In Are You Accidentally Raising a Victim, I shared the negative effects a victim mindset can have on your children and the best way to stop it from developing. Unfortunately, your kids may have already started developing a victim mindset – even if they have never experienced a particularly traumatic event. Our society loves convincing all of us we are victims. It’s a great way for others to gain power and money, by promising to “fix” our victim status.
So what are the signs your kids may already think of themselves as victims? Here are some of the most obvious ones.
- Blame others for their problems or negative consequences in their lives. To be a victim means everything is done to you. You have no personal responsibility for your problems or the negative consequences of your actions. It’s always the fault of someone else.
- Focus on the negative and have plenty of self-pity. If something bad happens, it’s natural to feel a little sorry for ourselves – for a time. If your kids are constantly throwing a “pity party”, then it may be a warning sign they are developing a victim mindset. Victims love drama and want lots of sympathy and attention. They may even lie or exaggerate to make their plight sound more pitiful.
- Feel like others have a better, easier life. Granted, this can also be a symptom of envy. Victims though, tend to think they are the only ones suffering. This can be individualized or a group mentality. (“I’m a victim, because everyone hates *insert group*.) Their victim status is preventing them from having that “better” life.
- Focus on problems, not solutions and lack creative problem solving skills. This is what my parents use to call “wallowing”. Victims enjoy focusing on what’s wrong instead of trying to find ways to get around what is currently blocking their path. Sometimes, it takes looking past the obvious options and finding a third, more creative one to solve the problem.
- Make “mountains out of mole hills”. Do tiny problems suddenly sound as if they are as big as Mt. Everest? It may just be childish perspective and perfectly normal. If it happens consistently though, you may have a child beginning to see himself/herself as a victim.
- Refuse to acknowledge and accept God’s power and help. For victims, God has abandoned them. He can’t or won’t improve the situation or make them strong enough to endure it.
- Assign worst possible motives. To victims, every slight is not a misunderstanding, but a targeted hit on them. They refuse to consider other possible motives (like the “oppressor” was just having a bad day). They cannot empathize with the other person or even consider the other person may be acting from a painful place, too. They assume everything is personal and they or their group or the only ones suffering – at the hands of everyone else.
- Life is characterized by passive inaction. To the victim, everything is out of their control. They stay in a constant passive state – things are done to them, they can do nothing to stop or change things. They remain frozen, focusing on the hurt and pain. They wait for change instead of trying to create change. They tend to pout or withdraw and make lots of excuses for why things can’t change. They feel powerless to make any changes – including setting healthy boundaries to prevent more pain.
- Live in a constant state of fear. If everyone is making you a victim, it’s natural to assume you live in constant fear of what the next bad thing will be. To the extreme, it can become paranoia – everyone is a potential enemy who wants to harm them.
- Strong desire to take revenge. Since victims view themselves as having no power, they begin fantasizing about having extreme power and destroying their “enemies”. When this desire becomes strong enough, it can overcome their naturally passive stance and result in “over-the-top” angry reactions – even violence. They may also resort to passive-aggressive behaviors which allow them to stay passive, but inflict revenge at the same time.
Separately, many of these can be signs of other issues. If your kids have several of these (as do you and/or your spouse), you may be raising kids to have a victim mentality or the outside world has convinced them of their victimization. Your children will remain stuck until you can free them from their victim mindset. Tomorrow, I will share some ways to help your children be survivors and thrivers instead of victims.
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