We are all subject to life's inevitable harsh conditions and challenges.
It could be the weather, culture, gender stereotypes, or genetic predispositions, to mention a few. Hence, we are all faced with a myriad of impediments, yet what differentiates us – and the quality of life we ultimately lead – is our mindset.
We are all driven by a mindset. Our mindset is simply a collection of thoughts and beliefs (acquired over time) that shape our habits and actions. It dictates how we perceive and approach the world around us - how we think, feel, and (re)act in any given situation.
Consequently, it determines the kind of result we attain, and how far we go in life.
But what happens when some of us have an inherently negative mindset vs. those with a typically positive one? These two types are known as the Victim and Victor mindsets, and we are exploring them today.
There are two types of mindset as identified by Carol Dweck (a Stanford Psychologist) in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential”, they are…
We will explore both shortly, but first...
Dweck revealed that these mindsets were implanted in us at a very tender age through:
Dweck and her colleagues found out that labeling a child (whether good or bad) promoted a fixed or victim mindset - this is because it shuts the door for growth and improvement.
For example, children labeled “smart” or “dull” were observed to feel helpless/powerless about their fate. They felt like there was nothing they could do about their condition or end result.
Conversely, process praising – which involves educating the child that his/her result is dependent on their effort (or lack thereof) – gave rise to a sense of control and hope in the child.
It was then concluded that over a long period of time, these slight differences in approach determined if the child would sustain a victim mindset or a victor mindset.
However, it was also observed that negative life experiences such as betrayal, intense emotional pain, trauma, as well as a history of manipulation led to a victim mindset/mentality.
The question now is, what exactly is a victim mindset, and a victor mindset?
Psychology.com describes the Victim Personality as:
"They seem self-absorbed, but in a strangely negative way. The world is out to get them. It’s not paranoia, but it can seem delusional with the way they constantly interpret things as being intentional to harm and punish them. Nothing is ever really their fault, because of all the bad things that happen to them. And they aren’t responsible for the bad things they do, because they’ve been through so much, and they are just getting some of theirs back."
Having a victim mindset or mentality means feeling powerless about the things that happen in your life. A victim mindset is one that is self-reinforcing and sabotaging, causing the individual to blame other people, circumstances or their own inabilities/insufficiency for the unhappiness they are feeling.
They may feel that the world is unjust and unfair to them – as a result, they end up seeking attention, validation, and sympathy from others.
Having a victim mindset creates a negative outlook towards life – an outlook of helplessness and lack of control. They may even feel entitled, but lack self-confidence, and self-efficacy. And it can be hard to overcome.
A person with a victor mindset/mentality believes they are in control of what goes on in and within their life and are fully responsible for the results that emanate.
They do not wait for things to accidentally happen, but prepare themselves to achieve the desired goal.
Because people with the victor mindset believe they can always do something about their present situation, they are hopeful when looking for solutions to their problems. They also commit to their goals until completion despite their fears and concerns.
In other words, they are mostly confident and possess self-efficacy.
Victor mindset is considered superior because those who possess it tend to do better in life – or at least can get out of uncomfortable situations (as they are most likely to seek solutions to their problems).
The victim mindset is problematic because victims sit down and lament as their misery adds up. In other words, a victor mindset leads to a life filled with possibility, while a victim mindset can lead to a limited and negative view on the world.
Thankfully, there is a way to overcome this negative mindset. It involves:
Coming to terms with the fact that you have a victim mindset and discovering the myriad of ways it has limited your life is the first (and most crucial) step in changing it.
The self-sabotaging inner dialogue which makes the possessor feel helpless, or powerless, or thinks some external factor is responsible for their circumstance is an enemy that must be exiled from the mind.
You must realize that the world does not revolve around you, hence the challenges you are experiencing are not peculiar to you. You must change the internal dialog from "things happening to me" to "things happening ".
The liberating thing about this is that you can then go on to seek the solution every other person is already enjoying – you are no longer a victim but a soon-to-be victor.
People with a victim mentality are seldom grateful, since they focus on the things they do not have or can not do, whilst neglecting the things they have and can do.
Hence, they are always complaining and giving excuses. By intentionally counting your blessings and focusing on your small victories, you will give yourself a sense of control, hope, and confidence.
By religiously practicing gratitude for a prolonged period of time, you will cause a shift in your outlook on life; you will be able to identify and hop on more opportunities. And the result of this would be more wins and a better life altogether.
There is a popular saying attributed to Albert Einstein,
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
The amazing thing about this quote is that it even admits that our problems spring from us, but most importantly, that we can solve them if we can only change our pattern of thoughts.
In the end, it is still within your control to create a better life for yourself; so why not do it?
May 25, 2022