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Transforming Our Victim Mentality in Recovery

When we are in recovery, we realize that there are many ways in which we’ve been self-identifying that have been holding us back and working against us. We’ve been subconsciously self-destructive, and one of the ways this is most apparent is in how we think about ourselves. We don’t believe in ourselves. We lose faith in ourselves. We don’t see ourselves as capable of recovery. We don’t recognize our strength or our inherent worth. One of the most toxic ways in which we self-identify is by developing a victim mentality.

A victim mentality is when we feel constantly victimized by our circumstances, by the people in our lives, and in our case, by our addictions and mental health issues. We see ourselves as being overpowered by our illnesses, so much so that we no longer hold any power in our lives. We see ourselves as being subject to these looming, destructive forces without having any recourse, any way to defend or protect ourselves. We feel powerless to change anything in our lives, or to recover or be happy. We have recurring thoughts like, “Why me? Why is this happening to me? What did I do wrong? Why can’t I catch a break?”

We assume we’re inadequate because of our struggles with addiction. We feel down on ourselves, low and insecure. We’re constantly putting ourselves down, thinking the worst of ourselves, and speaking ill of ourselves to other people. We feel so bad for ourselves that we can become self-pitying. We become cynical, negative, judgmental and pessimistic. We hold onto increasingly negative outlooks on the world and the people in it. We focus on everything going wrong in our lives and are quick to share our stories of misfortune. We assume people are out to get us. We think the world is against us. We don’t trust people’s intentions. We become suspicious of other people and assume they’re intentionally trying to hurt us. We attack them and accuse them of being dishonest or hurtful, even when they had no such intentions. As a result, we often stop confiding in people and connecting with them. We isolate ourselves, thinking we’re protecting ourselves from people. We think we’re shielding ourselves from more harm, more victimization. We believe we’re being unfairly targeted and specifically, personally mistreated, and we’re always on the look-out for more hurt. We become hyper-vigilant for more ways in which we’re being targeted, to the point of paranoia.

When we have a victim mentality, we’re often overly sensitive to the things people say and do. We are defensive and take things personally. We’re easily upset. We think their words and actions are a direct attack on us and our character, even when they might have nothing to do with us. This sensitivity and defensiveness, along with personalizing things when we ought not to, can all come from a lack of groundedness and centeredness within ourselves. We aren’t aligned with our inner selves. Alignment allows us to be grounded in our own truth and not so easily swayed by the judgments, opinions and actions of others. When we constantly feel as though we’re being victimized, it is often because of the deep insecurities we feel that are causing us to feel so misaligned. We don’t feel connected to ourselves. We don’t know how to make sense of our thoughts and emotions. We don’t know how to trust our instincts. We can feel like we’re all over the place, scattered, disconnected and separated from our true selves. We’ve become so disconnected from our inner truth because we’ve been overly focused on the ways in which we perceive we’re being victimized.

Our victim mentality becomes a coping mechanism for us to deal with the difficulties in our lives. It acts like a protective defense mechanism to shield us from further victimization. It also can shield us from having to take responsibility for ourselves and to hold ourselves accountable for ourselves, because we’re consistently blaming other people for our challenging feelings and for the difficult things in our lives. When we’re unhappy, we look for someone else to blame rather than looking within at all the ways in which we’re causing our own unhappiness. When we’re angry with ourselves, we deflect that anger and transfer it onto other people who aren’t to blame. This misplaced anger causes us even more difficulty, which we often will then try to use to assign blame elsewhere, in never-ending, recurring, toxic cycles of shirking responsibility and transferring our pain onto other people.

Transforming our victim mentality means looking at our own internal beliefs, our thought patterns, our behaviors and our life cycles. We have to examine ourselves objectively and honestly. We have to stop looking at other people as the cause of our pain and stop blaming things and people that are not actually to blame. This process of introspection and self-reflection requires clarity and self-awareness, things we didn’t usually possess when we were impaired by our addictions. Now that we’re sober, we’re thinking more clearly. We’re more in tune with our emotions and more in touch with our inner selves. We’re more connected to ourselves. We’re better able to reflect on our lives and the ways in which we’ve been causing our own pain.

This work requires courage. Throughout our struggles with addiction, we learned to depend on toxic substances and unhealthy behaviors rather than depending on ourselves. In our sobriety, we now have to be emotionally independent, no longer looking outside of ourselves to make ourselves feel better or to take away the difficult thoughts and feelings we’re experiencing. We realize we can no longer blame everyone else and not ourselves. We have to look within. We have to take responsibility for our lives, for the things that happen to us, and for how we feel. We have to start holding ourselves accountable, to ourselves and to our recovery. We realize that we’ve been manifesting our life circumstances through our own emotions and limiting beliefs. Transforming our victim mentality means stepping into our power, and reclaiming our lives from the toxic patterns we’ve perpetuating. It isn’t easy work to do, but it’s well worth it. It enables us to finally be truly happy.

The Guest House Ocala provides unparalleled, premier-quality treatment to those who suffer from self-defeating behaviors brought on by trauma and its underlying issues. We are uniquely equipped to help our guests heal from trauma-induced substance abuse, process addiction, anxiety or depression in a safe, comfortable and confidential setting. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.