How to Overcome the Victim Mentality
Is everyone really a victim? If someone makes fun of you for being short, tall, skinny, fat, black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, redneck, aristocrat, Christian or atheist – is that really bullying? Don’t misunderstand what I am saying: bullying is wrong and it must be addressed, especially by us as believers. But is everyone really a victim of bullying or have we created a victim mentality?
Why is it that the same criticism, mistreatment or handicap that produces so many victims develops so few people of character? Everybody faces some form of persecution or hardship during their lives. What is it that makes the difference between giving up and declaring oneself a victim – and choosing to overcome the obstacles, thus developing character?
Was Abraham Lincoln a victim when his character was maligned? Was Corrie ten Boom a victim when she was a prisoner of Ravensbruck? Was Jim Elliot a victim when martyred? Is Joni Erikson Tada a victim as a prisoner in her own body? Was Thomas Edison a victim when he was told he was stupid? Was Cassie Bernall a victim when she was killed for her faith?
The answer is yes, they were all victims but they did not embrace a victim mindset but rather pushed past self-pity to develop personal character. Once again, let me state clearly that I think we should have zero tolerance for bullying…but my question is, have we made it easier and more attractive in our society to be the victim rather than the victor?
I think there are several core behaviors that foster this victim mindset in our society.
- Developing a sense of entitlement.
- Focusing on the symptoms of problems and not the real cause.
- Giving more attention to those adopting the victim mentality than those with the victor mindset.
- Using high profile bullying cases for political or personal agendas.
I would like to suggest four ways to help your students overcome the victim mentality and turn hardship into character building opportunities.
- Address bullying head-on. Whether it manifests itself in physical, verbal or emotional mistreatment, do not ignore the issue. Make this a teachable moment for both parties. Be aware that cliques are a breeding ground for mistreatment. (James 1:2-4; James 2:1-9; Philippians 2:3-4; Galatians 6:2-3;)
- Help students see the opportunity for growth when confronted with hardship or mistreatment. Do not make light of the suffering but help the students focus on the potential for character building and healing. (1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 2:19-21; 1 Peter 3:16; )
- Teach your students about the dignity and worth of every person. Show them scripturally that while human affirmation is desirable, their true value is found in Christ. (1 Peter 2:17; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 5:8; )
- Model Biblical encouragement, edification and unconditional love. They not only need to be told they have value, they must be shown. (1 Peter 3:8-9; James 3:13; Ephesians 4:11-12; Romans 12:10; )
I know there is a thin line that separates the concepts of this post. What ways have you addressed both bullying and the victim mentality?