Don’t be a Victim – The Dangers of Victim Mentality

swan reflections

I’ve been seeing a lot of victim mentality these days.  What’s another word for victim?  Oppressed.  So people are thinking that they are getting oppressed by these evil oppressors and their minds are being overtaken by these negative mind states as a result.

Now if you really are a victim, then something needs to be done to rectify the situation – maybe you need to speak up about it at an appropriate time to try and clear things up with all involved.  And if that doesn’t work, speak to someone in a higher authority to stop it.

The problem is, people are not always victims, even though they claim to be – it’s these situations that I’ll be focusing on in this post – not on the legitimate victims.

The dangers of victim mentality are threefold:

  1. It develops negative states of mind – things like resentment, jealousy, envy and hatred towards your oppressors.  These things poison your mind, man – so that you can no longer see clearly as you’ve been consumed by the resentment or hatred.  You’ve been defeated by the poison of hatred and it’s clouding your mind.
  2. People are claiming victimhood as a justification for being morally superior – “I’m a victim.  Therefore it’s okay to attack whoever I want cos I’m defending the victims.  And if you disagree with me (even for legitimate reasons) you are evil because you are attacking a victim.”
  3. You are taking the power away from yourself and just putting the blame on others.  You are not looking inside yourself to find how to best solve the situation.

Victimhood teaches people to be envious of others.  For example, they might think:

  • “This girl is prettier than me.  She must be a female dog”.  Well, how pretty or how ugly your face is does not determine how good your heart is.  And the fact that you’ve just attacked someone based on their looks shows that your heart is not entirely beautiful.  Some people are gorgeous – they are lucky that they were born that way – the Buddha said that beauty can come from being kind to others in past lives (that means I must not have been too kind to others in past lives! lol).  So if a girl or a guy is pretty or handsome – maybe they are nice, maybe they are not nice – you can’t really tell just by their looks – you need to watch their words and actions.
  • “I’m poor.  That guy is filthy rich!  He must be corrupt!”  Well, what if that person worked really hard honestly for long hours to save up his money?  What if, instead of partying and spending all his wealth, he worked overtime and weekends for years?  What if, they sacrificed their fun lifestyle, working hard instead, in order to give the best for their family and their children?  The size of someone’s bank account does not tell you how good or bad of a person they are.  Their actions do.

The sense of being victimized is also used to justify the use of force.  For example, Hitler claimed those evil capitalist Jews were victimizing working class Germans – therefore was justified in killing Jews and sending them to concentration camps.  So in his eyes, Hitler was the good guy, killing off the oppressors so that the oppressed can flourish.  Can you see how distorted it can get?

So you’ve got to be careful whenever you notice these sorts of thoughts creeping in – as the rationalizations (rational lies) to yourself can be extremely deceptive.  You need to stop yourself before these poisons take over your mind and especially before those hateful thoughts against oppressors turn into verbal and physical violence – because it can make things far worse.

So even if you think that you are defending victims – you can fall into the trap of letting hatred overtaking your mind under the guise of seemingly doing something virtuous.  So you need to be really careful to not let hatred overtake your mind under the guise of “defending the weak” – because if the hatred in your mind starts manifesting as hateful speech and physically attacking people – you’ve already lost your mind to the hatred and the situation is getting way out hand.

The Buddha offers some advice to the monk Phagguna who, even though he was a monk, lived too closely to the nuns – and whenever someone would attack the nuns, he would get angry.  Now the Buddha’s advice here is not easy to do but it’s worth a try:

If anyone would:

  • Criticize or hit those you are trying to defend
  • Criticize you or hit you

you should let go of thinking like a worldly person and should train yourself thus:

My mind remain affected by this.  I will not say anything bad.  I shall dwell full of concern and compassion and loving kindness.  I shall not give in to hatred.

This how you should train yourself.

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