“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” ― Carl Gustav Jung
Recovery is a new chapter in the story of your life, but it’s up to you to decide what happens next. By breaking free from the victim mentality that plagues so many people who are struggling with addiction, you can finally become the hero of your own story.
Signs of a Victim Mentality
Seeing yourself as a victim of your circumstances is learned behavior. Often, this is a pattern that develops in childhood in response to an unhealthy family dynamic with a lack of empathetic and emotionally available caregivers.
Some common signs of a victim mentality include:
- When faced with a challenging task, you quickly give up instead of trying to solve the problem.
- You ask other people to complete tasks that you can easily handle on your own.
- You are content to let others tell you how to live your life.
- You make excuses for why you can’t reach your goals or blame others for your problems.
- You blow small mistakes out of proportion.
- You lack confidence in your own skills, abilities, and inner strength.
- You’d rather talk about your own problems than help your friends and family.You expect constant sympathy and attention from others—even when you’re lying or exaggerating the truth.
- You believe that other people always treat you unfairly.
A victim mentality is often, but not always, accompanied by codependency and passive-aggressive behavior.
How the Victim Mentality Leads to Addiction
The problem with seeing yourself as a victim is that it robs you of your free will and personal agency. Instead of actively deciding what happens next, you’re sitting around waiting for others to make decisions on your behalf.
Often, someone with a victim mentality will turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with what they perceive as an impossibly difficult situation. They’ll blame their drinking on a stressful day at work, a fight with a spouse, or a rough childhood. They’ll say they “need” to drink or use drugs to feel normal and that other people couldn’t possibly understand what they are going through.
A victim mentality can also lead to the development of a substance use disorder by weakening your social support system. People who are constantly pessimistic and self-defeating are difficult to be around, which can make friends and family start to pull away over time. As a person with a victim mentality becomes more socially isolated, they cling harder to self-destructive behavior patterns.
You’re a Survivor, Not a Victim
To move forward in your recovery, you need to start seeing yourself as a survivor. People with substance use disorders often have histories that have included abuse, neglect, poverty, and other significant hardships. No one is suggesting that the trauma you have suffered can be easily forgotten. However, it is important to keep in mind that the human spirit is amazingly resilient.
No matter what has happened to you in the past, you are in control of your future. Seeking evidence-based addiction treatment from St. Joseph Institute for Addiction’s residential drug and alcohol recovery program can help you develop the skills you need to tap into your natural resilience.
Our program is designed to:
- Encourage self-reflection
- Build self-confidence and self-esteem
- Promote personal accountability
- Process trauma in a way that promotes growth and healing
- Help you avoid giving power to others by letting them control your thoughts and feelings
- Offer healthy ways to cope with stress and negative emotions
- Heal the mind, body, and spirit
Although it was once believed that our brains stop developing when we reached adulthood, medical research now shows that the brain has the capacity to create and reorganize synaptic connections throughout a person’s lifetime. This means that it’s never too late to decide that you’re ready to take control of your life and build a future free from the burden of addiction.