Last week I talked about something that is a little bit more oblique to productivity but which if you fall into the habit of it or fall for a perpetrator of it will waste your time and ultimately damage your productivity. If you get into the habit of it yourself it will for sure ruin your reputation. That episode is all about Chasing Clout or influence and popularity and it’s available to listen to right now.
But victimhood was seductive, a release from responsibility and caring. Fear would be transmuted into weary resignation; failure would no longer generate guilt but, instead, would spawn a comforting self-pity.
From the novel "Intensity" by Dean Koontz
I’ve wanted to tackle this topic for a very long time but it was difficult to even get started on it. Just raising the subject of victim mentality is a dangerous business because those that buy into it will vehemently defend their position - a position born out of negative experiences, negative influences or negative bias. The thing is… I can’t let it go any further – not that I think my talking about it will change the world – but it may just help a few of you that are listening to get ahead in the world or at least get passed whatever victim based thinking is holding you back. Victim mentality has gotten out of hand these days and as someone who hosts a productivity podcast which aims to help my fellow creatives I can’t just sit by and let it pass.
The quote I used a minute ago by novelist Dean Koontz describes the inner thoughts of someone with victim mentality in perfect detail. - victimhood was seductive, a release from responsibility and caring. Fear would be transmuted into weary resignation; failure would no longer generate guilt but, instead, would spawn a comforting self-pity.
Do you recognise any of this? Because without going any further I’d say that all of that is spot on and accurate. That is the mindset of the those who engage in playing the victim – it is however simply a crutch, an opt out card. It allows you to believe that your lack of success is not your fault, not because you misjudged something, or you didn’t work hard enough or because you were an asshole that nobody liked and you fucked it up. By having something or someone or some group to blame you are giving yourself a free pass and allowing the poor me attitude to take over so that the next time you face a similar situation you won’t have learned from your last error and you won’t try harder. You can wallow again in the self-pity that says I wasn’t successful because the world, or some specific group is working against you.
We all have our ups and downs in life. Bad things might happen to you or people you know on a daily basis. But there are some people who claim it is never their fault. They argue that they have no control over the tough situations and problems they encounter. It is simply always happening to them.
People who constantly blame other people or situations for the events in their lives have a victim mentality. They say "It’s not my fault." Because everything that happens to them is the fault of others. They constantly complain about the bad things that happen in their lives. They don’t take any responsibility, asserting that the circumstances aren’t in their control.
People who have a victim mentality have usually suffered through trauma or hard times but haven’t developed a proper way to cope. As a result, they develop a negative view of life and because they don’t think anything is their fault, they have little or no sense of responsibility for their life.
We must stop this incessant victimhood mentality.
Somebody else will not fix things.
Somebody else will not make me healthy.
Somebody else will not make me happy.
These things are my responsibility.
Not the neighbour’s,
not the government’s,
not the church or the civic club.
Joel Salatin Unquote
So what’s so attractive about being a victim? Why is it so prevalent? Well there are some benefits to playing the victim that need to be considered.
· Victims have No accountability. Being accountable for your life means you’re in the driver’s seat. You take responsibility. That can be quite frightening to someone who has a victim mentality. They would have to admit life isn’t just the result of the actions of others. Taking responsibility bursts the protective bubble of victimhood.
· Playing the victim also brings a secondary gain such as sympathy, attention, and access to medication or funds and some people’s problems continue because of the secondary benefits. Of course, someone with a victim mentality might not even realize they are getting these benefits.
· Playing the victim also satisfies unconscious needs when it comes from past trauma or other negative experiences as they unconsciously seek validation and help from others. They play the “poor me” card consistently. This can generate sympathy and help from others, although in my experience it will eventually make them less likeable and unpleasant to be around. I try to keep those with a victim complex out of my life as they are consuming of my time and energy and don’t bring very much to the table.
· Lastly playing the victim card will mean that you will avoid taking risks. Projecting blame on others is a key part of the victim mentality. It’s a way to avoid being truly vulnerable and taking risks. When it comes to finding success, sometimes you have just got to move out of your comfort zone to get things done.
Now I have to admit for sure that I have gotten into this way of thinking in the past many times before and that even now I occasionally find that I am having to check myself to get out of the all too easy rut of victim mentality. The poor me attitude particularly annoys me in fact if I start to feel that way within myself as I know it’s really not going to get me anywhere.
I talked about it to an extent in the first episode of this mini season. I have had a series of negative experiences, particularly when it comes to filmmaking and funding in Scotland which is a colossal waste of time btw. I wasted literally years trying to get a foothold, but eventually realised that I was wasting my time and that I would never get funded. Film Scotland, back when they were called some other thing even told me on completion of my first feature, my only feature I hasten to add, that they will never fund me. That negative experience made my life a misery for years afterwards and of course played out to be true, so I should mention that at some point victim mentality could be based on the reality that there really are genuine victims in the world. Being unsupported in filmmaking is very much a 1t world problem and pales beyond insignificance when balanced against the true horrors of the world but it made mean pretty darn miserable for a very long time. I eventually accepted that the only way for me to get films made, albeit as a low budget filmmaker, was to ignore the funding bodies and just continuing to do it myself. By doing that I put myself in control, and as also happened with the car problem I talked about a few episodes ago, boxing it away in my mind this way allowed me to move past it and to start once more to get things done. Victim mentality literally kills productivity in that sense.
Of course, it’s normal to be unsatisfied in some parts of your life. But it’s important to look at the bigger picture. If you notice similar patterns across different areas of your life, you might have a victim mentality.
The first step to solving the problem is to identify and acknowledge it. Look for these signs in yourself to see if you might have adopted a victim mentality:
· You blame others for the way your life is
· You truly think life is against you
· You have trouble coping with problems in your life and feel powerless against them
· You feel stuck in life and approach things with a negative attitude
· You feel attacked when someone tries to offer helpful feedback
· Feeling bad for yourself gives you relief or pleasure
· You attract people who blame others and complain about their life
· It’s difficult for you to examine yourself and make changes
If you recognise any of these signs and you want to kill that nasty habit of Playing the Victim then here are a few pointers on how to get yourself out of it.
· Victim mentality is learned behaviour. In other words, it’s not something you’re born with. It's something you learn in a social environment. It could be learned from family members or the result of trauma. However, you have the power to overcome it. It’s the high level thinking I’ve talked about many times before. Extricate yourself from your unfortunate circumstances by taking action. This leads me to my next pointer.
· Take responsibility. You are the only one who controls your actions. You might not be able to control others, but you control how you react to them. You control who you spend your time with, and where. Realize your potential and get in the driver’s seat of your life.
· Self-care and compassion. Victim mentalities are subconsciously adopted as a way to cope, often from past trauma. Be compassionate to yourself in your recovery. Practice self-care and self-love. Journaling can be a helpful tool to work through your feelings.
· Start saying no. You can say no to something you don’t want to do. It’s okay. Even if other people feel you are letting them down, take care of your energy and prioritize yourself.
· Educate yourself. Read about the victim mentality and how it affects your life. Consider seeking therapy. The more you educate yourself on the topic, the more likely you are to stay on track with your recovery and avoid going back to your old way of thinking.
I want to talk to you once again about high-level thinking. That’s the ability we must all develop that allows us to work on our lives and careers at the same time that we are living and working in them. I also want to talk about the media and social media and how if we are not careful, we could find ourselves in an endless loop of victim-based thinking as we are unwittingly manipulated by individuals and groups that derive benefits from it.
Every single day the media shove stories about this sort of thing down our throats and every single day we see what I’ll refer to as “thought leaders” in these areas passionately push their opinions on how this group or that group are being oppressed. If you see a “discussion” on television these days where one party is debating with another you will usually find that the producers deliberately choose people for their chat shows and interviews that don’t just have conflicting opinions but who represent the biting hard extremes of the topic at hand. This makes for good television, but it doesn’t necessarily represent reality.
I have noticed what I have struggled to describe as race baiting on social media and in the media but that term never sat quite right with me in what I was trying to identify – Race baiting certainly happens and we should be aware of it, but there is something else going on out there which for a considerable time I couldn’t tangibly identify - a few months ago I went looking for a better description. The term I found was RACE HUSTLING. It was coined to describe those individuals who project themselves into the media spotlight as spokespersons whenever there is an alleged racial incident - Race hustlers are individuals who exploit racial situations and tensions to serve their own interests.
Hustlers don’t just exist to exploit racial tensions either. Every recognisable victim group has its own, often self-appointed, hustlers. Hopefully you recognise the sort of people I am talking about. And each victim group hustler will have another opposing hustler or two representing the other side of any argument, serving their own interests via their own YouTube channel or whatever as well.
Victim hustlers personally benefit by creating, amplifying and prolonging tensions in the world. Some of them are also clout chasers like I talked about last week. They’ll deliberately get into the middle of a shitstorm in order to receive financial benefit, reputation or status. Now please note here that I am not saying that racism, bigotry and prejudice don’t exist, of course they do, but as these hustlers know that it is not in their best interests to reach a conclusion or amnesty, they will never truly be interested in achieving one.
Please take everything these hustlers say and everything that is amplified by a press that wants you to be outraged and put you in the box of a victim sub class with a pinch of salt. Consider what you are being fed and ask yourself. Is this reality? Is this true? Is there some other game in play here? High Level Thinking will allow you to do this.
Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.
John Gardner Unquote
I’m no debater btw and I’ve found this episode difficult and frankly a little dangerous to put together. I am well aware that I may provoke the wrath of others by stating these things but as I do this show to try and help others, this was a topic I felt couldn’t put off any longer. I’m just trying to put into words some of the crazy shit that I am seeing these days.
I’m going to say something now which I hope will help, but it’s a little direct. The world is an unfair place, and if you feel something is keeping you back that you cannot overcome then you just need to get over it. This is a world of double standards where rules or principles are unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups. Some people will get ahead of you because they are in a different class, because they know influential people or because they are simply good looking – and that doesn’t get talked about very often but it’s true. If you support the wrong football team in Scotland it won’t just keep you back, it’ll possibly even get you a kicking. That’s reality. You can’t do shit about it so let it go. Instead of getting bogged down in the misery that comes with thinking you are a victim just focus on being better because no matter your background, your skin colour, your culture or whatever if you work harder than everyone else, if you produce better work than everyone else and if you are focused more and driven more than everyone else you then you will be very difficult to ignore.
My answer is to anyone blaming someone or something else for your failures is: Be better. Don’t be a victim.
“We need to stop playing Privilege or Oppression Olympics because we'll never get anywhere until we find more effective ways of talking through difference. We should be able to say, “This is my truth,” and have that truth stand without a hundred clamouring voices shouting, giving the impression that multiple truths cannot coexist.”
Roxane Gay Unquote
Character, not circumstance, makes the person. I urge you not to become participants in the Oppression Olympics. Just do your own thing and drive forward to achieve your goals. Victim mentality is learned behaviour. It's something you learn in a social environment, but you have the power to overcome it. It takes courage to speak against the woke brigade but it’s easy to step out of it and have your own thoughts. It’s easy to take control of your life rather than coasting along. Taking action is the sure-fire best first step to beating victimhood.
Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that he had a dream that his four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” and I believe that he wished that for all of us. Please let the content of your character represent you, not some faceless victim narrative.
Your call to action today is to raise the antennae you have inside you that help you to differentiate truth from hustle – and to keep scanning for oppression and victim hustlers and tag them when they pop up. Recognizing that you are perhaps blindly following someone just to reinforce your feelings of oppression and victim-hood is a good start to getting yourself out of there.
Remember the words of Dean Koontz But victim hood was seductive, a release from responsibility and caring. Fear would be transmuted into weary resignation; failure would no longer generate guilt but, instead, would spawn a comforting self-pity. Don’t let that quote represent you. Take control. Use your higher level of thinking to raise you up from the prison of victim mentality.
One thing I will add at this point was touched upon in my bullying episode in was it season 4? You should be aware that your head space can become so tainted by victim mentality that you can become the oppressor yourself if you are not careful. Playing the victim is the fabrication or exaggeration of victim hood for a variety of reasons such as to justify abuse of others, to manipulate others, a coping strategy, attention seeking or diffusion of responsibility. Manipulators often play the victim role by portraying themselves as victims of circumstances or someone else's behavior in order to gain pity or sympathy or to evoke compassion and thereby get something from someone. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering, and the manipulator often finds it easy and rewarding to play on sympathy to get cooperation. Portraying oneself as a victim can be highly successful in obtaining goals over the short-term, this method tends to be less successful over time:
Wikipedia points out that a Victims’ talent for high drama draws people to them like moths to a flame. Their permanent dire state brings out the altruistic motives in others. It is difficult to ignore constant cries for help. In most instances, however, the help given is of short duration. And like moths in a flame, helpers quickly get burned; nothing seems to work to alleviate the victims’ miserable situation; there is no movement for the better. Any efforts rescuers make are ignored, belittled, or met with hostility. No wonder that the rescuers become increasingly frustrated.
I think that’s a point well-made but remember too, the words of Lisa Simpson, daughter of Homer and Marge.
“If you can get someone fired for expressing their opinion, you’re not the oppressed. You’re the oppressor.”
Next week’s episode is about regaining balance in your life and it’s called Hungry Angry Lonely Tired. It’ll be much shorter than this one but it’s a useful lesson!
I’ll finish today with some words from Harvey Fierstein
Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.
Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!
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