Unraveling the Mindset of Victimhood
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Social life can be full of uncertainty. Friends don't always smile back at you. Strangers sometimes look upset. The question is how you interpret these situations. Do you take everything personally or do you think there are reasons they behave that way that has nothing to do with you?
While most people tend to overcome socially ambiguity with ease, knowing it is unavoidable, other people tend to see themselves as perpetual victims. They believe that one's life is entirely under the control of forces outside one's self.
Researchers found the tendency for interpersonal victimhood consists of four main dimensions:
In interpersonal conflict, all parties are motivated to maintain a positive moral self-image. However, different parties are likely to create very different subjective realities. Offenders tend to downplay the severity of the transgression, and victims tend to perceive the offenders' motivations as immoral.
The mindset one develops - as a victim or a perpetrator - affects the way the situation is perceived and remembered.
Three main cognitive biases characterize the tendency for interpersonal victimhood and contribute to a lack of willingness to forgive others for their perceived wrongdoings.
Researchers found those with a tendency for interpersonal victimhood were most likely to have an anxious attachment style.
Anxiously attached individuals tend to doubt their own social value and seek reassurance continually. They feel dependent on others to validate their self-esteem and worth, and at the same time, they experience complicated negative feelings.
At a group level, a collective victimhood belief can be learned through channels such as education, TV programs, and social media.
If socialization processes can form a victimhood mindset, then the same processes can instil a personal growth mindset in people.
We could learn that we are not entitled but are worthy of being treated as human. We could learn that its possible to grow from trauma and become a better person. We could shed the victimhood mindset for something more productive, constructive, and hopeful to build positive relationships with others.
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