If you’re like most people, then you probably feel like coming home and venting to a friend or family member when you’ve had a tough day. Most people like to talk about their problems from time to time, to work through them and get sympathy from loved ones. That’s normal! There’s a big difference, however, between the occasional gripe and an ongoing feeling that you have a whole host of chronic problems in your life—none of which are your fault. If you find yourself complaining all the time, you might want to think about the possibility that you have a victim mindset. Here’s what you need to know about the victim mentality—and how to know if you have it.

Victims Place Blame Elsewhere

People with a victim mentality never take responsibility for their situation and their troubles. For example, people with a victim mentality often complain about their job, their boss, and their coworkers, without realizing that they may be at least partly to blame for their own unhappiness in the office. Even if the circumstances at their job are terrible, they don’t take steps to change things, such as speaking up or looking for another job. They just complain and blame their troubles on others. This goes for every situation in their lives: it’s always someone else’s fault.

Victims Act Powerless

When victims place the blame for their troubles on others, they also act powerless when it comes to solving their problems. They’ll come up with all kinds of excuses, and talk about making changes, but typically never do. If the victim is powerless, then they never have to take responsibility for their problems, and they never have to do the work of taking action.

Victims Complain

The victim mindset typically involves the person complaining constantly, always moaning about their problems and wallowing in self-pity. They’re needy and clingy, and they’re always seeking rescue and validation from those they’re close to. Unfortunately, their negative energy and neediness often pushes people away, and they become an emotional burden on their friends and family.

Victims Are Self-Absorbed

In the victim’s mind, everyone is out to get them. Their life is overwhelmingly unfair, and no one will give them a break. In reality, of course, most of us are more focused on what we’re doing than what others are doing most of the time, and aren’t thinking up ways to make life harder for others. People with a victim mentality are typically very self-absorbed, and can often have issues with low self-esteem and jealousy.

Why Does the Victim Mindset Exist, and Why is it Harmful?

You might be wondering: why does the victim mentality even exist? Why would people who aren’t actually victims victimize themselves? Basically, it comes down to attention and responsibility. If nothing is your fault, then you never have to be responsible for failure, embarrassment, or any other negative consequences. It’s “safe” to be the victims. Victims also get to seek validation from others, and revel in the drama and attention that surrounds them.

Victimhood is a problem for a couple of reasons. First, people who have the victim mentality never feel the need to take action or make changes, for the simple reason that they believe nothing is their fault. Never taking responsibility can cause major problems in the workplace and in personal relationships. The victim mindset also tends to push people away, giving the victim even more validation for their outlook on life.

Are You Playing the Victim? Start Turning It Around

The victim mentality is a learned behavior, and you can unlearn the behavior on your own, or with help from a mental health professional. If you think you might be sabotaging your own happiness or putting an emotional burden on those around you with a victim mindset, be comforted by the fact that you can change.

You can start turning your mindset around by first acknowledging your victim mentality. Then, you’ll need to start consciously making changes and catching yourself when you notice victim mentality behavior. Realize that you can’t control other people, but you can control your own behavior, reactions, and in most cases, your circumstances. Think about what you complain about most. Instead of worrying and griping about it, think about what you could do to change those circumstances. Part of changing your mindset is taking action—besides making changes in your own life, you could empower yourself and others by giving back to the community or getting involved in new activities. Once you start focusing on solutions instead of problems, everything starts to look a lot brighter—and you’ll see benefits in all areas of your life, from your career to your relationships. Don’t give up—you can beat a victim mindset!

Author's Bio: 

Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life, including her position as a yoga instructor and raising her two children. When she's not watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.