The term "victim mentality" (or "victim mindset") is often used to paint the picture of a person who has a "poor me" attitude and refuses to move on after life has handed them some tough blows.
It's a term that is all-too-easy to dish out and even take on ourselves.
Google dictionary says that a victim is someone who has "been harmed," which means most of us have probably experienced it before, like:
- when life gets so hard (sometimes really hard) that it becomes difficult to have hope.
- when life gives you complex puzzles that feel nearly impossible to solve.
- when it seems as though the sun refuses to shine, despite our best efforts.
-when apathy and exhaustion set in and we feel like giving up.
It's normal to feel helpless and hopeless when things are incredibly difficult.
It's called being human.
It's normal to feel the intense sadness, frustration, and despair when things are super tough.
It's normal, in fact, to actually feel sorry (heartbroken) for yourself when you're going through a rough patch. It's called self-compassion.
It can sometimes take an enormous amount of courage, effort, and help from compassionate and loving people to help us through these tough times that can take a sizable amount of time to work through.
Carelessly slapping a term like "victim mentality" on a person who is going through sh*t can not only be insensitive, but sometimes even reckless.
The term can even be used as a way to silence or gaslight actual victims of mistreatment or abuse.
You can see it happen on a personal level, but also in politics, healthcare, business, religion, and other organizations.
Labeling someone as having a "victim mentality" can be an easy way for people who are dishing out the term to deflect responsibility and ignore the need to make necessary changes themselves. It can be an easy way for them to keep actual victims from speaking out against behaviors and systems that are causing harm to others.
If you are being harmed or mistreated by a system or person, you have a right to speak out.
You have a right to call out bad behavior.
You have a right to make changes and hold people accountable.
You have a right to tell the truth of your experience.
Unhealthy organizations and situations continue to thrive when people who have been harmed do not speak up.
Yes, we need to take responsibility for our own lives and work through our challenges in mindful, healthy ways.
Yes, we need to do the work to heal and recover.
And yes, it's helpful to examine our mindsets, automatic negative thoughts and unhelpful stories we tell ourselves, but that doesn't mean we have to stay silent when we are being mistreated or when life is just difficult.
We get to be honest about what we are going through.
I think we can do better as a society about throwing around that term so flippantly.
Let's listen to the people who are in pain.
Let's hear their stories.
Let's validate their lived experiences (even if they are vastly different from ours.) Heaven forbid we actually validate people.
Let's make the changes we need to create a world that is honestly more beautiful and loving.
Let's genuinely try to learn.
Because love listens.
Lots of love,
(I just want to say that I recognize the fact that not everyone feels the need to speak up and speak out. I get it. We all have to work through life in the ways that work best for us personally. Also, if you are a victim in any way right now, please seek the help you need.)