Guidelines for Dealing With Someone With a Victim Mindset

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 in Mindset by Pat Mesiti | 41 Comments

In my last blog I wrote about the victim mentality. The victim mindset is an unhealthy way of functioning. It’s a pattern of thinking that damages people. People with a victim mindset tell themselves that the world is against them, nothing is their fault and they are powerless to change their lives. Today I want to look at how you deal with ‘victims’, either at home or at work. However please note that when I last wrote about ‘victims’ I acknowledged that many of these people have suffered real harm – still it is essential that everyone moves from a victim to a survivor outlook and does the work necessary to get on with their lives and again be productive post-trauma. People who recover from difficult childhoods, brutality and other abusive relationships are true heroes and survivors! People who refuse to leave the past behind become life-long victims. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but it is the reality of the situation because regardless of what you have suffered, at some point you must again take on the responsibility of your own wellbeing and happiness.

In this blog I will look at dealing with victims in two very different ways. You basically have two choices: you can either rein the victim in by setting firm boundaries or you can help support the individual overcome their victim mentality. There is no guarantee you’ll succeed. The path you choose is very much dependent on your relationship with the victim. I would only advise encouraging and supporting the person to change their mentality if you have a very close relationship – if the person is a spouse or close friend or family member. If you are dealing with a neighbour or work colleague it is probably more appropriate that you just accept they have a victim mindset and establish some boundaries.

Establishing boundaries for victims

Psychiatrist Judith Orloff wrote a book on how to deal with draining victims called The Victim Mentality. Dr Orloff wrote:

‘The victim grates on you with a poor-me attitude, and is allergic to taking responsibility for their actions. People are always against them, the reason for their unhappiness. They portray themselves as unfortunates who demand rescuing, and they will turn you into their therapist. As a friend, you want to help, but you become overwhelmed by their endless tales of woe.’

Dr Orloff said it is essential to set limits otherwise the ‘victim’ will suck you dry emotionally. Do not indulge the victim’s hunger for self-pity by listening to endless gripes. You might feel like shouting ‘I’ve had enough!’ but you will need to be a little more diplomatic. Dr Orloff suggests setting a time limit with a friend or relative, say something like, ‘Our relationship is important to me, but it’s not helpful to keep feeling sorry for yourself. I can only listen for five minutes unless you’re ready to discuss solutions.’ Expect the victim to be angry and even accuse you of failing him or her as a friend, but stand firm and reply, ‘I’m a great friend and I love you, but this is all I can offer.’

Dealing with a victim at work

With a co-worker, you need to be even more diplomatic. Dr Orloff suggests you respond with something like, ‘I’m really sorry that’s happened to you.’ Next, listen for a little while, then respond sympathetically with something like ‘I really hope the situation turns around for you however I must return to my work as I want to get this task finished today.’ Indicate with body language that you are keen to return to your work – breaking eye contact, and looking at your computer screen. You may come to feel that the less you engage with the victim, the better.

This advice may sound quite ruthless, but do try to be kind to the person with the victim mentality while still establishing some borders. Be empathetic rather than sympathetic. Put yourself in their shoes and appreciate they have probably suffered real harm but are not yet able to find themselves out of a maze – yet you do not also want to be trapped in the maze. Look at the person with love, do not be angry or treat them like an enemy.

Helping someone overcome the ‘victim’ mindset

To help someone escape a ‘victim’ mindset you first need to appreciate that the person is neither mad nor irrational. They have not even chosen to be a victim. They have suffered harm in their life and now they’ve just fallen into this way of thinking because it garnets support and attention from others. It reinforces their view that they are a good person and if things had only been different they would have probably been successful. It’s a way of saving face. Victims do not even consciously realise that by thinking of themselves as victims they have given away power to change the situation. Victimhood is a learned helplessness.

  1. Do not develop an anti-victim mindset

    To help a victim you cannot approach them from a position of superiority. Also examine whether they are truly a victim or there is something about their situation that needs changing. For example I know of a boss who thought his employee had a ‘victim mindset’ but in fact the woman had legitimate concerns. Her employer had not equipped her with the resources to do her job! She was wrongly labelled a victim.

  2. Do not try to logically argue with a victim.

    Remember you are dealing with someone who has an unhealthy mindset, not someone who is lacking in logic. First you need to validate the position the victim has taken. You are not agreeing with them, but just demonstrating that you have heard them. If they feel they have not been heard they will just restate their views. To validate the victim’s viewpoint you might say something like, ‘I understand that you are saying that it is very difficult for a woman to re-enter the workforce after taking time out to raise children and you are saying that no one will give you a job.’ You are simply telling the victim you have heard them, not that you agree with them. However to validate you must also reflect in your voice some of the despair, frustration and anger the victim feels.

  3. Try to figure out if the person is willing to seek a solution

    Ask the individual if he or she sees any way of the situation. There is a range of questions you can ask: Who are you committed to being known as in your life regardless of the situation? Even in the worst of circumstances, how do you want to be perceived? What have you given up on? If the circumstances were different, what would you really like to see happen? Are you willing to stand for making that happen even if it seems unfair and uneven at times? If you could have it your way, what are you really committed to achieving? Note that the key to this line of questioning is first recognising that the situation is terrible. You are not disagreeing with the victim’s core belief that they have been hard done by, your only question is, given things are tough are you prepared to get out of it?
    If the victim avoids giving any commitment to solving his or her problems and only again describes their disasters you could outright say, ‘I want to support you, but it seems like you are set on and maybe even invested in there being no solution — is that correct?’ or ‘Seems like you are stuck in a hole — do you want to come out of it or prefer to stay in it?’
    If the victim is showing real resistance to finding a solution you may want to ask them, ‘If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do then?’ Encourage them to give this a go. After all, what have they got to lose?

  4. Persevere with the victim

    When the victim finally shows some commitment to finding a solution, ask what action they will now take. Remember that it takes a long time to break a bad thought pattern and victims when faced with challenges are prone to quickly throw in the towel. The motivation for taking new actions may be great at first, but if the person does not see instant results, they may sink back into the victim mindset. You may have to repeat Step 3 when the individual feels defeated and again ask what they want to achieve. You could also try to shift their mindset and encourage them to think like someone who is truly resilient and courageous, for example, how would Turia Pitt act in this situation? How would Rosie Battie behave?

  5. Offer ongoing support to the victim

    The person will have a better chance of moving from victim to survivor if you offer them ongoing support. Keep the new commitment alive by continual conversation. Phone them, drop in, write emails, send encouraging texts like, ‘I remember what you said yesterday about giving it a go, and I was really impressed. Just keep going, you’ll get there!’

There are no guarantees that the individual concerned will break-out of the victim mindset. It is difficult to shift a mindset – you probably already know that. This is why it is often better to establish some limits when dealing with victims, however if you commit to helping someone breakout of this mindset then I hope you both succeed!


Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.


  1. Sarah says:

    I believe my son has a victim mentality and he had a lot of childhood trauma. He lefft to live with his dad when he was 10 yrs. although we had contact his dad is a very negative man and he criticised our son. He then kicked him out when he was 16yrs. I am still picking up the pieces and he is now 31. He doesn’t believe he has any power to change things and is Avery angry man. I have daily contact with him and try to support and encourage him, it’s very draining, my next fear is that he will become homeless and that will just compound his attitude about life, he told me he hates people.
    How can I support him productively and keep sane myself.

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hi Sarah, you can’t really help a victim if they want to stay a victim
      Generally the person caring cares more than the person with the problem
      Does he acknowledge his victim thinking?
      Does he seek help of his own volition? If not, he must have an “I shall not kid myself anymore” day.
      The blaming must stop and you must stop enabling him by blaming his dad.
      Hope this helps!

  2. CHOON TEO says:

    Hi Pat.
    Thank you for this post. I believe my wife has been suffering from a severe case of victim mindset for the last 16 years, and the symptoms is deteriorating in recent years. We currently lives in China and phycological disorder is not a well developed science here. Can you please recommend some additional resources that I can explore to help my wife? Your response is greatly appreciated.


    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hi Choon,
      Thank you for sharing your challenged. I wrote a book called “How to Have a Millionaire Mindset” which I believe will help you.

  3. Charles says:

    Hi Pat,
    Great article. Unfortunately I’ve only read this after I’ve reached the end of my tether dealing with a work colleague like this and feel that I’ve been well and truly sucked in. I’ve tried in the past and recently to explain this to my boss but just feel like everything is taken in isolation and excuses are made for my colleague. I’m on the verge of quitting a project that I set up and love but wondered if you had any advice on how to communicate these issues more effectively to my boss before I do quit?

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Thank you for reaching out and although I don’t know the whole situation, I recommend to take the drama out of the issues and stick to the facts take the emotion out and deal with facts. Hope this helps!

  4. bruce says:

    Hi Pat,

    I believe my gf has this victim mentality. she makes me feel like I am her only source of happiness as she constantly falls out with her friends. it has got much worse for the last 6 months and it seems like we never have a positive conversation, instead our conversation is taken up by her bitching about her friends. I don’t feel like I can do this for much longer, I have suggested that she speak to a therapist about it but she refuses. when I then tell her that I can’t deal with acting as her personal therapist, she gets upset saying “i feel bad that i do this to you”. I am stuck because I want to her to understand that she has this victim mentality but im not sure how to tell her it in a positive way that will not end in her feeling angry and wrongly “diagnosed”?

    great article
    cheers pat,


    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Sorry to hear you’re experiencing this! Dealing with people who have a victim mentality is not easy, so I hope you find the tips shared in this article effective…

  5. Steph says:

    You almost word for word quoted Dr. Orloff, wow.

  6. Francene Haller Hartley says:

    Hi! My 33 yr. old son has taken on the mantle of victimhood wholeheartedly. He also has turned projection into an art form. Our interactions have turned bizarre, full of revised history and angry. I’ve been altering my normal calm, forgiving and ok isms with speaking the truth, I hope with love. He appears to feel very hostile with me “seeing him”. My latest approach is to take recovery time first( I’m depleted), set better boundaries, PRACTICE and REPEAT. I’m feeling discouraged and exhausted. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      There is never a one size fits all approach, but I recommend just listening to him because usually victims just want to be heard. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with what he says, just validate how he feels. Hope this helps!

  7. Noah says:

    Hi Pat,
    My girlfriend has been dealing with this mindset her whole life. (She’s 16 I’m 17) It seems to be her “go to move” when she is confronted with even the slightest correction, or observation about how she treats me and other people. She believed and says that I am told everyday that I’m doing stuff wrong. She doesn’t seem to take care of her own well being and her own thoughts of whether or not she actually does it or not. She clamps on to the observer’s belief’s. I don’t think that will get her anywhere. Please please help me. I read your article 15 minutes ago and we are already on step 4. She came up with a plan. To not listen to the negativity. I asked her what she classifies as negative. She said rude comments. I asked her to classify that. She said when people tell me or say that I’m not being nice. “Oh you don’t communicate with me enough”. Those make her tick. They dwell. They cause this mess. How can I make this go on? The process of course.

    Thank you,

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Thank you Noah for your openness about what you’re facing. Remember that people with a victim mentality actually feed themselves by taking other people’s energy while talking about themselves. The best way to stop it is to stop feeding the dysfunction. In other words not have a ‘poor you’ attitude, but instead show them you are confident they can overcome their challenges, by saying something like ‘you’re a strong person, I know you’ll overcome this, I’ve seen you overcome a lot of things’.
      Hope this helps!

  8. Brianna says:

    My mother and I recently got into a disagreement and her apology was sent via email yesterday. I’m struggling to respond when she is explaining what things are going on in her life that makes her unhappy, consistently makes remarks about not having no outlet and when she tries to talk out her daily frustrations to me I change the subject. I do, but only because I can’t sit and dwell on the negative like she does. She mentions that work and her husband are extremely stressful and I don’t know how to approach her with out hurting her feelings. When upset she can hold grudges for long periods of time and growing up with her she would give the silent treatment for days when upset. I wish I could share her email to get more insight as I feel stuck because I love her, but so mad that she has turned every bit of her apology into a pity party for herself. I want to tell her she needs to seek help i.e., therapy, but scared of her reaction. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! Thank you!!

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hi Brianna, it’s hard for a daughter to give advice to their mother, because it’s usually not received very well…
      What I would recommend, is when the dust settles, to share some books with her that could help her or invite her to attend personal development seminars. I think she can benefit greatly from access to personal growth information.
      Hope this helps!

  9. Lynda says:

    Thank you so much for your article. I realize I have started to adopt an anti-victim mindset for my husband as I feel I’m at the end of my rope- nothing else has worked. In the past I’ve tried to get him to take responsibility for his actions (yelling harshly at our kids or at me in front of our kids). I’ve told him those actions and words are damaging to his relationships. I guess I’ve been trying to reason with him.
    It seems to me what he’s dealing with is a cross between anger about his horrible childhood (victim mindset) and trying to gain control of things that aren’t his to control (maybe because he feels he hasn’t had the control over his own life that he should have).
    So kind of a cross between victim and control. Do those usually go together?
    I just need advice on ensuring I set boundaries without coming across as superior. He’s told me I make him feel like he’s not good enough or bad when I put my foot down and stick up for me and the kids. At this point our marriage is near over so I don’t think he will accept any empathy and support from me. But I need to keep boundaries so he doesn’t hurt us while at the same time not damaging his psyche more.
    Thank you

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hi Lynda,
      Thank you for your comment, and it looks like you’re facing some serious challenges.
      I would recommend you both do marriage counselling and that your husband does some trauma therapy to deal with hs childhood. Because what is important is to treat the root causes of his behaviour, not the behaviour itself. There are many excellent trauma therapies that help, such as EMDR.
      Hope this helps!

  10. Sam The Blueberry says:

    I believe my mother has a victim mindset. Shes had this mindset my whole life and its caused me and my sister to become her “therapists” at a very young age. I understand the abuse she went through as a child and the abuse we all were going through with my father. I always wanted to find a way to help my mother when I was younger but never could until now. Shes even thanked me listening to her and helping her get through this mindset. But sadly no matter how much tact I have or how I approach the situation she continues with this victim mentality. Shes abusing my sister and refusing to take responsibility for her actions. I just wanted to ask. Am I wrong for wanting to give up on her and take my sister out of that situation?

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Thank you for sharing, and I don’t think it’s your job or responsibility to help someone who is not ready to be helped. The best thing you can do is encourage her to seek professional help so you can live the life you were meant to, instead of being held back by someone not ready for change.

  11. Sally says:


    Thank you for this informative post. I have met someone through a dating app and we had an instant mental connection. He is a kind person, smart and very supportive. We only knew each other for 2 weeks now without meeting in person because of the lock-down. He has a chronic illness and constant pain in which it gets bad by time and will eventually lead to death (as he told me that my life will be short). I recently realised that he has a victim mind set (keeps telling me that I people alwayes misread me, i have many enemies, i am not meant to be happy). He is depressed most days and sleeps a lot. I thought of ending this virtual friendship/ relation/communication but then I thought that this will have a very negative impact on him, and that I should be compassionate to a fellow human being in which we got in-touch through this hard time. I also think that when the lockdown is over, i might think twice before meeting in person because of what I have mentioned above, Please note that he supports me in my work that needs high focus and time, and keeps encouraging me to work and stuff. What do you think I should do?

    Thank you so much.

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hi Sally,

      Thanks for sharing where you’re at. It seems like you’re in two minds. Whenever I’m in two minds about something I create a list of pros and cons, it helps a lot. There’s always a list that outweighs the other, so I get my answer this way.
      Hope this helps!

  12. Alana says:

    Hi Pat,

    This is an amazing article and I found it really useful. The hard thing is that in my situation, the victim is my ex-partner of 10 years who left me when I was 36 weeks pregnant only two months ago. Our baby is now 5 weeks old. He left me to “work on” his dire financial situation (which I think the victim mindset has actually worsened and is worsening yet still) and I am trying to be supportive because I want our baby to have a good father someday, or at least I want to maximise the chances of that happening, but it’s hard because at the same time I am having to raise our daughter alone without his help and I feel that I want to cut him off because he has broken up with me. I suppose it might take me getting the hang of balancing limited contact with him and letting him visit her whenever he wants, and while being supportive whenever he is here. Do you have any thoughts on this situation? Any advice is welcome! 🙂

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this! It must be so hard for you. The only thing you can do is let him do what he thinks he needs to do, and just focus on being the best mother you can be. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to change someone who has walked away from his family…

  13. Agnes T says:

    Hi Pat,

    Thanks a lot for your informative post. I believe my mother has developed over time victim mentality (along with mild depression and anxiety). She was a kind and strong lady; but the past several years were different.

    Recently, she has started complaining and screaming on others for minute things. If someone if against her opinion, she feels the other person is just bad. Sometimes she starts to yell that we all should take away her life instead of troubling her (where trouble is only trying to put other people’s voice).

    Things become worst when I talk about taking divorce (from my abusive partner), as she gets tantrums and become sick. Because of all this there remains neither any scope of taking control of my own life, nor helping out my mother. I am not sure where to start with as any discussion in this direction brings her anxiety attacks.

    I love and respect her a lot for making me who I am, but current situations are exhausting, and I very much want to improve things. Her meditation is not helping her as instead of acting upon things she just try to block things.

    I just wanted to ask which particular self-help books and counselling-services can address this; and how can I peacefully get her to think that things need to change.
    Your help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hi Agnes,

      It’s nice to see you want to help your mum but it can be hard if the person doesn’t want to change and if they think everyone around them is to blame. Plus, it gets worse with age!
      I think what you should do is not try to change her, but you can definitely point out some good books for her to read. A good book is “Get out of your own way”.
      Hope this helps!

  14. Patrick says:

    Hi Pat,
    Thank you very much for this wonderful article. I have one question: what is the best way to react when the victim (my wife in this instance) makes you feel fully responsible for something that is more of a shared responsibility? One example is that yesterday night i organized a nice little home charcoal barbecue, biught all the food, and set up everything. After gril’ing our food, we realized the food tasted bad, due to the chimicals in the charcoal. My wife blamed me for not choosing the charcoal wisely, telling that this is a proof of me not caring about her. That i « gave her » this terrible food. As much as I fully take responsibility for not taking the time to choose a toxic free charcoal to make our dinner tastier, I felt like she could also get some responsibility here and watch her language. Or else, we will not find something that used to be in a certain place, and she blames me for it, whereas in reality we are both responsible for not ensuring this item remains in its specific spot. Do you see my point? The reason for me asking is that I feel like I have sort of a child mentality when i want to make her aware that there are certain instances when we are BOTH responsible and that she just can’t blame it all on me. At the same time, I do know that I have some level of reapo sobility in it. Thank you for your much appreciated response.

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Sorry to hear you’re going through this Patrick, it’s never easy!
      When it comes to helping people take responsibility, the best way to do it is first to lead by example. Show how much responsibility you take for your actions by saying things like “you are right, I really messed up and I’m sorry”. It’s also important to reward her when she does take responsibility by praising her.
      It’s really important to always find opportunities to praise your partner, eventually they will want to start praising you too, instead of remaining negative.
      Hope this helps!

  15. Ash says:


    I’m in a very frustrating loop with my mother. We BOTH have a victim mentality and it feeds into eachother. I’m 16, have always been homeschooled, and thanks to moving so much, have no irl friends. We both have chronic physical illness and I was born with some mental issues (we also both have developed mental disorders, namely depression and CPTSD). She’s unemployed and equally friendless, so we literally both spend all day in the same house and as much as I try to avoid her, we interact frequently.

    Both of my parents constantly criticize me and refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes when they’re abusive, they don’t let me get a job or anything so I can’t get emancipated. Because of this and how “unfair” my born illnesses are, I’m stuck in my own victim mentality (which I desperately want out of but a lot of my powerlessness is genuine- The part where it’s a mentality is stuff like when we fight, I find myself blaming my anxiety or my parents for raising me this way, rather than accepting I have free will)

    My online friends sort of indulge this mentality by insisting I truly am in a deeply abusive household and just showering me in sympathy, when I ask for help coming up with solutions they say they don’t have any ideas. But I don’t know how to ask for support without just getting pity, which triggers the victimhood more. But I don’t want to cut off my only window to the outside world.

    As for my mom, she used me as a therapist up until I had a violent panic attack (severe hyperventilating and sobbing and stuff, as I’m a young man it’s pretty weird to see me cry) and continues to blame me and my father for her issues. It’s my fault for [enter issue here] because I stress her out or medical issues genuinely outside my control take too much treatment or I’m too disrespectful. It’s my dad’s fault for [enter issue here] for never emotionally validating her or doing anything for her (even though he’s basically been her servant for at least a decade…)

    Due to financial problems and the current quarantine, professional help isn’t an option for either of us.

    I just want to take control of my life from the both of us. I want a chance to be happy. My friends tell me to just wait until I can move out, but I don’t think I can wait that long, nor do I want to. She screams at me when I suggest she take responsibility for her actions or take power over her own life or even when I suggest she may not be perfect or right under every circumstance. I may be stuck in a very similar mindset, but at least I admit it and try to find something to do about it. Of course that doesn’t excuse my own behaviour, but I’m open for and desperate for change…

    Please give me some advice,

    – Ash

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hi Ash,

      Sorry to hear you’re going through this.
      The only advice I can give you is to get a few psychotherapy sessions as a family and individually. EMDR also can work well.
      The issues are too complex to be able to give you advice unfortunately, and your whole family would need to attend counselling together.
      Hope this helps!

  16. Ava L says:

    I believe my best friend has been holding this victim mindset for a rlly long time. We’ve been friends since really young and now we’re in our 20s. She comes from an abusive and toxic family and feels like she has to overwork herself to feel valued. Recently, I pointed out smth she did that was selfish I said it respectfully and explained why and she completely exploded on me. She brought things up from the past I thought we already discussed and fixed but it’s clear she’s been holding a grudge. I realized she cannot take accountability for anything she does and anytime I point smth out that’s not okay in how she speaks or talks to me for ex., she somehow flips the situation and starts blaming me or her toxic family or her anxiety/depression and then starts saying how dare I say these awful things about her and she would never say anything like that to me, even though I never insult her I just point smth out. I feel like I’m in a toxic friendship because I love and value her but I have to walk on eggshells around what I say to her because she becomes overly sensitive. It’s hard bc even though she does thing that may hurt me and I try to point it out so she can improve she makes me feel bad for even pointing it out but then talks about how much she values and needs my friendship. I am ready to even let go or at least take space from this friendship until she gets help to deal with her anxiety and victim mindset but I don’t know how to tell her this. I fear she’ll start crying hysterically and guilt trip me to stay in the friendship and accuse me of leaving her in this vulnerable time but I cannot stay in a friendship like this if the person is not at least trying to improve themselve. Idk what to do at this point, we’re supposed to meet up in a few days to talk about some things she’s said but I’m worried how it’ll go and I just want to take space or end the friendship but not sure how. I tried before to get her to seek therapy but she’s never done it. Also she has a firm belief that I don’t care for her even though I always check on her and try but from her anxiety she keeps projecting on our friendship, she has this narrative that nobody even me care about her. I obviously do and I explained this but she’s not understanding and idk what to do anymore. I’m worried for her but also need to care for my own mental health as this is become exhausting. I’m worried if I leave the friendship she’ll just take it as me leaving her and not caring for her even tho I want to continue this but only if she seeks help but she doesn’t even see the issue in herself. Any advice pls??

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hi Ava,

      Sorry to hear you’re going through this with your friend.
      A friendship is about having mutual support and trust between two people and unfortunately it looks like the relationship between both of you has lost the mutual support and trust.
      If the friendship is no longer serving you and no longer serving your friend, it might be best to take a temporary break from it. It might actually lead to a healthier relationship in the future.

      Hope this helps!

  17. Cara says:

    Hi Pat,

    I have a friend who holds this mindset and we’ve talked about it before. I also realized she consistently projects her anxiety into our friendship when it’s irrational. I talked to her recently about this and said that I was going to take a step back and hopefully in that time she can work in herself and seek some help for her anxiety so she doesn’t project it. She was super against taking a step back from the friendship and tried to convince me to stick with it and she’ll do the work to help herself. However, she is against seeing a therapist and refuses to acknowledge how her mental health is impacting her daily life. I think she finally realized tho how it is affecting our friendship. I told her I don’t want to force her to seek help but I don’t understand how she’s going to do the work to help herself and stop projecting her anxiety and difficulties when she’s not going to be seeing a professional. I don’t want to be in a cycle where she says she’ll work in herself but nth changes but I know I can’t force her to seek progressional help. I feel like I’m already exhausted and I want to be there for her during her tough times but I feel like I can’t do it anymore if she’s not doing anything to help herself. What can I do? What are other ways she may be able to work in her mental health if she’s against therapy? Is it bad if I take a step back from the friendship if she refuses to seek help? Idk what to do at this point bc my issues is not her mental illness, it’s her projection of it onto every aspect of her life like our friendship yet not doing anything about it. Pls help any insight is great.

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hi Cara,

      If her attitude is affecting you too much, my only advice is to distance yourself, as you are not her therapist.
      If you have given her the best advice you have, which is to seek help, then you have done your job.
      Sometimes people have lessons they need to learn and you have to provide them the space to learn them.
      For her to avoid getting out of the rut she is in, she must be getting some form of benefit or else she would try to get out of it.
      I hope this helps!

  18. Kainat says:

    My father has a victim personality. He had gone through tough times. But now he acts as if the whole world is after him and wants to attack him. eg: If we politely tell him about his short-comings, he would act as if he’s been stabbed in the back: even though we take great care about our words and surroundings seldom undermining his authority or integrity. He teaches psychology to high school students, he sometimes understands that he is wrong but refuses any help. He even refuses talk about it. If i try some tricks he understands that and it all just falls back on me. Lately it feels as if I’m living in a totalitarian regime. He is getting more aggressive, more controlling, hard to reason with. Making life hell for me and my family.
    It’d be really kind of you if you could suggest me some tactics or tricks to use with him.

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Sorry to hear you’re going through this challenge, it’s never easy!
      There’s no “one size fits all” approach but what i have found works well, it to avoid labelling the person as a victim and avoid criticizing them because this feeds the dysfunction. Instead validate how they feel (don’t agree), by saying things like “I hear you’re quite upset” or “I can see this really affects you”. Sometimes, people with a victim mentality just want to feel heard…
      Hope this helps!

  19. Khadija says:

    Hey Pat,

    I have a friend that suffers with the victim mindset and I am not sure what to do.

    I have read through your blog/article and I feel that no matter how many times i have advised them to do things in a way that would help them, they don’t seem to listen. I have reached my limit and I am not sure what to do. I have done almost everything this post says and the more I have tried to be there for them, the more the problems arise. It has come to the point where I’ve chosen to distance myself from them because the more i stick around and try to be there for them, the more harder and difficult it gets because I had to not only deal with my own issues, but i also had to take some of theirs on my shoulders. I already have enough on my plate as it is and i am not sure if what i am doing is right.

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      I think you’ve made the right decision to distance yourself, sometimes some relationships become too toxic. It is up to them to change, you can only guide them by sharing books or resources but if they don’t want to change, it means that somehow some of their needs get met by acting like a victim…

  20. Alice says:

    Hi Pat,
    This blog was very helpful, and insightful. I have a friend with this mindset was noticing I was so drained after our conversations. Everything is “woe is me.” I know she’s had some serious childhood trauma, I fear that bringing up this topic might make me seem insensitive and like I don’t understand. The truth is I just want to see her free!
    Any tips?
    Also would love a blog about being in a marriage or committed relationship with someone Of this mindset.

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Thank you Alice for your feedback and comments. I’m glad you found the blog post helpful. Yes you can become very drained from that type of conversation. I guess if your friend is feeling stressed and her behaviour and conversation is remaining the same, she may need some professional guidance. A quick tip would be to ask her to talk about something she loves to do, what makes her laugh. Alternatively you could ask her how she could help a person who is feeling ‘woe is me’ all of the time and she may come up with some surprising answers for you. Pat

  21. Janice says:

    Hi Pat,

    This article was very insightful and I’m glad I have come across it. As much as I don’t like assuming mental disorders on the people around me sometimes I start picking up ongoing patterns. I understand everyone can go through phases of self pity given circumstances but what I believed was a phase is actually a lifestyle for some. Great article on victim mindset, I got a lot of information and help out of it, thank you

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Thank you for your positive feedback and best wishes. I’m happy you found some help in these words. It’s an area that can be quite painful for both parties. I wish you well on your journey. Pat

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