One of the things I try to catch myself in is the Victim mindset. It’s a life-leeching, thief of joy
we all – ahem – fall victim to. It can be easily triggered – that disappointing piece of news.
Tough feedback from a manager. Not making your quarterly target. Not getting that
It’s a mindset I try to move quickly out of, and help others do the same. Too much potential
for change, innovation and impact is stymied when Victim is in residence. Teams doing
important work get derailed by this mindset. People get disillusioned. Cynical. Defeated.
Over time this can become entrenched as the standard way of working and relating.
When we think we can’t make a difference, or impact a situation, or when we give over our
power to something outside ourselves – we forfeit access to agency, ingenuity and control.
It’s easy to spot when you or your team is ground down by a victim mindset. Like Snow
White’s dwarves, Victim has (at least) 7 companions:
Helpless: ‘I can’t do this. Please tell me what to do’
Overwhelm: ‘I don’t know where to start. It’s not possible.’
Scarcity: ‘We don’t have enough time or money’
Judgement: ‘Who’s fault is this? It shouldn’t be this way.’
Resignation: ‘It’s all too hard. It will never change’
Blame: ‘THEY should do something about that’
Complaint: ‘It’s not fair. Why is it like this?’
When you hear or see any of these, you’ll know Victim mindset is in town.
Why the Victim mindset is so corrosive is because it hides out in the circumstances. When
your attention is only on dealing with the circumstances, the game’s already up. Focusing on
how bad something is / how you feel about it / why it shouldn’t be like that / how unfair it is
– keeps you in a Victim mindset loop.
When you start to notice the Victim mindset, you can begin to redirect your attention to
your choices, and your source of power. You are on your way to developing a Leaders
mindset. You choose your response and how you show up.
Noticing when you have a Victim mindset (or rather, when it has you!), and changing it to a
Leaders mindset, is not about denying a tough situation. Remember, I learned this through
people living in hunger. The problems were enormous, but when their attention focused to
the ability they had to choose and act, a Leaders Mindset was activated. From there, they
took powerful action to change the circumstances.
We can do that too.
This is why it’s one of the top mindsets I work with people and organisations on. Getting
mastery with this changes lives: in communities living with hunger and poverty; in
organisations dealing with challenge and change; and in our own lives as well.