Shifting Out of Victim Mindset

Martiniscica Cres Croatia

Something happened last week that took me straight into victim mode. I was angry and believed I didn’t deserve it. Life was unfair, and I felt sorry for myself. I was focused on all the bad things that had happened and that might happen. Oh my! The stories I made up in my head. Playing out various worse-case scenarios, I managed to get far out ahead of the reality of what was happening. My emotions and body responded as if the future were real, and it wore me out. In my exhaustion, I finally recognized myself as a victim.

victimquote1At first, becoming aware of my victim mindset didn’t change much. It felt good, in a way, rolling around in this place of self pity. The longer I stayed in the drama of it, though, the heavier and more out of control things seemed and the more helpless I felt. Eventually, I saw I was stuck and the only one who was going to get me out of the negative, unfulfilling and draining place was me.


This experience reminded me how easy it is play the victim, versus take responsibility for creating something different that moves us in the direction we want to go. To be an influential change agent in the midst of organizational transformation, it is essential that leaders feel empowered to make a difference.

It starts with recognizing the victim mindset. A victim mindset invites negative energy and can be destructive to relationships, creativity, and having a sense of accomplishment. Victims suck the air of a room. Victims leave others drained and empty.

When you find yourself with a victim frame of mind, one thing you can do is tune in to the words you are using – whether they be in your head to yourself or out loud to other people.

  • Are your words accusatory, apologetic, negative? Or are they positive, confident, motivating?
  • What’s the tone you are setting? Are you pulling yourself or the team down, or lifting up and inspiring confidence?
  • Are you dwelling on the past, or pointing to what’s possible?
  • What’s the impact of your words, tone, and focus on the outcomes you’d like to achieve?


It’s also essential to develop strategies for shifting oneself from victimhood to a place of empowerment. Some of the approaches I find helpful include:

  • Take a deep breath. Ground yourself in the present moment.
  • Accept your feelings. Be compassionate with yourself.
  • Clarify your beliefs. Be clear about what you value.
  • Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Tune in to what you have to be thankful for.
  • Take the focus off yourself. Be curious about others.
  • Take responsibility. Decide what action will move you forward in alignment with what’s important to you.


Taking responsibility requires that we have clarity about our beliefs. Questions like those below help me understand what’s going on:

Checking In 

  • What story am I making up about what’s going on?
  • What do I believe about the situation?
  • What am I expecting will occur?
  • What’s my frame of mind?
  • How am I feeling?

Pinpointing Responsibility

  • Am I expecting someone else to do something to change the situation? Who? Why?
  • Am I waiting for something to happen? What? Why?
  • What choices do I have about how to respond?
  • How can I take responsibility for creating what I want?
  • What one action, however small, might I take now?


What do you do to pull yourself out of victim mindset? I’m curious about approaches you use to help others out of victim mode as well. I would love to learn from YOU!

*I took the opening photo in Mariniscica on the island of Cres in Croatia.


15 thoughts on “Shifting Out of Victim Mindset

  1. My Victim Mentality Escape Valve is my ability to take something bad, learn from it, and reshape my destination based on the new knowledge. It isn’t easy, it isn’t without feelings of resentment or revenge, but feelings aren’t facts. Just this morning I was thinking about an executive who treated me poorly. I didn’t deserve it, she was out of line, and it was a bad experience. But, it shaped my destination from an inside the company focus to an outside the company focus. In the end, she helped guide me onto the exit ramp, which was just what I needed. Do I like her? No. Do I wish it were different? Yes. Will this be better for me? yes. 🙂 Onward!

  2. I use the The Work by Bryron Katie whenever I notice I’m going down this path. It’s like putting antiseptic on a wound … painful but quick cleansing at the same time. 🙂 I’m just reading The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren. Based on her writing, I’m just starting to see anger as a defense mechanism…so I’m adding the questions “What needs to be protected here?” and listening to the what the emotions are saying. That’s not easy I admit…but I use my curiosity to keep looking.

    • Ah, Byron Katie – I often think of her when I most need to love what is! Thanks for the perspective on anger as a defense mechanism and the powerful question to pose when the emotion surfaces. I’m going to try that! Curiosity is a powerful perspective. Thanks, Sunita, for sharing!

  3. Wowsza Vicki! POWERFUL, AWESOME post! Thank you for sharing it. I think we all go into the victim mentality at one time or another. What is refreshing is the ways in which you write that we can extricate ourselves from it ~ great advice. You are not a victim dear friend. You shine! xo

    • Yvonne, glad you found the post refreshing and saw how some of the ideas can help get us out of the victim mindset when it shows up – and, yes, it does show up from time to time, doesn’t it! I hope to be mostly not a victim! 🙂

  4. Hi Vicki, another great post full of autheticity! I loved how your question ‘What story am I making up about what’s going on?’ immediately reframed my own mind about a situation I’m facing… What helps me apart from counting all the blessings is to make a move. I noticed that sometimes just by physically moving elsewhere my mind makes a shift too. I might take a walk, spend a while somewhere I’ve never been before or simply open up to any wise synchronicity. Things start changing, people I meet tell me stuff that’s surprisingly relevant and helpful etc. As an example, you inspired me to sign up for TUT and their first message was exactly what I needed to get up again. It’s amazing how we are all connected, my friend!

    • Jana, syncrhonicity! as I like to say ‘no coincidences!’ I love the suggestion to MOVE! I do that, too, but I didn’t realize it. I’m hoping to more consciously and consistently choose it. Of course, it takes awareness that’s nowhere to be found when my autopilot is running! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Hello Vicki, I experienced the “victim” mindset when it became clear this year that I must accept the role of caregiver for my mom. I have so many thoughts and emotions. I will study the “strategies for shifting oneself from victimhood to a place of empowerment” that you mention in your post. This is powerful stuff. Thanks.

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