sad faces

Have you heard something like, “It’s better to give someone a hand up than a handout”? Well, contrary to societal opinion, it’s not a mean or cruel statement. It’s wisdom, because it strikes at the heart of human nature.

Sure, there are times to give freely to people in need because we’ve been so blessed. I believe we’re called do so and I bet you do just that.

But, when I put my hand out—feeling entitled, deserving, and play the victim—there are clear consequences:

1. I become lazy

2. I get angry

3. I fail to contribute

4. I don’t serve

5. I stop learning

Let’s look at these briefly.

I become lazy

If I am handed stuff, why sweat, labor, and toil? Even though we were created to create and designed to work, any person given all he or she needs will find the path of doing nothing an easy one to tread. I simply become lazy.

I get angry

When I believe I’m entitled and then don’t get “what I deserve,” my thoughts are, Hey, not fair! and Why would they do this to me!? And because thoughts drive feelings, the output can only be one thing: Now I’m mad! Anger is generally an unhealthy place to be, serving none of us well.

I fail to contribute

There’s not a “motivational speaker” who hasn’t said, “What goes around comes around!” and “To get you must first give!” Well, no matter your view of these sweaty people on the platform, they’re right. It’s just the way the world works. It’s forever true: we reap what we sow. Truly, when my hand is out, I’m not using it, nor my feet, energy, or talent to add value to anyone else’s life. Fail!

I don’t serve

This sounds like contribution, but it comes before. Contribution is the result; service is the act. The act of serving feeds our soul, ignites our spirit, and creates joy—in us. When engaged in victim thinking, there’s about zero chance I’ll be serving and thus contributing to anyone—not even myself.

I stop learning

If I am lost in the forest, have never been a Boy Scout and want to survive, I would have to learn and learn fast! There would be no time for the traps victim thinking leads to: complaining, blaming, and procrastinating. I would work—intensely—to find food, water, and shelter. I may lack the skills, but the desire to learn would envelope me. If you hand me all that I need to make it, I would learn nothing.

So there you go—five consequences of playing victim.

Are there any others? Share below!

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About John G. Miller

John G. Miller is the author of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, Flipping the Switch: Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability, Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional and co-author of Parenting the QBQ Way. He is founder of QBQ, Inc., an organizational development firm based in Colorado dedicated to “Helping Organizations Make Personal Accountability a Core Value.” A 1980 graduate of Cornell University, John has been involved in the training and speaking industry since 1986. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, Karen. They have seven children and three grandchildren.

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19 Responses to “5 Consequences of Victim Thinking”

  1. Eugene Kudrow

    The main consequence I see is it is a self-fulfilling prophecy – if you think like a victim, you become a victim, whether you are or not.

    Just like the lines from two songs:

    It all comes true, it all comes true, like a wheel inside your head that turns on you, what can I say, what can I do, what you believe about yourself, it all comes true,

    or

    I created my own prison.

    Reply
  2. Carlene James

    John much thanks for putting pure truth out there and not worrying about the politically correct minded. Could you send this “inside the beltway”, which is in desperate need of this wisdom and application for our culture?

    Reply
  3. Robert Story

    It’s a common thread through all of what you’ve listed, but the 6th consequence that keeps coming to mind is “I Miss Out”. There is a tremendous ‘opportunity cost’ with victim thinking…and some of life’s opportunities are only offered once.

    Reply
  4. LauraS

    Hello John. Thank you for this reminder! I am currently working with a group of women at church that is putting together a one day seminar on Influence to deliver to other women. Being in that mindset when reading your posting, I was reminded that whatever behavior we choose, in this case victim thinking, we are modeling that behavior to others. This includes our kids, spouses, coworkers, community, etc. We never know how one act can impact others. When I demonstrate victimi thinking, I very possibly am leading someone to justify their own victim thinking. I make it easier to spread victim thinking. What I can do to help others is to ask your good questions!

    Reply
  5. Harry Moats

    I believe another result of this type of thinking is that you lose self-esteem and self-confidence. We try to put the blame somewhere else or on someone else and fail to look in the mirror and ask the QBQ, “What can I do to change the situation?” It becomes a pity party of one. As time goes by we begin to lose confidence in ourselves and just dig the pit deeper and deeper until we can’t climb out.

    Reply
  6. Cindy Rountree

    Victim mentality is a huge cop-out. It is so difficult for some folks to admit they are wrong or made a mistake. It is so much easier to play the blame game. “I was never told….” “No one trained me…” “This is how we always did it…” take out the personal accountability. Stepping up is a difficult feat, at first, but the results are far more rewarding when you take ownership of your situation. Thank you, John Miller, for your insight.

    Reply
  7. Dave Field

    Hi John,

    another problem with victim thinking is that it’s easy for a “pity party” to break out and suddenly you’ve got multiple “victims” consoling each other. Sad to see….

    Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  8. John Milton LaVey

    My Great Grand Uncle once wrote “Do what you will as long as it’s paying off for you. The moment it becomes a liability there’s a problem and the responsibility lies with YOU to come up with a solution.”

    Reply

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