Recognising A Victim Mentality And Your Locus Of Control

The problems with a VICTIM MENTALITY!

A victim mentality is one where it is always someone else’s or something else’s faults for the bad or undesired things that happen to you in life. Going beyond this, a victim mindset will grow to expect that things will go wrong, because bad things have happened in the past.

A victim will generally blame other people for their life circumstances and as the reason why things have worked out the way in which they have done. Victims LOVE to b the center of attention and will seldom take responsibility for their actions.

The most effective way to overcome this highly destructive victim mentality is by taking responsibility for every action and circumstance that you could possibly take ownership of in and throughout your life – seeking in every way possible to take responsibility for your life whilst growing to accept that although you may not be able to control your life circumstances, you’ll be able to control your response to the things that happen to you 100% of the time!

When we embrace this attitude towards life, life’s circumstances will no longer control us and we find this sense of freedom in knowing that you have always been free to choose how you respond to things!

Dealing with a VICTIM MENTALITY!

Those that believe they are victims will generally see the control and responsibility for their situations as belonging to other people, i.e. the bad things that happen to them are always someone else’s fault. “This person MADE me feel this way”, and “That person MADE me behave in that way”. Statements like these will stem from the mouth of someone with a destructive mindset, as not only will a victim feel negative about their current situation, but they’ll also feel completely powerless to do anything to change it.

In his book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, the author Victor Frankl survived the Nazi death camps in Auschwitz, Germany by discovering that the ultimate freedom “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, is to chose one’s own way in life.”

Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

In Stephen Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People“, he describes this ability to choose our response as his first habit of effectiveness, “Be Proactive”.

Covey describes two connecting circles, the inner circle for influence and the outer circle for concern then goes on to suggest that proactive people focus on the things they can control (inside their circle of influence) as their levels of influence grow. Whereas victims will primarily focus on the things that they cannot control (things outside their circle of influence but within their circle of concern) and as a result, their circle of influence shrinks.

The Transition towards a HEALTHIER MENTALITY

The victim and his or her mindset will surrender the power over their life over to others, which in turn leads them towards living a life that is determined by circumstance, other people and their external environments. Completely disempowered!

In complete contrast to victims, proactive people’s lives will generally be driven by the values that they employ which are demonstrated through how they choose to respond to the situations and circumstances that they find themselves in.

Victims will often be bound in webs of unforgiveness, bitterness and negativity; as Corrie Ten Boom in one of her books her said, “Forgiveness is setting the prisoner free, only to find out that the prisoner was me.” Releasing others for their failings and accepting responsibility for our own futures is often the only path that we can take towards breaking free from a victim mentality.

Victims will often feel that they have certain privileged rights that the somehow the world owes them in some way for whatever it is that they’ve been ‘made’ to endure. They tend to feel very strongly about “their rights” and they way things should be done for them.

So, is your locus of control internal (where you may have played a part in the outcomes of your life) or are they external (where it’s everyone else fault that your life is the way that it is)? Your perception of where control lies will have huge influence on your point of view and the way in which you interact with your environment and the people that you know. I’m hoping that this lesson will help you to explore the differences between an internal and external lotus of control and in turn, how each will impacts on how you think, feel, act and behave.

Locus Of Control

We might think that control is an easy word to understand, however it can be a hugely challenging word to deal with. There are some people who believe that they are in control of everything, whilst others believe that the outcomes of their life’s are controlled by the world around them in some way with there being little they can do to change this.

One definition of Control could be ‘the power to determine outcomes by directly influencing actions, people and events’. When we begin to consider looking at control in this way, we may or may not be able to see that there is no way to control everything that happens to us in our lives. I wouldn’t suggest here that we are unable of controlling anything, but put in the context of the definition I’ve just shared, we might have to take a step back and carefully consider what it is that we are and aren’t able to control.

The word ‘control’ can become even more interesting when if we were to add the word locus, before it. You see, locus can be defined as a position, a point or a place, or more specifically, a location where something occurs.

So, a person’s locus of control may be internal to them or external to them.

The Internal Vs. External Locus Of Control

People who base their success in life upon their own efforts and believe that they are in complete control of their life outcomes have an internal locus of control. You might be able to recognize someone with an internal locus of control through his or her relentlessly stubborn and highly driven nature (of which I can often be found guilty)

In contrast to this, people who will assign their successes and failures in life to other people, or factors and influences outside of themselves have what we’d call an external locus of control. You’d likely be able to recognize someone with an external locus of control through highly visible insecurity, low confidence and low self-esteem (I lived in this camp for a while but got very bored of it).

Let’s say for example that you’re the kind of person who has an internal locus of control and you get a promotion at work or achieve some other type of success. You’d most likely assign your achievement to the hard work and efforts you put in. In other words, your success and achievements came as a direct result of your efforts and hard work.

If, on the other hand, you had an external locus of control, you might be more inclined to attribute your promotion or achievement to external or environmental factors, such as luck, fate, timing, other people or some type of divine intervention (religious people can be good at this).

Let’s use the same example and say that you were denied a promotion that you’d worked long hours and very hard for. If your locus of control were internal, you’d be likely to somehow find a way to blame yourself and beat yourself up for this perceived failure. If however, your locus of control were external, you’d find very easy to blame peers, the boss for being and idiot, or any other outside source that was completely beyond your control. Here demonstrates the Victim Mentality!

The +’s and -’s of being Internally or Externally ‘Locussed’

If you’re able to identify with how I’ve described an internal locus of control, you’ll be likely to have a tendency to take more responsibility for your actions and often find yourself being quite reflective, whether your actions or end results are good or bad. You’ll also be unlikely to accept the impact of any influence outside of yourself for the outcomes you experience in your life, no matter what the outcomes are. This is a good and solid sign of maturity in character and a display of a pioneering spirit and leadership potential!

On the other hand, if you were more easily able to identify with the external locus of control I’ve discussed, there’s a pretty good chance that you’d be more likely to consider the people you know and your environment as playing the fundamental role in influencing your life’s successes and failures. You may believe in the team aspect of life (i.e. there’s no ‘I’ in Team) more than those who primarily focus on their internal locus of control, and would always be inclined to praise the other people around you for a job well done, even if well done job had nothing to do with them at all.

So, there are drawbacks and bonuses to having either an internal or an external locus of control. An internally focused person will generally ‘beat himself or herself up’ more frequently with a tendency to over analyze things and look for ways to repeatedly blame themselves for things that they may or may not have even had any influence over.

This perspective will almost force someone to be a hard charging and highly driven individual who at times will often assume a take-no-prisoners attitude. Conversely, those that have an external focus may simply be viewed upon as someone who just will not accept responsibility for themselves or their actions. While they are (and can be) highly effective team players, if the achieved end result is not a positive one, they’ll often be the first to complain that something outside their personal control has directly played its part to the shortfall or underachievement.

Through further developing your level of personal awareness and depth of character, you WILL become more competent at recognizing these personality attributes – either way, whilst playing a more prominent role in determining you own life’s outcomes.

Good luck!

Written by Jon Anxin