Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Do you have a Survivor or Victim Mentality in Weight Loss and Life?

Survival Word One Way Road Sign Endurance Resilience

The concept of survivor vs. victim mentality was introduced to me in a counseling session, of which I have been going to for postpartum depression recovery. We were discussing a difficult relationship and her advice was invaluable to me—I do plan to blog about dealing with negative relationships soon, but what I find especially intriguing right now is applying this concept to weight loss.

I believe that I have taken on both the survivor and the victim mentality throughout the years. I remember the first time that I met my doctor and I was struggling to lose more weight, having already lost a significant amount, and she told me “you are NOT a failure”. I hadn’t mentioned anything about feeling like a failure, but somehow she had just the right words.

I remember coming home, getting on my recumbent bike and biking my heart out with tears streaming down my face.

I am NOT a failure. I, Alissa, am NOT a failure.

The thought was amazingly freeing and it was a huge turning point for me.

I finally realized that all of the heartbreak I had endured with various people (adults, coaches, and peers) telling me that who I was wasn’t good enough, skinny enough, fast enough, talented enough, pretty enough, outgoing enough—none of that was true.

These were no longer excuses for me to feel like a victim broken by life and like I didn’t measure up—instead, they were experiences that made me stronger, better, and kinder. I was a survivor of these experiences. It doesn’t mean that these experiences were not painful, that they weren’t wrong in so many ways, or that it was even a gift that I went through them. It simply meant that life threw cruelty in my face in so many ways and that I am still standing strong—better for it.

It took me a very long time to get to this place of acceptance and strength. And to this day, I can honestly say that I truly believe that the comments made about me and cruel actions towards me are not a reflection of myself, but a reflection of the inflictor. These were their issues, not mine. I am a survivor.


The word simply invokes strength out of what felt like weakness. It is a shift in mentality that I am finding is a key to happiness.

And so I have been thinking about ways in which I am taking on a victim role in regard to weight loss and my life in general. These are areas of my life that I need to take responsibility for and take action. That doesn’t mean that they are not valid, or that I am silly for feeling a certain way—it simply means that to move forward and to be a survivor, I have to take action. Nobody can do this for me except for me.

  • Victim mentality: I have always felt like I received the short end of the stick in the genetics department. Somehow, I inherited the weight problem.
  • Survivor mentality: I may have been born with a tendency to be overweight, but I can make changes to get my health under control.

  • Victim mentality: I can’t stop eating my emotions because so and so invokes these feelings and makes me upset.
  • Survivor mentality: No one controls my actions except for me. So and so may be unkind, but I am allowing myself to get upset and I am also choosing to eat.

  • Victim mentality: No one likes me as much as they like so and so. They never have and they never will.
  • Survivor mentality: Even if people were cruel in the past, it doesn’t mean that everyone is that way or that it was my fault. If I try to be more friendly, people will probably respond—if they don’t, that’s their problem, not mine.

  • Victim mentality: Everyone else can eat whatever they want whenever they want. If I so much as look at a cookie, I will gain 10 lbs. It’s just not fair.
  • Survivor mentality: Maybe it doesn’t seem fair, but this is the body I have been given and I will only live once. It’s not that I don’t get to eat delicious foods, it’s just that I have set goals that I want to meet and so I must practice moderation. I will be happier having met my goals. The sooner I accept the fact that this is just the way my metabolism is, the sooner I can take steps to move forward.


My examples are kind of “big” issues, but I think it’s easy to have the victim mentality in many shapes and forms. Throughout my journey with PPD, I have learned that my thoughts are incredibly impactful.

Just because we have a victim mentality right now does not mean that we can’t change the way that we think. It’s possible. It takes a lot of mindfulness to identify these thoughts and then change them—but it’s possible.

I can be a survivor and so can you.


Can you identify any ways that you have taken on the victim mentality? How can you change that into the survivor mentality?


  1. That's a very good point - how we choose to frame our thoughts can empower us, or not!

  2. I catch myself lately saying stuff like that, "That was so stupid!" to myself and then correcting myself. "That wasn't stupid. It wasn't the best decision, but you can go back and _____ (redo, apologize, etc) to make things better." I don't know why some of us seem so geared to be negative to ourselves! It definitely helps to restate your thoughts or words. :)

  3. It's so easy to play the victim, especially when we compare ourselves to others and their "perfect" social media lives. Ugh. I often get comments about how maintaining a healthy weight is easy for me. Actually, it is farrrrrr from easy, it takes a lot of healthy eating (80/20 works best for me) and exercise and focus for me to stay where I'm at. My family isn't known for having the "skinny" jeans and I'm okay with that. It just calls for a lot of work on my end! I have been appreciative of my super high metabolism in pregnancy though, and am definitely taking advantage of it while it lasts, hehe!

  4. Oh I like this!! Awesome way to turn things around!! I keep singing that Destiny's Child "Survivor" song.....
    "I'm a survivor
    I'm not gonna give up
    I'm not gonna stop
    I'm gon work harder
    I'm a survivor"
    lol I'll be singing it all night now :)

  5. I've definitely been both the victim and the survivor. At times, I get so depressed at the things life has thrown at me (the inevitable things I couldn't change) and really wallow, other times I am amazed at what I can MAKE happen in my life! Great post.

  6. Wow. Have you been reading my journal? ;) I could have written every single one of your bullet points. I remember when I first started therapy, everything was because everybody else--I never owned my decisions. It was always, "I did this because this happened or so-and-so did this." When I finally started OWNING my decisions and realizing that I actually had the power to change my actions thus changing outcomes, I felt so incredibly empowered. Great post!



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