How to Vanish the Victim in 4 Steps

It’s sad but true — most of us have a victim lurking inside. This inner victim keeps you stuck, lies to you and limits your potential. 
 
Victim thinking shows up in thoughts like:

  • I have/had to _______________.
  • Why does this always happen to me?
  • Why are they doing this to me?
  • It’s not fair.

Repeatedly talking about the laundry list of wrongs others have done to you is another sign of victim thinking.

When victim thinking becomes extreme, you may develop a victim mentality — a mild form of paranoia that causes you to perceive yourself as being at the mercy of events and other people.

Victim mentality is a dangerous mindset that needs to be recognized and transformed if you want to live an empowered life.

To be fair, we’ve all been a victim at some point. Some people have been more victimized more than others. However, it’s completely possible to have the experience of being a victim without taking on a victim identity.

Here are 4 steps for vanishing the inner victim:

Step 1 | Make a choice to be victorious over your problem rather than a victim

One of my mentors, Pia Mellody, often says, “You’re only a victim for a nanosecond.”

Except in rare circumstances like unjust imprisonment or being held against your will, the experience of victimization lasts only a brief time. As soon as the boundary violation ends, so too does the state of being a victim.

If you experience repeated boundary violations in a particular relationship, you must discover how to protect yourself in the future if you want to avoid further victimization. If you don’t protect yourself, you become a  victim of your own choice not to take action.

Being a victim is a state of mind, not a circumstance.

After the actual event of being victimized, you’re no longer a victim in the present moment. You were victimized, but you’re not a victim.

Many people who are victimized, even in horrific ways, rise above their circumstances. They may have survived abuse or discrimination, but they don’t identify as a victim. Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Victor Frankl are well-known examples of the reality that circumstances don’t make someone a victim.

Step 2 | Identify where you have power

When you’re free to choose your response, you cannot be a victim.

If your partner is irresponsible about handling money and you choose to separate your money from his, this is your boundary and an act of protection. You may tell yourself that you’re a victim because you “had to” set the boundary because of your partner’s irresponsibility. This is not true.

Among the many choices you could have made — including doing nothing — you chose to separate your money. If you equate self-care or taking action on your behalf with being a victim, you are disempowering yourself and nurturing a victim mentality. 

Victim thinking is self-centered.

When you’re in a victim stance internally, you feel one-down, helpless and at the mercy of others. From this place you perceive yourself as the target of unfortunate events and other people’s bad behavior. You interpret random events as being about your exceptionally bad luck or that other people are out to get you. You may see yourself as terminally unique and may even become paranoid.

Step 3 | Let go of what you’re powerless over 

People often feel like victims when they’re attempting to control things over which they have no power.

One of the most dangerous aspects of perceiving yourself as a victim is that you begin to believe you have a right to victimize others. Pia Mellody calls this “offending from the victim position.”

Offending from the victim position starts with believing that someone has victimized you, which may or may not be true. Perceiving yourself as a victim, you feel one-down and powerless. To get your power back you tell yourself you have a right to retaliate — in essence playing God — to exact justice and take revenge.  Offending from the victim position is an attempt to gain power over another person, versus responding from a place of authentic personal power. 

You do have a right to be angry and set a boundary. You don’t have a right to offend and retaliate.

The fundamental problem with offending from the victim position is that you allow your behavior to be determined by what others do. You justify and rationalize abusing others. If I say that I have a right to hit my partner because he lied to me, then do I have a right to break his arm if he’s unfaithful, or kill him if he was unfaithful with my best friend?  This is offending from the victim position taken to an extreme. It’s boundary-less and toxic to relationships. 

Step 4 | Take action where you have power

Below are 5 things you can begin doing right now to minimize and eliminate victim thinking:

  1. Turn “I have to” statements into “I choose to” statements. In the example earlier about chosing to separate your money from your partner’s, you will perceive yourself as a victim if you tell yourself you “had” to do it. However, you’re choosing to separate your money to take care of your financial well-being. This simple reframe will make a huge difference in whether you feel empowered or victimized. 
  2. Stop complaining about an issue if you haven’t taken any meaningful action focused on solving the problem. 
  3. Limit your time with people who join you in nurturing your inner victim through gossip, trash-talking about someone who hurt you, or feeling sorry for you.
  4. Take care of resentments as soon as you notice them. Resentment is victim anger. It’s the equivalent of swallowing poison and hoping your enemy will die.
  5. Ask yourself “have my boundaries been violated?” If they haven’t, you probably haven’t been victimized.

If you want to maximize your happiness, minimize resentment, and live an empowered life, vanish the victim!


©️ Victoria Priya, LCSW (2023)

Radiant Threefold Path articles are protected by U.S. copyright laws, and may not be reproduced, distributed, or re-published without written permission of the author.
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