What Is a Victim Mentality Really About?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is a victim mentality? Where does it come from? How can it impact our lives?

Joyce Meyer argues that the devil attacks our minds with negative thoughts. One category of negativity is self-pity, or a victim mentality. Not only does this mentality trap us in a dark mindset, it makes us believe that we can’t make choices and changes.

Keep reading to learn more about the pitfalls of self-pity.

Victim Mentality

What is a victim mentality? Meyer explains that Satan tries to trap us in a negative mindset by fueling an addiction to self-pity. While indulging in self-pity may make us feel better when things don’t go our way, it’s destructive because it traps our minds in negative past experiences. 

A victim mentality also robs us of a sense of agency in our lives. When we feel sorry for ourselves, we cast ourselves as the victims of our stories, which means we lack the power to change our circumstances. Meyer explains that we cannot be both pitiful and powerful. If we hope to have a positive mind, we need to stop thinking about what has been done to us and start thinking about what we can do through our faith in God. 

Because self-pity is an inherently selfish emotion, Meyer suggests that the best way to defeat it is to look at a situation from someone else’s perspective. Not only will this help us focus less on our problems (which is what Satan wants us to do), but it can help us to be a positive presence in the lives of others. If we can cast our attention off ourselves and onto someone else even during difficult times, Meyer explains that we’ll no longer feel like victims and have a more positive outlook.

Training Our Mind Away From Self-Pity

We can learn to break the habit of self-pity by practicing thought exercises that build mental strength. Best-selling author and psychotherapist Amy Morin explains that “throwing a pity-party” when things don’t go our way is a self-destructive habit that we can train ourselves to break. 

She argues that negative feelings are natural, but dwelling on them is a choice. The key, she claims, is to accept any negative feelings we may have and then promptly move on without allowing them to rob us of our valuable time. 

Morin lists several ways that “mentally strong people” avoid self-pity’s “downward spiral,” including:

—Recognizing when our mind is at risk of spiraling into self-pity

—Taking negative thoughts as a challenge (for example, if we think we could never run a 10-minute mile, then a 10-minute mile would become our goal)

Practicing gratitude instead of complaining (mirroring Meyer’s earlier recommendation to direct your prayers toward thanks, not complaints)

—Questioning whether our pitiful thoughts are rational (which you can do by following Meyer’s advice to look at your situation from someone else’s perspective)

In addition to the strategies listed above, Morin, like Meyer, suggests that helping other people can be an antidote to self-pity. Helping others can remind us of how fortunate we are and can take our minds off our problems. 
What Is a Victim Mentality Really About?

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Joyce Meyer's "Battlefield of the Mind" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Battlefield of the Mind summary:

  • How the Devil makes it his mission to corrupt our minds with negative thoughts
  • How to recognize the signs that Satan is attacking your mind
  • How to thwart Satan’s attacks and find happiness and fulfillment

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, science, and philosophy. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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