The Victim of Art

Victims of Art

Whenever we put ourselves on a public stage for other’s to see, we open ourselves up to praise, indifference, and criticism. It’s true for a music performance, a gallery exhibition, or even here on YouTube.

It’s very easy for people to come, observe, and express their opinions. Most people simply take it all in and walk away without much of a word. Other’s will take the time and express their thoughts and what they took away from it. 

And then there are those who lend their deeper impressions and insights. This is all normal and to be expected.

Yet, there are still others who have an unrestrained need to present a more intense, critical point of view. Their unsolicited opinions are typically negative and attempt to challenge, correct, expose, or undermine our efforts.


Their feedback is designed to make us react. To make us defensive, question ourselves or our abilities, or make us feel small.


BUT WHY

Why do some people draw the negative from what should be a positive, creative effort?


For years, we’ve seen people get paid extremely well for their critiques on music, movies, food, and fashion. The difference with them is that they are usually educated and have a unique insight in their field.


But, when it comes to the lay-person, like you and I, one has to ask the same question: Why do some people draw the negative from what should be a positive, creative effort?


While the truth may not be clear, there might be some surface reasons:

• Maybe to make them feel better about themselves or their own work?

• Maybe to undermine the efforts of others for some personal agenda?

• Or, maybe to prove they are right or know more than others?


I’ve worked with a lot of skilled designers in my career, but, one stands out more than others. This was a mediocre designer, at best, always sarcastic and cynical. In our team meetings, they would throw co-workers under the bus, pointing out their flaws and tell them how to fix their work. No one valued their feedback and our manager would just roll her eyes. Of course, if anyone critiqued their work, they’d get defensive and dismiss anything constructive. Their negative attitude and churlish demeanor affected everyone. One day, after an argument with someone in marketing, our manager fired them. They went on social media and told everyone they had quit, that our company was a joke, and we were all bad designers.


From their perspective – they were the victim.


In professional art and design, there’s no room to take criticism personally.

There’s also no room to linger on praise, either. You’re only as good as your last piece or your last campaign.


So, for a co-worker to throw others under the bus, for no good reason, it showed me how some people embrace negativity to elevate themselves, just like other people elevate themselves, too, through positive efforts.


I also learned there are ways to take negative, harsh criticism without letting it get to me. To look at where it was coming from, not to engage the intent, and respond respectfully and professionally.


I taught myself to eliminate three words from my professional vocabulary: THINK, BELIEVE, & FEEL.


While these words are still viable, eliminating them removes the emotional content from a discussion and stick to the facts.


Someone saying, “I think the colors are too bright” is a subjective opinion. 

Or, “I believe the concept has already been done before” is an assumption. 

And “I feel the logo doesn’t express our brand the way we want” is an emotional response.


By eliminating THINK, BELIEVE, and FEEL, we get statements of fact, based on our knowledge or experience: 

  • “The colors ARE too bright.”
  • “The concept HAS already been done before.”
  • And, “The logo DOESN’T represent our brand.”


Something else I taught myself, is replacing a PERIOD in a sentence with a QUESTION MARK. This changes a closed-ended statement into an open-ended discussion.


Saying, “The colors are too bright” might yield a defensive response of, “No, they’re not. They’re fine!”


By presenting the statement as a question, it opens the dialogue up for further exploration: “Are the colors too bright TO YOU?” is a softer way of suggesting OUR opinion, while posing it as a question.


Of course, simply respectfully acknowledging the opinions and decisions of others is always the best way to go.


Whether we’re professionals or friendly observers, it’s important not allow negative feedback to minimize positive feedback.


What’s also important is to be able to cherry-pick the useable truth from negative feedback. To recognize it and leverage it for our benefit.


Recently, someone posted a comment to one of my videos. And while I get feedback from lots of people – just like I post feedback for other people - it’s usually very positive and supportive. But, sometimes people can be pretty negative.

This viewer began with positive feedback, but quickly turned negative, writing:


“I really like your videos and you draw really good but you can be condescending to people who aren’t so lucky to be born good at drawing and get a job doing art and make a lot of money to buy things they want so easy as you. I think you don’t know how lucky you are. Maybe you should so you know how hard it is for other people!”


I could’ve just dismissed the comment and moved on, but for me, I chose to examine the words. Here’s what I found:


  • first, this viewer seems to like my videos
  • AND seems to like my artwork
  • BUT,  feels like I’m being condescending
  • AND believes I make a lot of money
  • AND thinks things come easy for me because I was born lucky.


After looking into the words, I see how things went sour, which is hard to respond to. The only thing, to me, worth taking away is that someone felt I was being condescending. No one’s ever called me that before, so I’m not sure where it comes from.


It’s kind of like being called a bad driver by a bad driver.


The misconceptions of how hard I work, that I’m born lucky, or how much money I make nothing but assumptions. It’s all based on how the viewer relates how hard they works, how lucky they are, and how much they make.


In the end, I chose not to engage, because it’s unlikely that anything I saw will change the viewer’s point of view.


Another viewer used BLAME to rationalize why they would never be successful with their art. He wrote:


“I got an art degree 20 years ago but when my wife got pregnant, I had to give up my dream of being an artist and get a real job to support my family. My kids are older and I’m going to turn one of the bedrooms into a studio and try getting back into art, even though I’ll never make a living from it.”


Looking closely at the words, I gathered some interesting facts:

  • The viewer feels they had to give up their dream of being an artist.
  • believes a job in art is not a real job.
  • thinks they’ll never make a living from their art.


Breaking it down, it was clear the viewer saw themselves as a victim, blaming their wife and kids for not being able to pursue their dream. Again, there wasn’t much I could respond with, beyond “Good luck.”


These are examples of The Victim Mentality, a negative personality trait found in many fields, including art.


Everyone is born into a range of circumstances – from poverty to privilege, good health to chronic challenges. But, no one is BORN feeling victimized. That’s a learned trait which develops from childhood. From my understanding, it starts at an early age from negative experiences, neglect, over-indulgence, and even abuse.


As a disclaimer, I do not have a background in psychology or any medical field, so my perspective on this topic comes from personal observation and professional experience spanning over 30 years, and the ways I’ve found to understand and manage it.


We all come across this Victim Mentality and often, we’re not even aware. Yet, it can affect us in different ways, especially over long periods of time.


And that’s today’s discussion – how to recognize this Victim Mentality, particularly with art and ways to keep it from dragging us down and interfering with our creative spirit.


We go through life meeting all kinds of unique personality types. Most are familiar and share the same basic, day-to-day experiences. Yet, there are those personalities we encounter that not only impact us, but may deeply affect us.


POSITIVE personality types are people who brighten our day or uplift us with compliments, by being helpful, or with a kind gesture.


When someone lets you go in traffic, hands you something you dropped, or even a smile in the hallway at work or school. For me, positive types influence my whole day, so that I find myself paying it forward to others.


I relish those encounters, but I’m also well aware that Nature has a way of keeping things in check. With every Yang, there must be a Yin to counterbalance it. 


And that’s the NEGATIVE personality type. People who bring us down with criticism, being unhelpful, or with unkind gestures.


When someone cuts us off in traffic, steps OVER something you dropped, or let’s the door close on us at work or school. And the same holds true – we can actually pay that negative influence forward to other people, too! 


We all have days when things go right for us AND when things go wrong. 

Sometimes we take it out on other people. It’s normal and happens to everyone.


However, with a Victim type, it can be tricky to navigate. When we’re drawn toward negativity or being a victim, it can draw others into it, as well, and even feed it.


And like I said, from what I’ve learned about personality traits, the Victim trait is usually one that’s learned at an early age.


I’ve read studies that show how positive interaction, music, and art can boost a child’s cognitive skills. Yet, neglect, anger, and abuse can impede cognitive skills and contribute to dysfunctional coping methods at an early age.


This Victim Mentality tends to see the good things that happens for others as the reason for the bad things that happens for them. Even if there’s evidence to the contrary.


The word, VICTIM, itself, means one who is harmed, tricked, or slighted in some way. Yet, another word – VICTOR (as in victory) means one who defeats an opponent, wins an event, or overcomes obstacles.


So, while the Victim type draws negative connotations, the Victor type draws positives. And, I should note, this is about a personality type – not someone who is a victim of a crime or accident.


The Victim type sees the things and people around them as having a direct impact on their success, relationships, or happiness. They usually feel they are subjected to bad luck, mistreatment, or missed opportunities through no fault of their own.


Some Victim types aren’t even aware they are Victim types. They believe, in their hearts, that they are positive. For them, it can be extremely difficult to identify what’s holding them back. Some never do.


And for Positive types, they can easily be drawn into the Victim type’s drama, negative thinking, or blame. It can drag them down and drain their creative energy.


It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of a Victim type when they enter our lives, so we can avoid or work with-or-around them. AND to recognize the signs, within ourselves, so we can catch them, move past, and present the best of ourselves and enjoy the success and happiness we truly deserve.


Here are some common Victim types that I’ve come across in my own experiences, and the signs I usually look for:


1. The CYNIC

This is the type of victim that only sees people as self-serving, no matter how generous they seem.


The Cynic questions the sincerity of others and is suspicious of ulterior motives.


So, when good things happen for other people, the Cynic usually scoffs or condemns them. If an actor gets a role because they may know the producer, the Cynic claims it was favoritism. If a designer gets a job at the company where her brother works at, the Cynic will say it was nepotism.


And sure, there may be truth in those claims, but the Cynic dismisses any real qualifications which those people possess to actually HOLD the job…all the years spent studying acting or all the experience of being a professional designer.


To the Cynic, it becomes personal and justifies the reasons why THEY didn’t get the job. It feeds the Victim Mentality by seeing something positive, like generosity, good fortune, or hard work, as being negative.


There will always be situations where people get ahead because of someone they know. But to the Cynic, it happens in ALL situations.



2. MISERY ENJOYS COMPANY

You’ve probably heard the old phrase, “birds of a feather flock together.”


This refers to like-minded people that gather together with shared interests or goals. It’s true for both positive AND negative people.


I learned about this working in a small coffee shop back in art school.


Lots of people would come in, gab their coffee or snacks, and hang out.

I got to hear all the gossip and goings-on while I worked, cleaning tables, and serving food.


I noticed, though, that outside the regular crowd, two distinct groups would come in, day after day.


The first was an upbeat, positive group always laughing and joking, talking about their projects, and what was going on in the world. They were uplifting and fun, and always left with a happy spirit.


The second was a brooding group that would sit in the corner, complain about their projects and commiserate about world events. They were somewhat depressing and always left with a heavy spirit.


One shared a positive support system, promoting success and finding solutions.

The other shared a negative support system, lingering on apathy and identifying problems.


The term “misery enjoys company” refers to people who are suffering taking comfort knowing that those around them are suffering, too.


3. The GLASS IS HALF-EMPTY

Years ago, I took a job as the Lead Designer for a small import company.


Before I started the job, I studied their marketing materials to see what areas could be improved. On my first day, I met with my new creative team and learned they’d been using the same materials for years. I presented my plan to develop fresh, new concepts to revive the company’s marketing image. After all, that’s why they hired me.


Well, my new team squirmed in their seats and looked around at each other.

They didn’t like the idea of creating a whole new body of work. They were comfortable using the same old designs, year after year, and weren’t interested in changed.


One designer spoke up and said, “Those have all been approved by legal! If we redo them, we’re going to get them approved, all over again!” Another said, “We’ve tried to make changes, but marketing won’t let us. They’ve been using these for years and they work! We don’t need to change them.”


But then, another asked, “So, what do you mean by ‘fresh, new concepts?’” 


I realized that two of the designers were stuck in the proverbial “glass half-empty” way of thinking. They were afraid. One was afraid of wasting time creating all new work, only to be shot down by legal. The other was convinced that marketing would never go for new work and that there was no need to change.


Yet, the one who asked what I meant about “fresh, new concepts,” saw that there was room to grow. She saw the glass as being HALF-FULL and wanted to know more. She wanted to FILL that glass with fresh ideas, and she was excited by the prospect of new possibilities.


Well, once we got to work and began developing new ideas, I was able to win marketing over.


I promoted the designer who asked what I meant about new concepts,

and she produced some of our best, new marketing materials.


Later, when I decided to leave the company for another job, she was promoted to Lead Designer, and we’re still friends, even today.


When we see a glass as HALF-EMPTY, we only see what’s missing, and not the existing possibilities or opportunities. Seeing a glass as HALF-FULL, we can tap into what’s there, and expand on it – adding to what already exists.


Personally, I like the idea of a completely EMPTY glass, which for me, is actually full of potential and the opportunity to create something new from scratch! 


4. THE WORLD IS AGAINST ME

Growing up, Hollywood taught us that all we needed to succeed and be happy in life was a DREAM.


Well, it didn’t take long to figure out that was nonsense and that it takes SO much more to be successful. Skill, patience, perseverance, and a ton of hard work.


That opportunities don’t just present themselves – we have to hunt for them.


I always taught that you can’t find opportunities on the front lawn – you have to look under rocks. The heavier the rocks – the more likely you are to find them.


For some people, it seems like the world is working FOR them and life comes easy.

Money, good looks, and success – everything seems like it’s just handed right to them.


But, for people like you and me, the world STILL offers opportunities, it just takes a lot of effort, sacrifice, and fortitude to succeed.


Yet, there are people who never seem to get ahead. Some believe the myth that opportunities will just come to them, with minimal effort on their part. Others work as hard as anyone else, yet the world just seems to always work against them.


And when you feel like the world is against you – you eventually just want to give up and stop trying. I mean, what’s the point, right?


It’s the reason why so many people fall away from their passions and abandon their dreams of being an actress, a painter or writer, or the next guitar hero jamming around the world.


The thinking is that no matter how hard I try – the world is against me. That no matter how much work I put into something – I never get ahead. And despite how much I want it – no one wants my work.


This can lead to all kinds of catastrophic, negative thinking, like defeatism, envy, apathy, and fear, or creating severe conditions such as anxiety or depression, which unfortunately, put us even further away from our dreams and success.


And, it can also lead into…


5. THE BLAME GAME

Going back in time, I’m sure someone blamed the first cave painter for being a graffiti artist and making a mess on their cave wall.


And in religion, who do we blame for Adam & Eve being kicked out of the Garden of Eden? And who was to blame for breaking the elephant tusk off Ganesha, the Hindu god of wisdom, success, and good fortune? And in Buddhism, well, nobody goes forward without blame.


For me, I worked hard to teach my young children not to blame others for things they did wrong. It worked well, and now that they’re older, I’m proud that they take ownership of their decisions.


With art, it’s easy for people to place blame when things don’t work out.

It’s the art teacher’s fault for not showing us the right way to draw;

It’s the website’s fault for not posting the correct information about a show.

And it’s the YouTuber’s fault for recommending expensive products we ended up not liking.


There’s lots of ways blame plays into the arts.


One job I worked at, I put in 14-hour days hoping to be recognized for a anagement promotion in my department. I had seniority and my boss was grooming me for the position.


Then, one day our company announced layoffs. Our department was safe, but other’s were not. My boss had a friend in another department who was slated to be laid off. In an act of kindness, she saved her friend from being let go and brought her onto our team. The problem was, she gave her the management position I was being groomed for.


I was pretty upset and I couldn’t help casting blame:

  • I blamed my boss for hiring her friend over me
  • I blamed her friend for being unqualified and undeserving of the role
  • And I blamed the company for allowing my boss to hire someone unqualified for the role.


I was embarrassed because my peers knew what happened. I was angry because it meant both an advancement AND a pay increase were now out of reach. And I was hurt because I felt betrayed by my boss.


Before I had time to rationalize and accept the situation, my boss added insult to the injury. She told me that training her friend was now my job and all my projects would now be under her.


I went home and immediately looked for a new job. Fortunately, I got one quickly, but needed to start right away.


So, I gave only a few day’s notice to my boss. She was furious that I gave her short notice, blaming me that my decision to leave would severely impact the team’s workflow.


I was sad to leave the company and the friends I had made, but for me, I couldn’t stay in a place that didn’t recognize my abilities. It was a good decision and I have no regrets.


However, I wonder how many people experience the same kind of situations, being victims of BLAME without being able to resolve it.


Whether it’s an artist, blaming the quality of their tools for their own lack of skills, 

or a musician who blames the rest of the band when they’re out of tune.


Blame is an excellent way to defend ourselves and our abilities when we feel like we’re being questioned or under attack. It’s also a great way to get out of doing extra work, getting in trouble, or being the target for negative attention.


So, the next time one of my kids tracks mud across the kitchen floor, yet no one accepts responsibility, I guess we’ll just have to blame the shoes that apparently are walking through the house, on their own.



6. EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES

I’ve heard it over and over, in both my career and in my personal life:

  • I want to learn how to draw, but I just don’t have the time.
  • I want to play the guitar, but my fingers are too big.
  • I want to exercise, but it’s not possible with my medical condition.


There are a million-two excuses for why we can’t do things we WANT to do, but don’t.  As I’ve said before, a discussion ends with a period, but opens with a question mark.


We just have to change those statements into questions:

  • HOW do I find the time to learn to draw?
  • HOW can I work my fingers to play the guitar?
  • HOW can I exercise despite a medical condition?


Removing the mental limitation of what we CAN’T do, allows us to identity exactly what we CAN do.


I had a college student who missed every other class. She’s come unprepared and never finished her assignments. Funny, but she always had plenty of excuses: car broke down, forgot her supplies at home, felt sick and couldn’t make it.


On the last class before Summer, she came in with her final presentation, like everyone else. I was surprised because she’d missed so much – I was suspicious of what her work would be like.


When she presented it, I was impressed! It was really, really good. Except… it wasn’t hers.


I asked her to stay after class when I confronted her about her project.


She swore up and down that it was her work and she worked all week on it.

The problem was that the drawing she had presented was in an obscure History of Illustration book I had at home. When I told her, you could see the tears fill in her eyes and her face turn red.


She began to cry and and blather, spouting all kinds of excuses that I wasn’t expecting. She was in a bad relationship, she just moved in with her parents, she lost her job, and so on.


To be honest, I would have felt bad for her if she had been a really good student, but she wasn’t. I could tell that this was standard protocol for her and it was probably how she went through life. Excuses, Excuses.


In the years I taught college courses, she was the only student I ever failed.


Now, don’t get me wrong – there are always valid excuses for why we can’t do things, but for me, these are REASONS, not excuses. And to me, there’s a big difference. It’s when we use them as a crutch for why we AREN’T doing something we should or can, that’s when it plays into the victim mentality.


Several years ago, I underwent brain surgery – and it changed my life dramatically.

But, I try hard to never let that be an excuse for why I can’t do something.

Except, in certain situations – it’s the whole REASON why I can’t do something.


For example, I used to be an avid snowboarder. But, after my surgery, I stopped because the risk of falling and injuring my head was too great. The problem was, my friends would invited to go on a ski weekend, and I’d always say no.

It took a good friend of mine to say, “Hey, I know you don’t board anymore, but come anyway!” “You can bring your art stuff, drink hot chocolate, and relax in the lodge! And after, we’ll all hang out together!”


He was absolutely right and I’ve been going up to the mountains ever since – no excuses and always glad I go!


7. MOUNTAINS OUT OF A MOLE HILLS

Children love catching each children making mistakes or doing something wrong.

They blow it out of proportion, like the world is coming to an end.


“Mommy! Daddy! Sam got ice cream ALL OVER the sofa!”


They “make a mountain out of a mole hill” to create more drama than is necessary, to get a bigger reaction. And that reaction usually gets more attention – especially for the kid who spilled the ice cream who’s now in BIG trouble!


But, while most kids grow out of this behavior, it can become a powerful tool for the vicim type.


At home, school, or in the office, some people get satisfaction in calling out the mistakes of others. And like a child, they blow them out of proportion to get attention.


One woman I worked with was like this. She spent a ridiculous amount of time actually looking for mistakes. And when she’d find one, she’d send an email to everyone, demanding to know who made the error and why, stirring up our whole department.


In reality, we’re all human and prone to making mistakes here and there. So, when someone does make repeated mistakes, it’s important to look into it, in order to correct the problem.


But, this woman took it to a new level; she was HUNTING for mistakes, and jumped on the smallest infraction made by the most astute artists.


I finally had enough and sent her an email, suggesting that in the future, she waste less time being a SLEUTH, looking for mistakes and trying 

to expose the people who made them, and spend more productive time into simply fixing the mistakes and moving on.


She didn’t like my response and stormed around the office, barking about how important it was to flag mistakes and keep them from happening again! Fortunately, the owner of the company got involved, and sent us an email saying, “Just do what Mark said and fix the mistakes, please.”


“Making a mountain out of a mole hill” is the way the victim type elevates themselves above others, exploiting people’s flaws and weaknesses, 

and making themselves seem justified in their role, and more important or impressive than they actually are.


8. IT’S ALL ABOUT ME

In single-point perspective drawing, lines recede back to a single vanishing point.


With the “all about me” Victim type, single-point perspective is when all focus and attention – negative or positive – goes to a single person. It’s the inability to recognize the efforts or roles of other people, and focus solely on our own efforts or roles as being most important.


By making a situation “all about me,” we end up pushing other’s away, drawing resentment, and creating unnecessary drama around us. Most Victim types that embrace this perspective are, more often than not, unaware that they’re doing it.


They see themselves as being team players, yet dominate conversation and turn the attention back to being about them or their work. If they’re interrupted during a normal conversation, they’ll wait anxiously for a pause, when they pick right back up where they left off.


The “it’s all about me” type becomes a victim when the focus on them suddenly shifts away and onto someone or something else. Often times, they’ll do whatever they can to make the situation about them, again. You might see them laugh to loud, become agitated, become critical, or even become hostile when other’s don’t bring that single-point perspective to meet their need for attention.


I played in a band for a short time, where our drummer would make things “all about him.” When he would make mistakes or couldn’t remember his parts, he would become agitated and complain the we were all off.


When people would fixate on our lead guitarist, and tell him how great he is, our drummer would say things to undermine him, like, “yeah, tonight he was good – but you should’ve heard him LAST week!” 


No matter whether we were playing or just hanging out after practice, he would always make the situation about him. And whenever it veered away, he would make a stink to ensure it came back to him, for better or for worse.


9. IT’S NOT FAIR!

As kids, we’re taught to SHARE, BE NICE, and PLAY FAIR, which is how we get them to work cooperatively, communicate positively, and recognize honesty and civility.


But, kids learn quickly that when they DO share, a lot of times other kids don’t share back. That when they play nice with others, there are always kids who DON’T PLAY NICE and who are actually mean. And when kids play fair and by the rules, they see other kids who don’t play fair get rewards, while they get nothing.


That’s when kids start the familiar cry, “It’s not fair!”


And what’s ironic, is that over time, adults change their tune and teach them, “you need to learn – life’s not fair!” It’s really confusing!


But, they see it in the classroom, too: 

  • some kids get privileges while other’s don’t.
  • some kids wear expensive clothes while other’s wear hand-me downs.
  • and they see celebrities, politicians, and pro-athletes lie and cheat and not get punished.


At a certain age, most kids DO catch on that life isn’t always fair. But, there are some that don’t. Whether it’s because of coddling or sheltering, over-indulging, or just plain ignorance – some kids begin to rely on “it’s not fair” to get their way with adults who will “equalize” or balance things out to be FAIR.


We’ve seen the term “participation trophy” go from being a positive reinforcement tool for kids who feel left out or unrecognized, to becoming a negative connotation to rewards kids who didn’t fully earn praise or accolades.


The downside is that when someone claims, “it’s not FAIR!,” and demands everyone gets equal acknowledgement, it minimizes the efforts of those who DID earn acknowledgement, legitimately, through hard work and effort, putting everyone at vastly different skills on the same level.


In the real world, especially in the creative fields, it can be difficult for less skilled artists to accept that their work is simply not as good as other people’s. No one wants to experience this, but it’s a reality. 


It doesn’t mean that the less skilled artist’s work isn’t good or deserving of praise, it just means that by accepting that the level of work WE do, it will ALWAYS have other work on either side of it – one that’s BETTER than ours and one that’s not as good as ours.


Understanding this may help keep those who feel slighted or unrewarded from grabbing onto the phrase, “it’s not fair.” These days, it seems a bit too common. “It’s not fair” can also appear as “Why not me?” or “How come they?” 


It’s a way of thinking where the victim type measures the good fortune of others against the lack of good fortune, for themselves. Artists can be particularly susceptible to the “why not me” or the “how come they,” when it comes to the success of other artists.


When two artists enter the same local show and one is chosen over the other, it draws the comment, “Why not me?” Which has the same impact as, “it’s not fair.” And it happens in writing, music, athletics, and even in the corporate world.


Finally, 


10. THE ONE-UPPER

This might be the most annoying victim type. They can’t resist the opportunity to OUT-DO any story they hear. They are also known as conversation hijackers, braggarts, attention seekers, and name-droppers.


Their typical MO is to boast, brag, or tell stories to elevate their status among those around them. The result, for them, is to try and dispel any notion that they are boring, insignificant, or inexperienced.


One can assume there is some level of low-self image going on, that draws a need to be bigger, better, or more valuable than anyone else.


By exaggerating stories, taking over conversations, and out-doing anything anyone else presents, they reveal themselves as being obnoxious, unrestrained, or trying too hard to impress others.


And usually, people see right through it.


But, for the one-upper, it’s a volleyball game, so that no matter what you put out there, they’ll send it back bigger and better, even if it’s completely false or ridiculous.


The worst thing we can do when dealing with a one-upper is to NOT get caught up in the volley and try to one-up THEM.


The best thing to do, is let them have their moment, be amazed, and as I say, “let the baby have their bottle.”


Because challenging a one-upper will only lead to truly negative results.


So, in looking at a few Victim types, do you recognize any? Is there someone that you know that these could apply to? Or maybe, if we’re honest, these could apply to us!


But, what I wanted to know, and the reason for this discussion, is why would anyone want or choose to be a victim? In my opinion, I don’t think anyone really chooses to be a victim, I think there are reasons behind it.


Being a victim:

  • Let’s us get what we want by playing off the reactions of others.
  • Allows us to complain, which is like venting – and venting is supposed to be healthy.
  • We can use deep sighing to get bait other’s into asking, “what’s wrong” or “are you okay?”
  • We can get out of obligations by saying, “I can’t” or “I don’t know how.”
  • Gives us a great excuse to do low quality work or no work at all.
  • Let’s us blame others for our own shortcomings.
  • Provides a way to elevate ourselves over other people.


At some point, everyone feels victimized. Whether we’re taken advantage of, ignored, or insulted. Being a victim type, we feel empowered, when we have no power. And we can establish a position, for ourselves, where we had no prior status.


But, when that mentality becomes routine behavior, it’s like relying on a crutch to walk. And life starts to happen TO us, making it difficult to control situations or their outcomes. We see the world and people around us as luckier than we are and that life is unfair.


As I said at the outset, I’m not professional in this field, I just know from the research I’ve done and from the experiences in my own life, both personal and professional.


I don’t know what the root causes are, whether poor self-image, low self-esteem, or even a medical condition.


But, being able to recognize the victim type in others can be subtle and even tricky. The 10 types I described, here, may make it easier to identify and understand.


Still, if we find that we actually relate to these 10 types or that we drift toward being a victim type, there are a few good ways to steer out of it and maintain a positive course.


1. If the problem is serious or chronic, it’s always best to seek professional medical advice. After brain surgery, my neurologist recommended that I meet with a therapist to check in with, identify where I was at, and ensure I was on-task with my recovery and feeling good about life. I can’t recommend personal therapy, enough!


2. Check out meditation or yoga. Another doctor suggested I try yoga, but it wasn’t for me. However, he also suggested meditation which I really took to and continue to do as part of my daily routine. It helps me regulate my breathing, circulation, and sort out my thinking to clear stuff away that I don’t need in my day.


3. Keeping a journal of victim moments. When situations come up and we say, “it’s not fair!” or we “make a mountain out of a mole hill,” we can easily send a text or email to ourselves and be completely honest about what happened and why.


We can track these incidents by keeping a journal, using our phone calendar or notes app, so that we might be able to recognize when we experience them, and maybe curb them in the future.


4. Create Two Lists: One list is for things that trigger us, bother us, or get under our skin. The other shows how we can remedy them. For example, “I hate when Joe at work high fives everyone and says, ‘great job, dude!’ He’s such a phony!” 


A remedy might be to cast a different light on Joe. He might be doing what he does to stay positive, for himself. And if people respond with smiles and high fives, it might be working – and that could be a trigger for our cynicism toward him.


One remedy could be to surprise Joe and offer HIM a high five, and say, “great job, Joe!” with a smile. If it’s done with a sincere, positive intent, I bet it will change the view of Joe a little bit… maybe more tolerable.


5. Plan Your Journey. As far as I know, we get one shot at life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being a bumper car, dizzy and bouncing from obligations at home, or school or work. 


Like when I go on vacation, I like to have a plan so I know what I’m doing, have some wiggle room, and enjoy my time. This is OUR journey, so why not make a plan for it, too? And I’m not talking a grand plan – just one thing. One objective.


“This week, I want to read the graphic novel I bought months ago.”


It’s true. I bought this beautiful graphic novel – my first ever – several months ago and haven’t found time to read it. So, this week, my plan has been to sit for one hour, every day, and read. And I’ll admit – I’m a terrible reader!


I set my phone alarm for 6PM every day, and whatever I’m doing, I’ll put it aside and go somewhere quiet to read. It’s been two days and so far it’s been great!


I’m thinking next week, if the weather’s nice, I might go outside and paint for an hour. Depends how cold it is. But, putting things on hold, like laundry, dinner, or bills, and spending just an hour doing something I enjoy keeps me happy.

And then, I can bring that happiness into doing laundry, dinner, or bills.


Now don’t get me wrong – I fall victim to being a victim type, too. I get annoyed, say “it’s not fair,” and one-up with the best of them! But the key is to recognize when it happens and work toward minimizing it so it’s not a HABIT.


And when it’s against our nature to be happy and positive all the time, that it’s normal and okay. As long as it doesn’t hold us back from what we really want to achieve.


Well, thank you for reading and I hope this was helpful or enjoyable for you.


Iif you’d like more content like this in the future, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, which you can find in the video link, above.


Stay positive and keep on exploring your creative world! Thank you and God bless!


Mark