How to overcome your victim complex

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It's easy for her, she's from a wealthy family!

It's alright for him, he knows all the right people!

It's not my fault that I got dealt all the bad cards.

Yeah, it's hard for me as I don't get the help that everyone else does.

Well, I'm just not talented, so I'll never be as good as her.

I'll never be successful as I don't have the qualifications.

I'll never loose weight as I have bad genes and have always been this way.

It's not my fault that I have no confidence as I was bullied at school.

I'm not good looking enough for…


Do any of those sentences ring true for you? How did you feel when you read them? Empowered and motivated? I doubt it!

Do you live your life as a victim?

I'm sure that everyone has gotten themselves into a victim funk at times. The question is, is this your every day reality? Is it part of your identity? 

This is a subject particularly close to my heart because;

1) It destroyed my brother – all of his self-confidence, aspirations, talents… and eventually contributed to his accidental death in 2005.

2) I used to live in this space.

My dear brother.

Throughout his life, my dear brother, Tomek, used to believe that I was the lucky one; I was the clever and talented one. He was brilliantly creative, but stopped drawing when he decided that he'd never be as good as me. This was a pattern he repeated in all areas of his life. There was always a reason why he wasn't able to get good grades at school, hold down a job, live the life that he wanted. The thing is, Tomek was not only one of the most visually creative people I've ever know, he was also tall, handsome, charming, funny and quick to learn. He really loved and cared for others; always keen to protect and defend the underdog (even if they were in the wrong). The truth is, my brother was a man that could have achieved anything in his life, if only he had believed in himself. It is both painful and sad for me that he'll never have the opportunity to learn this.

Up until my late 20s I was also a victim.

It's true; I quite enjoyed recounting the tragedies and difficulties in my life and getting sympathy from others. These validated me and made me feel significant. When I first met someone I would very quickly go into the elaborate story of how I'd lost my dad at the age of 17 and then later how I also lost my brother when he was only 24. I was always able to build up my victim story to make it increasingly more grand, tragic and impressive. "Wow! You've been through so much!" they used to say, "You're so strong!" When actually, all I was doing is hiding behind stories rather than creating something else I could really be proud of. There came a point when someone close to me flagged this up. At first, I was defensive. Then, embarrassed. Then, I consciously stopped.

Amazed and humbled.

laurence ClarkOn Sunday evening I went to see stand up comedy at The Curve in Leicester and was totally amazed when in the second half Laurence Clark drove onto the stage in his electric wheelchair. Laurence is not only wheelchair bound, but has difficulty controlling his movements and his speech; he has cerebral palsy. What amazed me most of all is that Laurence was genuinely brilliant, making very funny jokes about his condition and unique experiences. He absolutely deserved to be on the stage and was, in fact, funnier and more original than many of the other comedians featured that night. And yet, how the hell did he, a disabled man with a speech impediment, develop the guts to perform stand-up in front of a 1000 people? Would you have taken him seriously if he had come to you with that idea?

I believe that Laurence was driven to overcome all the hurdles and barriers through his conviction and love of his matière. I'm totally convinced that he had knock backs, but he pushed through, practised and got really good at what he wanted to do. That's pretty inspiring, don't you think?

Other heros of mine, such as JK Rowling, Eddie Izzard and Oprah Winfrey (to name but a few) have all had to fight to get to where they are; they all had it really tough and none of them were handed their success on a plate. I believe that it's that fight, conviction and resolution to never give up that made them the icons that they are today. They really inspire me and drive me to work hard every day on what I'm doing.

So, how do you get out of your victim complex and become an achiever? 

1. Cultivate a conviction and passion. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, whether it's lose weight, run a marathon, be successful in your work or develop a beautiful, romantic relationship, you need to deeply cultivate the belief that what you're doing is an absolute must for you and then work at it, study it, pursue it and live it every day. Make it who you are.

2. Detox your language. Listen to how you describe yourself to others, how you speak to yourself. If you use words like "I can't", "I'm not good enough", "I don't know enough…", "I don't have the…" flip them to the opposite: "I can", "I'm good enough", "I know enough", "I have everything I need". You may not believe these words initially, but that doesn't matter. Eventually they will seep into your subconscious and will become a part of you. 

3. Keep a gratitude journal. This is one of the most powerful tools that I use in my coaching practice. It's ridiculously simple and easy, too: get yourself a book where every evening before you go to sleep you write at least 10 things you're grateful for from the day, however small or insignificant they may seem. You'll develop a positive mindset and learn to appreciate all of the positive opportunities that come your way. 

4. Surround yourself with uplifting, positive and supportive people. There will always be people that will bring you down – they're not being mean, they just don't want to feel bad themselves. If they're willing to share the journey with you, bring them on board. If not, perhaps you need to keep them at an arms length. Or maybe stop spending time with them altogether. Find people that lift you up and make you a better person. Spend time with those who inspire you and motivate you. You'll find everything a lot easier, I guarantee you!

5. Get professional support. This may seem like another opportunity for me to promote myself, but this is a lesson that I have personally had to learn, the hard way. When I set up my coaching business I didn't have a clue about what I was doing. I wasted about 8 or 9 months working really hard and not really making much headway. It was only when I completely ran out of money and was desperate to change something that I hired a business coach and that's when things really took off for me. Now I regularly invest in professional support for all sorts of areas of my life where I get stuck. Having someone with knowledge, experience and the right questions to guide you makes life considerably easier.

If you'd like to explore how I can support you to get out of your victim funk or any other distructive mindset, please get in touch via email or book in a complimentary session.

Do you live as a victim of circumstance? Did you find this article useful? Please share your view below. 

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Ania NowickiHow to overcome your victim complex

Comments 4

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  1. Alex

    A wonderful post, Ania, thank you.  So applicable to so many people, and especially touching given your own story.  Lots of lesssons here!

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