Victim Mentality: The Mindset That’s Ruining Your Career

Do you find yourself blaming others for your unhappiness? Do you often feel angry at people or events that have wronged you? Do you feel a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness when it comes to your career? Do you find yourself asking, “Why me?” in response to not earning enough income, having an unsupportive boss, or being passed over for the job or promotion you deserve? Are you resentful and passive aggressive in your interactions with others? If any of this describes you, you have a victim mentality.

Our lives don’t turn out exactly the way we think it should all of the time. We’ve all experienced the pain of change being forced upon us by circumstances beyond our control. Regardless of our upbringing, education or family situation, each of us has suffered pain and emotional trauma from life’s experiences that have scarred us in some way. Life has a funny way of presenting curve balls or difficulties from start to finish. Our career journey is no exception. It’s easy to let anger, fear and blame keep us in a dark place when this happens. It doesn’t have to be this way.

From this moment forward, challenge yourself to take advantage of the control you do have in your career. Stop letting circumstances determine how you feel. Stop blaming other people if you don’t have the kind of happiness you think you’ve earned. Instead of focusing on all that is wrong in your life and career, focus instead on the reality of what you do have and find a way to make it work. Our thoughts are more powerful than even the worst possible experience we could ever imagine going through. You may currently find yourself in a horrible workplace situation, but you are not helpless. Although you don’t necessarily choose what happens to you, you do choose your response and outlook. A mindset of blame serves only one purpose – to avoid having to take responsibility for what comes next. However, by being in control of your thoughts, you are able to determine the attitude with which you face the challenges that lay ahead.

If you’ve chosen to go through life with a victim mindset, it has undoubtedly impacted your career in some way. Chances are, you’re not terribly successful. It’s also likely you don’t have a great relationship with all or most of those you work with. How do I know this? Because victims are people who don’t acknowledge responsibility for their actions and instead blame outside forces beyond their control. To be successful in your career or happy in your workplace relationships, you need to have the ability to accept responsibility, learn from your mistakes and make an effort to improve through changing what you do.

As I reflect upon my career as a leadership coach and human resources consultant, one thread of commonality is shared by nearly every disgruntled, under-performing person I’ve had the pleasure of being hired to mentor. They’ve shared a victim mindset fueled by anger and excuses. Those who have continued to be unsuccessful or unhappy have chosen not to let go of their resentment. Instead, they’ve held onto it as an alibi for their lack of action towards bettering their situation through hard effort and a risk of being judged by others. By avoiding action and the discomfort that comes from taking a risk to change, they instead take the familiar “safe” route of staying put and complaining about their situation. They never get better. They never find the happiness they claim they want. They aren’t successful.

Your beliefs will determine your experiences throughout your career. If you remain focused on everything you don’t have, you will continue to attract negative energy and less than impressive achievements. Nothing drives this point better than a quote by famed author and businessman T. Harv Eker who is known for his theories on career success – “When you are complaining, you become a living, breathing crap magnet.”

Are you attracting the kind of experiences you want in your career? If not, it’s time to look in the mirror. Are you more comfortable playing the familiar role of a victim than taking responsibility for your life? You don’t have to live like this anymore. Let go of the pain once and for all. Focus instead on the changes you can make in your thoughts, words, and attitudes to help you maintain a more triumphant approach to your career.

Elizabeth P. Cipolla, SPHR is a business communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, employment branding, professional development and executive coaching for nearly 15 years. Her leadership experience comes from various industries including marketing, mass media, apparel, education, manufacturing, nonprofit agencies and insurance. To contact Elizabeth, email her at or visit her company’s website at