that he found difficult to handle, and he was very depressed about the changes.

“What are you going to do about it?” I asked him.

“What do you mean, do about it?” Joe asked.

“I mean what are you going to do about your being stuck in something you don’t like?”

He just looked at me. It took a long time before he realized that he could choose to get his resume out to some other firms and not be a victim to the fifty-hour workweek he hated.

Adults and children raised with good boundaries learn that they are not only responsible for their lives, but also free to live their lives any way they choose, as long as they take responsibility for their choices. For the responsible adult, the sky is the limit.

We live in a society of people-pleasers and victims. People today act as if they have no choices in life and that everything should be done for them. If it’s not, they can’t do it themselves or make changes. This presents a big opportunity for the future: If you learn to take control of your own life, you will be so far ahead of everyone else that success in life is all but guaranteed!

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From Boundaries with Kids by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Learn more about this amazingly helpful resource.

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Comments

  1. Linda says

    Great article. Thanks for sharing that. I really needed to hear that, especially the part about “Adults and children raised with good boundaries learn that they are not only responsible for their lives, but also free to live their lives any way they choose, as long as they take responsibility for their choices. For the responsible adult, the sky is the limit.” I really needed that. Time to let go of my magical thinking that Jesus will take care of everything in my life and just magically “fix” me.

  2. DJ says

    Yes it’s about brainstorming different ways to deal with a situation (other than what is immediately obvious) and trying them out to see which is the best way that works for you.

  3. Ann says

    After experiencing plenty of unethical situations where I worked, I stood up to two owners of a business who expected me to do what I was told. I am a so called Senior Citizen and after applying to over 50 different jobs, I can not find another job – even part time. I can not collect Social Security for a few years yet and it does not look good for me.

  4. Logan says

    What’s the difference between this and entitlement? Sometimes you feel like you have to put up with certain things – out of love or preservance.

  5. Beth says

    What’s the difference between this and entitlement? Sometimes you feel like you gotta put up with certain things out of love or perseverance. I used to be on the opposite end and refuse to put up with anything and I’m now on the end where I tolerate too much. So you’re either intolerant and insensitive or being walked over. What’s the balance?

  6. Anon says

    although you can be back to Square One with others who are unwilling to accept or respect or acknowledge your boundaries….

  7. Christine John says

    I really just finally understood what one part of taking responsibility for myself means. My mom has been a victim all of her life and this helped me understand her more. Such a blessing.

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