There’s a growing trend in our current times: Everyone sees themselves as a victim. This has crossed over into modern thinking for Dads too. A few minutes on Twitter or even speaking to other Dads tells me everything I need to know: Dads have embraced a victim mindset.
This is worrying at a time when the father’s role in the family is being increasingly eroded. A time when Dads need to be strong minded and willed.
I’m generation Y – and we’re coming to the realisation that we have to take responsibility for our lives, our careers and our families. Seeing yourself as a victim doesn’t fit with that. The question is this:
Are you content with seeing yourself as a victim or are you prepared to do what’s necessary to be in control of your life and direction.
What is the Victim Mindset?
What is the victim mindset? Is it a term I made up so I could have a bit of a rant on my blog? The victim mindset (or mentality) is actually a recognised psychological condition, often picked up in childhood but equally can manifest itself later in life:
Victim mentality is an acquired (learned) personality trait in which a person tends to regard him or herself as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave like it were the case—even in the absence of clear evidence. It depends on habitual thought processes and attribution. (Source.)
Although it often affects abuse or trauma survivors, it isn’t exclusive to those situations. Survivors of abuse can keep reading but be assured I’m not writing this to belittle (or diagnose) your situation.
Instead I want to warn against the outside factors that encourage Dads to adopt a victim mindset. And of course, how you can fight against that.
Door step debt collecting taught me that people will do anything to avoid accepting responsibility for their mistakes.
A victim in the true sense is someone who has suffered harm, loss or just plain bad luck. However the victim mindset goes deeper than this into darker territory.
Someone with the victim mindset:
Believes they have no responsibility for the event that took place
They were not in a position to change or affect the event
They should therefore be pitied
Working as a self-employed debt collector in council housing estates (UK version of the projects) was an eye-opener for me. People would offer any excuse, any tactic to avoid taking responsibility for their mistakes.
I visited run down hovels whose inhabitants had run up tens of thousands of unpaid debts. I heard excuses, lies, aggression. Grown men and women would hide, spit and blame others but only once did anyone say: ‘I take full responsibility for this mess and I want to pay the money back.’
One person who was prepared to accept responsibility for their life outcomes.
Real talk: over a year ago, I was stuck in a rut of victimhood. Everyone was out to get me. My life was being sabotaged by others and there was no way out. Or so I told myself. During these last months, I’ve picked myself out of that mindset of being a victim. Now I’m back to full fighting fitness and ready to take control of my life. If you keep reading, you’ll be inspired to do the same.
How Does the Victim Mindset Affect Dads?
If you tune in to how some Dads refer to themselves or the values they promote, you’ll pick up on the victim mindset pretty quickly.
Some examples of this may include:
Complaining on social media about how the cafe where you wanted to change your baby didn’t have male only change facilities.
Pointing out that ‘Dads don’t Babysit’ and that it’s instead called something else (not being a Dad though).
Making sure that everyone knows that you boycott companies whose marketing campaigns are targeted exclusively at women.
Telling your colleagues that your boss is ‘out to get you’ and there’s nothing you can do to improve the situation.
There are even whole websites that seem to glory in feeding the myth that men, and Dads in particular, are victims or should consider themselves as such. I’m not going to name any names but if you follow my Twitter, you’ll know who I’m talking about.
The victim mindset is being pushed upon Dads. At the forefront of this are websites like @GoodMenProject. Steer clear.
If you’re reading this and you feel enraged or triggered: ‘Who is this guy to tell me that Dads babysit or whutever.’ then good. You definitely need to read this!
My position is this: there is a wider problem that stems from the victim mindset being prevalent among so many Dads. This is bigger than just sounding a bit pathetic on social media or in the office staff room. Instead the victim mindset affects your choices and your direction in life.
Here’s what I mean: If you believe you are a victim and than you have no control over the situation you are in, then you are also absolved of any responsibilities.
You have no responsibility for your life direction or outcome
You have no responsibility for how you treat your family
You have no responsibility for your health
Why? Because none of this is your fault and none of this is under your control!
Or is it? Imagine one day you woke up and said ‘I’m going to take control and responsibility for my life. I can’t control everything but there are somethings I have influence over. I’m going to work on those.’
Would your life be different? Would you still see yourself as a victim of circumstance?
Every Dad that reads this post has the power to make small improvements in all of these areas. But to do it, you need to ditch the victim mindset.
I don’t need to imagine waking up one morning with a different view. Because for me, it was a reality. I made a conscious decision to take control of my life, my relationships, my money and my career and to get to work.
As with most things, a sense of being a victim can have a knock-on impact on your kids. If they see you absolving yourself of all responsibility, are they more likely to do the same when they’re older.
If they see you with no drive – just an acceptance that people are stopping you from doing what you want to do will they follow your example?
What Can You do to Ditch the Victim Mindset?
Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ (it’s a problem isn’t it?) but how can you change your mindset into one that focuses in personal improvement rather than victimhood?
My experience was a kind of Damascus Road awakening. I’m not really sure how it happened, but searching ‘Self Help for Men‘ on Amazon was a game changer. Since then I’ve been on a voyage of learning and discovery to become better. To do more.
If you suspect you are falling into the traps I described above, there are steps you can take right now to stop and even reverse this unhelpful world view.
1. Be careful what you read
I alluded to this in my first heading: Be careful what you read. Read only books, websites and publications that are going to challenge you to be better. It might not be your fault, but you always have choices. A lot of ‘men’s’ content sites and dad blogs contain articles that feed the victim mindset. If you think you’ve been reading one, stop. Now.
Right now, I’m listening to Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One concept he brings up near the start of the book is about responsibility. That you are always responsible or ‘response-ABLE’. You always have the opportunity to respond to your environment or circumstances. It’s up to you whether that’s a positive or a negative response.
But, if you read websites or books that pander to your sense of indignation against the world, those books will affect your psyche. You’ll be more likely to see yourself as a victim if what you read online and in print says you are.
2. Be careful of how you think
Look at it this way: You’re having a tough time at work. You’ve made mistakes but you feel like your being punished unfairly for them. What can you do? You could play the victim, curl into a ball and moan ‘EVERYONE IS AGAINST ME’ in a pathetic voice.
Or you could start to work on your own life: how can you be better at work. How can you manage time better. Can you learn about persuasion and influence to bring people round to your point of view? One of these answers will lead you to be better. One will not.
As Covey says, you have the choice of response. How you respond in your own mind is the start of that choice. If something from outside me is grating or annoying, I think ‘Why does this bother me?’ I’ll keep asking that until I’ve stopped coming up with reasons. Normally they are so trivial, I can dismiss them at that point and move on.
Refuse to be labelled as a victim. A victim mindset blames culture. Instead take responsibility for your own life and failings. Do more.
If negative thoughts and negative reading feed a victim mindset, how about other people? We all know negative people who suck the energy out of a room (you’re thinking of someone now, aren’t you?).
Is spending time with that person going to help you feel less or more like a victim? Or to put it another way – will spending time with positive people make your feel more positive about yourself and your life in general?
I don’t really buy in to the idea of cutting people out of my life completely – unless they are destructive forces. But you can certainly choose to spend less time with negativity and people who have bought into being a victim.
Think about your social media usage. I find Facebook to be a much more negative place than say, Twitter or Instagram (you can follow ThisDadDoes.com on all these platforms – no victimhood I promise). So spend less time in places where there are ‘victims’ than other platforms and make changes as you need to.
Now you understand what the victim mindset is and how it can appear in your life. It’s very likely that you will be unable to control your life events. But you can control you.
If you’re stuck in a cycle of feeling like a victim, there isn’t a magic pill or course to make you stop. Instead make small changes. Read a two posts of this website every week (that will take a year) or start to go for walks in the evening. You could even try something like the Wim Hof Method (no weird spiritual stuff, I promise).
Choose not to be a victim. Generation snowflake wants you to be weak. devoid of responsibility and helpless. You have a choice to accept that reality. Or to create a new one.
Keep on pushing through.
P.S. If you’ve been inspired to ditch the victim mindset and be a better Dad, a great place to start is my free ebook. You can download it here.