How victim mentality limits your life and business

Find out how your victim mentality is holding you back from creating the business and life you most desire + tips on how to overcome it!

Show notes

Hello everyone! Welcome back! I recently shared a story on Instagram from the great rapper and entrepreneur ZUBY, saying that: “Victim mentality is popular because it provides a permanent alibi for personal failings”. I also shared my take on victim mentality, which resulted in a lot of DMs. I said that “the opposite of victim mentality is self responsibility, and the only way to get – or manifest, what you want in life is to step into 100% self responsibility. So many of you wanted to hear more about this, so I dedicated this whole episode to really diving into this! 

So, this is what I’ll be talking about throughout this episode:

  1. What victim mentality is and what it may stem from
  2. What does it look like in practice and in your life?
  3. Why you keep yourself in perpetual victim mentality
  4. What it looks like to instead take 100% responsibility for yourself so as to create the life and business that you desire.  

What is Victim Mentality

Victim mentality is sometimes referred to as victim syndrome or a victim complex, but it’s not a formal medical term.

The victim mentality rests on three key beliefs:

  • Bad things happen and will keep happening to me 
  • External influences such as people or circumstances are to blame for the bad things that’s happening to me
  • Any attempt to create change will fail, so there’s no point in trying

So, the feeling that this mentality perpetuates is helplessness and apathy. And no dream life or business was ever built on these emotions! I’ll get back to that later on in this episode!

Where does it come from?

Victim mentality, like any other belief systems that we have, stems from childhood; familial or societal conditioning. Past trauma, betrayal, codependency or manipulation are some things that can make a person develop a victim mentality. 

I first want to share that I’m a recovering codependent, so I used to just be a passenger in my own life. I pretty much just left all of my life up to circumstance and other people’s needs and wants. I used to feel that things just happened to me and that I didn’t have a say in the matter at all. I felt completely at the mercy of other people and that I was just a victim to their desires and that I just needed to obey whatever they wanted in a very self destructive way. I was totally controlled by this subconscious belief system, putting myself in a prison of unsolicited obligation to others. It was so ingrained in me that I didn’t even realize I was doing it! I was unknowingly playing out the victim mentality in a big way! For onlookers, it may have been a very obvious pattern, but that’s the thing about subconscious patterns; we don’t know what we don’t know – yet these patterns, to a large extent, run our lives. That’s partly why I’m so passionate about both self discovery and also helping my clients find and change their mindset and decision making processes to something that is in alignment with living life on their terms! Anyway, I digress! 

What does Victim Mentality Look Like In Practice?

By being in the belief that everyone else causes your misery and nothing you do will ever make a difference, you disempower yourself – and downgrade yourself to a passenger in our own life – just like I did.

So as an overview, what living in a state of victim mentality often looks like is one or more of the following: 

  • Avoiding responsibility
  • Not seeking possible solutions
  • Feeling a sense of powerlessness and apathy
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Frustration, anger, and resentment
  • Negative self-talk and self-sabotage

I’ll go into these in a bit more detail so that you might get some more awareness around how it’s showing up in your life specifically:

Avoiding responsibility

Being in this state, we don’t take responsibility or stay accountable for our own actions or more often – inactions. We place blame on other people and situations, make excuses, and deal with most difficult things by saying “It’s not my fault”. 

Not seeking possible solutions

Life happens and while we can’t control what’s external to us, we can always control how we react, what we choose to think about it and what actions we take. We can choose to learn from the situation. However, if you’re stuck in victimization you’re not likely to try to make changes. You may reject offers of help, and you might even spend so much time in this state that you become addicted to feeling sorry for yourself. Being addicted to emotional states is actually a thing – go and look it up! Being a victim and not taking responsibility for yourself or that bad things always happen to you subconsciously becomes a part of your self concept. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t feel and process hard emotions – by all means! Feel your feelings for a while, find the lessons that this pain is offering you, and then, get yourself back on the horse. Talk to a friend, go to therapy, get a coach, or whatever you need, but staying there forever helps no one – and you are the one suffering from it the most. It’s like the saying goes; “being resentful is like drinking poison and thinking that the other person is going to die”. But we are the ones living with our feelings, not anyone else. Life can be hard, people can be assholes, circumstances can feel like shit, but we’re always in control of our response to it and how we choose to direct our life DESPITE what’s going on.

A sense of powerlessness and apathy

When we’re in a state of victim mentality, we often believe that we lack power to change our situation. Life seems to throw situations at us that, from our perspective, we can do nothing to escape from or succeed with. But we have to remember an important distinction here: being ‘unwilling’ and being ‘unable,’ to make changes. Being in a state of victimization we often default to shift blame and take offense while not making ONE effort to change anything for ourselves. But what we don’t change, we actually choose to keep the way it is – whether it’s a conscious or a subconscious decision – the result is the same. 

Lack of self-confidence

If you see yourself as a victim, you may struggle with low self-confidence and self-esteem. This can become a vicious cycle and make feelings of victimization worse. You might think things like, “I don’t know enough to start my own business”. “My family expects me to be a doctor/  or “I’m not talented enough to succeed.” This perspective may keep you from trying to develop your skills or identify new strengths and abilities that could help you achieve your goals. If you do try to work toward what you want and fail, you may see yourself as the victim of circumstances once again. And as ZUBY says, you revert back to that permanent alibi for personal failings. 

Frustration, anger, and resentment

A victim mentality can take a toll on emotional well-being. So it can make us feel frustrated and angry with a world or universe that seems to be against us, feeling hopeless about our circumstances never changing. Some people might even become resentful of those who seem happy and successful.

Negative self-talk and self-sabotage

When we are in victim mentality we also tend to internalize the negative messages from the challenges we face. Thoughts that may come up are “Everything bad always happens to me”, “I can’t do anything about it, so why try?” or even “No one cares about me.”

The thing about beliefs, though, is that they are self fulfilling prophecies in the way that our subconscious mind goes out on a hunt to uphold our perception of reality by seeking out evidence for it. So the more we’re stuck in victim mentality, the more evidence we find to support it being true, the more we believe we’re victims, the more evidence we single out, the more we believe it …and so it goes until we’re absolutely solid in our belief that we are IN FACT a victim and that we can’t do anything about it, that we’ll never succeed, because we’re uniquely fucked. I might actually do a podcast episode on the topic of thinking that we’re uniquely fucked as I have a few perspectives around it that I think will be helpful for you. 

Anyway, negative self-talk often correlates with self-sabotage. When we believe our self-talk, we often tend to live it out, so if that self-talk is negative, we’re more likely to unconsciously sabotage any attempts that we make toward change.

THAT BEING SAID; I’    m in the firm belief that self sabotage is ACTUALLY just a part of ourselves trying to keep us safe. The negative self-talk may come from the desperation of the part of you that is afraid that something bad might happen if you follow your dreams. So, for example: You could tell yourself that “I’m not good enough to be a coach or to be an entrepreneur. I don’t know enough, I don’t have enough experience, who am I to talk to people and create content around this, nobody will care what I have to say anyway. AND I’ll probably look stupid if I try”. These thoughts seem, at a surface level, to be trying to hurt us, or keep us from the success that we SO desire. But consider that the part of you with the voice telling you all of these things, is desperate for you to not stick your head out, because it’s doing whatever it can to keep you safe. Negative self talk is a super effective way to keep yourself from trying new and “scary” things. So, essentially, there’s no such thing as self sabotage, because it’s just you trying to keep you safe. I might create a whole episode on this, because I really think that understanding this will be revolutionary to your self concept, your self compassion AND how to become more successful with your marketing and business. 

So, let’s look at why we hold onto victim mentality. From an objective perspective, it doesn’t seem to make sense… but it does, here’s why: 

Why We Hold onto Victim Mentality

But for all seemingly self destructive patterns we have in life, they give us something. Otherwise we wouldn’t have kept it as a coping mechanism. In relation to victim mentality, as Zuby said, it gives us a permanent alibi for personal failings. It relieves us of responsibility. It keeps us “out of trouble” and we can just blame others or the circumstances for whatever happens to us. It’s an EASY out. We are more committed to being a victim and getting the relief of blaming something external, than consciously creating the life we truly want and taking the responsibility that this requires. And while this might be a subconscious commitment, it’s still a commitment. You might think consciously that, of course I’d rather create the life of my dreams, but chances are that you’ve just been on autopilot – letting your default programming of staying safe run the show. 

The Gifts of Hardship

We often forget to recognize what going through all of that actually gave us. You might have become independent, strong, got a good work ethic, might have developed deep levels of empathy and compassion for others, you might have become very sensitive to people’s emotional states …and the list goes on. So, again – while you might have endured hardships, you also got some diamonds from that period of your life. My grandmother always said, it’s never so bad that it’s not good for anything. I don’t know if that translates well to English – so I hope you get the gist of it!

While I could go into all of the scenarios of reasons that initially develop victim mentality – whether it be childhood trauma, systemic racism, neglect, violence, war or any other terrible situation, I am here to help you learn from it and have it stop limiting your life. So, that’s what I’ll be talking about for the rest of this episode, so get ready to grab your life by its horns and start making some things happen for yourself! Don’t know if you can grab your life by its horns, but you get what I mean! 

How to Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life and Business  

Self Awareness

As clishé as it may sound, this too, starts with self awareness. As I briefly mentioned, a lot of our behavioural patterns are so ingrained in us, that it is subconscious – or outside of our conscious awareness. When we really sit with what being in victim mentality creates in our lives, we’ll become very aware that those things aren’t going to create the dream life we long for. Really give yourself time with this one. Write out the thoughts that you believe about your situation and why you’re a victim. Write down all of the feelings that you have around all of this. Then, as my coach likes to say: GO TO TOWN on exploring what actions you’re taking from this mindset. Also, write down all the inaction. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, try to sugar code or look for solutions at this point. Be raw and brutally honest with yourself. Lean into it. You’ll soon realize that what this mentality creates for you is not what you want. 


This might be triggering to some, but it’s important to mention. What we resist persists, so resisting and trying to fight the situation we’re in will not get us anywhere. Trying to defend and justify why we’re in that situation is not going to help you build your dream business either. Accepting what is, however, does not mean thinking that it’s okay. Yet, when we accept what’s going on, externally to us and internally, it’s like looking at a map. Looking at where we’re at (from a neutral perspective) and where we want to go. 

Overcome Excuses

Victim mentality is just a form of excuse. One that we truly believe to be 100% true and the reason for not getting what we want in life. But consider this; telling yourself excuses are just using your circumstances against yourself. Find out how to use them FOR yourself instead! Get creative! How might it be true that you have what it takes to help someone? How might it be true that someone would be willing to pay someone to get help with whatever it is that you’re offering? How might it already be true that someone would like to work with YOU and pay YOU to get help with this? I know this last question can be hard for a lot of people to answer and I help my clients with this all the time. So if you need help, just send me a DM on Instagram @martinethomassencoaching. Also, ask yourself how you can delegate, automate or eliminate tasks. How can you get some help in your business? What’s stopping you from investing in yourself? You don’t have to do this alone and you don’t need to know all of the answers! Be resourceful and find all the creative ways in which you can get to the next level of your business DESPITE the circumstances that you’re facing. This leads me to the next prompt; we can CHOOSE what belief we want to focus on relative to the circumstance. 

Choosing Other Beliefs

Taking 100% responsibility for ourselves and our results is the only way to create what we want. Period. End of story. Everything you tell yourself is the reason why you won’t be able to reach your goals or build the business of your dreams, is in fact only thoughts that you have about a neutral circumstance. We always give circumstances meanings and there are ALWAYS several sides to a story. You might have thoughts like: “there are so many people out there doing what I want to do, so there’s no room for me”. “I don’t have the time, money or the experience to go after my dreams”. However, if you dig a bit deeper you’ll realize that you also have other, more empowering beliefs about the situation. You can CHOOSE to focus on thoughts like, “my story might resonate with people”, “my unique background or the hardships I’ve endured might be inspiring to others”. “I don’t need 100k followers on Instagram to make an impact, and as long as I make 1 person’s life better, what I do will be worth it!” You might think that you can’t save the world, but you can save one person’s world. Do you see how these thoughts create a pull of inspiration rather than the apathetic state that the thoughts from victim mentality gave you?

How Taking 100% Responsibility Looks Like in Practice

When I coach my clients, I take 100% responsibility for creating 100% results for them. I work on my own mindset every single day, I get coaching every week, I hone my skills every week, I evaluate my performance every week, I think about my clients and how to help them better single every day. I always try to make it easier for them to get the best possible results. HOWEVER, even the best coach in the world cannot help a person who does not take responsibility for their own results. A coach can’t guarantee the results of their clients because they can’t be guaranteed that the client will act on what they learned, that the client did the work required or made the effort that leveling up their business entails. If a client shows up as though they were passively watching the news and then moving along just as before when they’ve received the coaching, there will be no improved result. It’s like signing up with the worlds best weight loss coach and once your coaching session is over you close your laptop, throw yourself on the sofa and eat 3 bags of potato chips, thinking to yourself “I can’t wait to see the kilos falling off me now that I’m working with the worlds best weight loss coach”. And then after a month of that being frustrated that you haven’t lost 1 gram of fat. 

On the contrary, if you, as the client, take 100% responsibility to create 100% results for yourself – alongside having a coach who does the same, the results are mind blowing! Not only do you think, feel and act in alignment with your desired outcomes, you also get a leg up every week by a coach who focuses all of their attention on helping you overcome your mind drama, make the highest level decisions and get on the fastest route to your goals. The synergy effect of that will blow your socks off – so to speak. We all have human brains and life does happen, so it obviously won’t be a straight climb to the stars and beyond. But that’s also where the coach comes in, to gently get you back on track. 

So now that you’ve learned a bit more about what victim mentality is and how it can hold you back from creating the life and business that you most desire, I want to encourage you to look at your own situation. Where do you get stuck in victim mentality? Where are you seeking an alibi for personal failure? What results has that mentality created in your life? And, what are the empowering beliefs you have, that you can focus on instead? 

No one will come and serve you your dreams on a silver platter. But you do have the power to develop the mindset and habits that will get you there. And also, remember that you haven’t failed until you’ve given up.  

I hope that this gives you lots of insights and that you’re able to get one step closer to where you want to go. If not, send me a DM on Instagram @martinethomassencoaching and tell me where you get stuck. 

xx Martine



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