: 29 January 2013

Why Feeling Like a Victim Perpetuates Unhappiness

We all get caught in the victim-trap from time to time. Feeling like we’ve been wronged; like we were right and they were, well, I’m sure we can complete the sentence with lots of words. It’s true, being a victim is not an uncommon stance to take in this world.
But you should know that feeling like a victim only makes you feel worse. Many of us don’t realize this. In fact, often we hang-out in victim-land because we unconsciously believe that it will get us what we want (which is care, concern, and love). On some level we think being a victim will make us feel better! We are sorely mistaken.

If you recognize that sometimes you identify as a victim and you want to stop the pattern, then keep reading. In this article I’m going to discuss why feeling like a victim ultimately leads to more unhappiness, and how to turn the pattern around.

The main reason feeling like a victim leads to unhappiness is because it means you identify with being powerless. And very simply, powerlessness = fear and fear = unhappiness. Always. No one likes to feel powerless! It is impossible to identify as powerless and be happy at the same time. They are basically opposite experiences.

Why is feeling like a victim a powerless position? Because the essence of victimhood is that something other than you has the power to make you feel awful. And it’s true, when something other than you is dictating how you feel, you are powerless.

When you feel like a victim what you are forgetting is this: no one else is responsible for your experience in life. Of course you are affected by what other people say and do, but ultimately your sense of well-being is dependent on YOU. We are majorly conditioned to believe otherwise so this can be a hard concept for us to grasp. But it’s true.

If your happiness is dependent on what other people do or don’t do, then frankly, you’re screwed. But if you take responsibility for how you feel, then you are saying that no matter what you can feel good again. And that makes you very powerful.

Contrary to popular belief, feeling better after we’ve been hurt is not about the other person admitting they were wrong and apologizing or changing. Although of course these things are nice, they are not the way out of feeling helpless. Helplessness is overcome by you taking your power back; this is done by accepting personal responsibility.

Anytime you feel like a victim, the way to regain your power is to own your part in the situation. 

This is not always easy; but it is essential if you want to feel better.

What exactly is personal responsibility? It is the statement that you are responsible for your experiences in life.

Personal responsibility says, “Ouch, that hurt. And yes, I’m willing to take responsibility for my part in the experience. I am willing to move beyond it, back to my own sense of well-being.” People who take personal responsibility are far from weak; they are empowered, conscious, and full of integrity.

Not only does personal responsibility give you power in the moment, but it also gives you power for the future. When you can honestly own your part, then you can choose differently next time (choice = empowerment). It is only through the recognition that you could have done better that you are able to grow into a better version of yourself. Without personal responsibility, you don’t get a choice to grow.

Many people have a hard time taking personal responsibility because they think it means something is wrong with them–that if they make mistakes, they are flawed.

But we all make mistakes. Mistakes are what allow us to grow. We cannot grow if we pretend like we don’t play a part in our experiences in life. We have to take responsibility for our faults if we want to move passed them.

This is a very radical position to take in the world! Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.

The next time you find yourself feeling victimized, ask yourself, “What is my part?” Do not bypass this question! If you can honestly answer it when faced with any circumstance that tempts you to be a victim, then you are on the path of seriously-empowered personal growth. And growth will always point you in the direction of more and more happiness. And that, of course, is what we all want.



  1. Shelly Bullard on February 3, 2013 at 4:22 am

    Glad you like it! Welcome.

  2. Sheila on August 11, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Shelly, this is so me about being the victim and getting out and over bad relationships. My problem is now that when I get close to someone in a new relationship, I attend to back out quickly and all feelings lost immediately. I’m concerned of how and will I ever get over the fear of becoming the victim again. I’m scared!

  3. Renee on December 16, 2013 at 4:48 am

    When I am in a relationship, I tend to use “being a victim,” as a strategy to gain attention. Why do I do this? I dramatize my problems and exaggerate the small sagas of life. I guess I do this to try and make the man take pity on me or maybe just take care of me. I think in my past relationships I thought that a man could “save” me. But from what? I have been single for a year and I realized that I saved myself from my only enemy, ME and my poor me outlook. But I’m afraid I might do it again. Why would I want to portray myself as pathetic and how can I stop this habit? Why can’t I seek attention through my good qualities or how do I simply ask for it without sounding needy?

    • Shelly Bullard on December 16, 2013 at 5:01 am

      Hi Renne. I have done the same thing in relationships. Now that you have consciousness about it, you can change the pattern. You’re right, you probably will go back to trying to get attention from the “poor me” stance, but you will have to stop yourself in the process. That is how we change – we make an active effort to do so. As far as why you do it, well, probably because you lose touch with your self-worth. Keeping working on self-love and you will be able to change this pattern. xo

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