Mental Health

Why some people always play the victim

Why some people always play the victim

Everybody has a bit of bad luck from time to time. But there are some people who seem to attract misfortune all the time.

Perhaps in a subconscious way they are. This can be because they always make choices that allow them to “play the victim”.

This is the person who wants to be seen struggling with heavy shopping bags in the rain when they know they can get their goods delivered to their door. This is somebody who almost seems to be pleased they have another new injury to show on their Facebook page.

They are the one who stays in the terrible relationship – so they can always tell you how unjustly they’ve been treated, once again. This is that person who always tells you what their bully of a boss has said or done this time, but who will never speak to their boss about it, leave the job or even look for a new one.

There are countless examples of someone who plays the victim – a state of being also know as victim syndrome, victim complex, or self-victimization. It is the making up or exaggeration of being a victim, time and time again.

Bad people, places and things…

Bad people, places and things

Someone who continually plays the victim believes that bad things always happen to them; that it is always the fault of others or circumstances; and that there is no point in looking for solutions as bad things will keep happening to them anyway.

If somebody suggests a solution, they are usually ready with a list of reasons why nothing will work – and try to get everyone to see how they are stuck as the victim. People who offer help are frequently left frustrated and bewildered – and in the end will understandably stop trying to help.

Unbeknown to the person with a victim complex, there are reasons behind their behavior. It is sometimes connected to an addiction to drama. Both continual “victims” and drama addicts can wear others away and take lots of their positive energy. So it’s natural that people will want to back away or completely cut them out of their life, at least for a while.

But while it is understandable to want to move away, detach with love, from anyone who steals our good energy, it is also important to have compassion. This is because behind a victim complex there is overwhelming inner pain – and it is that which fuels their behavior as a coping mechanism in life.

What is it like believing you are always the victim?

What is it like believing you are always the victim

It is extremely hard work and exhausting living life believing you are the constant victim of people, places, and things that are out of your hands. “Life has dealt me badly and continues to do so” is what someone with a victim mentality will truly believe.

Then every new struggle they have or can make happen or make up will reinforce their negative beliefs. They will be suffering inside from negative self-talk and self-sabotage, and this will stop them from even attempting any solution.

It will leave them living a life where they feel relentless resentment, anger, and frustration.

They will feel hopeless and hurt and are often bitter towards anyone who seems to not suffer as they do or who has good fortune, even if it is clear that person deserves their good fortune.

Because of these beliefs and negative inner dialogue, a person who always plays the victim is likely to have angry outbursts and suffer from depression. Even if they are surrounded by people, they will feel isolated, lonely, and disconnected.

Signs of self-victimization

Signs of self victimization

If you recognize some or all of these in someone – or yourself if you can be rigorously honest – they are signs of victim complex.

– No coping skills for life’s problems and so a feeling of being powerless to change and improve a situation. A victim never seems to learn and grow from bad things, and perhaps it is because subconsciously they do not want to stop playing the victim.

– Feeling trapped in life and always focusing on negatives and lack – what you’re missing, what there isn’t in life…

– Not wanting or accepting help or a solution when it’s offered. So using tactics such as suddenly changing the subject or then dismissing the problem as not really that bad – so that it can continue and repeatedly be brought up again.

– Feeling relief when able to claim and talk about being a victim.

– Often in a state of feeling sorry for themselves, wallowing in self-pity much of the time.

– Never looking at solutions, refusal even to consider there is one – so giving up before even trying (because a solution is not what is wanted).

– Always blaming others and avoiding responsibility for the way life is and really believing that life is bad and no one can be trusted.

Common phrases or variants that someone who plays the victim is likely to frequently say are:

“I must deserve all these bad things that always happen in my life.”

“It’s not my fault.” 

“Nobody even cares about me.”

“Why is it that everything bad always happens to me?”

“It’s pointless to even try asking that [about a solution], so why bother?”

Why do people want to play the victim?

Why do people want to play the victim

A victim mentality is often subconsciously developed as a way to cope, often from past trauma. That is frequently childhood trauma.

Connected to this is a lack of self-love and self-esteem. In many ways then it is as self-help author and motivational speaker Dr. Wayne Dyer said: “You get treated in life the way you teach people to treat you.”

That is, if you don’t value yourself it’s as if you are giving others permission to not value you either. This is especially the case in “romantic” relationships, where people who play the victim seem always to find someone who won’t treat them well.

So someone suffering from a victim mentality will think things like: “I’m not pretty enough to get or deserve anyone else.” Then it allows them to feel trapped in a relationship where they can continually tell everyone, including through social media posts, how poorly they are treated.

This way of thinking can be similarly applied to their jobs (or not having a job), family, or where they live. This low self-belief, often stemming from childhood from such as copious criticism, keeps them stuck.

Somebody who plays the victim can be doing it to manipulate others – and sometimes this is a sign of narcissistic personality disorder. They get attention through it, and often love and approval too. This can definitely be connected to having their needs unmet as a child and so seeking the love and approval they really needed from their parents and/or key caregivers when growing up.

This sort of manipulation also allows them to take advantage of other people’s kindness. Sometimes it has to be seen that sloth is a motivating factor in this.

Someone with a victim mentality likes the sympathy they get from other people. It temporarily picks them up due to receiving attention.

As well, because of it they may justify drinking or taking drugs, including some medications. Or they may get given money because of their “unfixable” problems.

If the trauma was a part of their childhood or something that happened in later life, then if they have never managed to find a way to cope with or resolve what happened, someone can fall into being a victim. It’s as if they do not even look for solutions because their past experience of not finding a way to deal with the trauma has scarred them.

Someone who plays the victim can feel they are justified in shirking life’s responsibilities. It takes courage to realize we are largely responsible for our own life – and then take action to do something positive about it, which frequently involves an element of risk.

Many people who play the victim have grown up in a household that taught them to focus on the world’s negatives and lack – and never to trust anyone. This is a way that has often been passed down as the attitude to live life for generations.

It makes taking risks that might be needed to get away from certain situations – an abusive partner, a job with a bully boss, living in a rundown part of town – seem too daunting to even consider. There is no belief that things can ever be different.

But there is always a solution. There are proven successful methods that let anyone move away from having a victim mentality – and go forward into the wonderful life they are truly meant to have.

Our expert therapists have helped people for decades now. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help you or someone you know.

Understanding gambling addiction

Understanding gambling addiction

Gambling addiction is a huge problem in our society and one that is rising around the world. In fact, a survey published in 2013 revealed that nearly six million people in America had a gambling disorder that warranted some form of treatment.

Also known as compulsive gambling, gambling disorder, or pathological gambling, it is classified by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as an addictive disorder. People with gambling addiction have many similarities with the traits of alcoholics and drug addicts.

This behavioral addiction fits one definition of addiction that is widely used by mental health experts. That is, it is something that someone cannot stop and stay stopped from that is detrimental to themselves and/or those around them.

Powerless over gambling

Powerless over gambling

A compulsive gambling addict cannot seem to control their impulse to gamble. This is whether they are winning, losing, wealthy or poor.

In terms of it being an addiction, it doesn’t matter whether someone can afford it or not. It’s about the powerlessness they seem to have over the behavior – despite negative consequences to themselves and others.

Thoughts and compulsion to gamble dominate them. They are never present in the moment unless they are gambling because otherwise they are constantly thinking about gambling. It can negatively impact everything they do in life – from work to family time to playing sports and doing hobbies as well as socializing too. It often badly affects sleeping and physical health due to not taking care of themselves, including not eating well.

Gambling and sport

Gambling and sport

There is comorbidity with alcohol and drug problems. Many gambling addicts are also more likely to suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression – including thinking about or attempting suicide.

Many gamblers with problems also suffer from bipolar disorder or unmanaged attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Significant links have also been found between problem gambling and daily tobacco use, as well as problematic shopping and addictive gaming.

Gambling addicts come from all backgrounds and all professions. But men are around seven times more likely than women to have a problem with gambling.

This is put down to the fact that gambling is often connected with sports, which men overall show more of an interest in. But some mental health experts also think it is likely because men are in general more hedonistic in nature and likely to take risks than women.

Other factors that can play a part in someone developing a gambling problem are:

  • Trauma.
  • Having other addictions.
  • Mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression.
  • Feeling isolated and lonely.
  • Being unemployed or retired.

As with other addictions, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can be behind gambling addiction. In this way, gambling can act as an all-consuming distraction (regarding the planning, doing, and aftermath) from the overwhelming pain of this.

Then there is the chase for the high – the “feel-good” chemical dopamine and “happiness hormone” endorphin are both released during gambling. But this high is always short-lived – and so the compulsion to gamble will start up again soon afterward.

How do I know if I have a gambling problem?

How do I know if I have a gambling problem

According to Gamblers Anonymous, founded in 1957 and now with meetings around the world that follow the Twelve Steps recovery program, answering these 20 questions can give a strong indication of a problem with gambling or not. The more someone answers “yes”, the greater the problem they are likely to have.

  1. Do you lose time from work or school due to gambling?
  2. Is gambling making your home life unhappy?
  3. Is gambling affecting your reputation?
  4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
  5. Do you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  6. Does gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  7. After losing, do you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
  8. After a win, do you have a strong urge to return and win more?
  9. Do you often gamble until your last dollar is gone?
  10. Do you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
  11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
  12. Are you reluctant to use gambling money for normal expenditures?
  13. Does gambling make you careless of the welfare of your family?
  14. Do you gamble longer than you planned?
  15. Do you ever gamble to escape worry or trouble?
  16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
  17. Does gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
  18. Do arguments, disappointments, or frustrations create an urge within you to gamble?
  19. Do you have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
  20. Have you ever considered self-destruction as a result of your gambling?

Is there a solution for gambling addiction?

Is there a solution for gambling addiction

Gambling can be successfully treated in the same manner as other addictions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown positive results for many people.

Benefits of recovery from gambling addiction include getting your life back on track and your finances in order. If left untreated though, as with all addictions, it is a progressive illness that will most likely get worse.

We carefully listen in complete confidence to everyone who chooses to be our guest at Tikvah Lake, in our wonderfully peaceful environment including our beautiful tranquil lake. We offer a personalized treatment program to work for the swiftest and most enduring recovery.

Our friendly experienced team has treated people with all types of mental health problems. Contact us to have a chat about how we can help you or someone you care about – starting today.

Why sex matters in a relationship

Why sex matters so much in a relationship – and can cause so many problems

From a certain age onwards, sex is a major part of most people’s lives. It can give us so much joy – but also seems to cause so much trouble.

Why is that? Why can sex seem to have so much power over us and be so important?

Perhaps to understand the answer to this, the first thing is to consider why we want to have sex and what benefits it gives us. These are emotional, spiritual, and physical in their nature.

Physical benefits of sex

There are undoubtedly physical reasons why people want to have sex. After all, it is how we are designed: to ensure the human race continues.

So sex gives us pleasurable physical feelings. Nothing else gives us these same sorts of physical feelings. They are innate and there to encourage us to want to have sex.

There are also some other positive physical reasons, many of which are the same as from doing any physical exercise. These are:

  • Improves immune system
  • Gives natural pain relief 
  • Improves heart health and reduces heart disease and stroke risk
  • Strengthens muscles 
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Burns calories
  • Helps us sleep better

Emotional & spiritual side of sex

There is also an emotional and spiritual drive for and reasons to have sex. One thing is that it releases our happiness hormones, and this increases our bond with someone.

Sex boosts intimacy between people – because it is as intimate as it gets. To be naked as we mostly are during sex is a vulnerable act of trust in another person.

Sex is a very spiritual act too. It is two people becoming one with each other.

It is a way of showing love and affection for another person. It is literally a part of “making love” – as in creating and making love grow.

It boosts security in a relationship. It shows a strong commitment to each other.

A healthy sex life shows that partners are in tune with each other. It is that their communication is good and/or that compromise, as is needed in many ways in all relationships, is positive.

It is also a great way of relieving stress. This is to do with hormones that are released during sex and particularly at climax.

But it is also because it is something that stops us from thinking and worrying about anything else. We are, naturally, in the moment. It is an escape.

For this reason, sex is sometimes called “la petite mort” in France – meaning “the little death”. This is because we lose ourselves so much during sex it is as though the ego has died. Again, this is why sex is a very spiritual thing.

Why does sex cause so much trouble?

Why does sex cause so much trouble

There are some obvious reasons why sex causes so many problems. One of these is that many people have sex on a casual basis.

This can be fine and fun but undoubtedly does cause trouble as sometimes one person might think there was more to the joining together than another.  It can lead to inner turmoil for one person if they regret having sex, sometimes when their inhibitions are down such as happens after drinking too much or using drugs, especially excessively.

Them sex, of course, can make babies. This can cause a problem if one partner doesn’t want a baby and the other does. Sometimes in long-term relationships sex lives will suffer as a consequence.

Similarly, it can be that one partner might want sex while the other doesn’t want it. It could be that one partner has a low sex drive for various reasons – and these can be psychological and/or physical.

Psychological reasons can be due to past experiences, including sexual abuse. Physical reasons could be pain that arises during sex or not being able to physically function in some way, something that can happen as part of the aging process.

If we use sex selfishly it becomes a problem, and lots of people do of course. They will put self-centered demands on another.

Or one partner might use sex in a reward or punish manner. This is always likely to lead to big problems.

Some people also want to have sex in an attempt to boost their self-esteem. They feel much more valuable, loved even if they are having sex.

So it’s for insecurity and low self-esteem reasons. It can cause trouble then if they are not having sex or not having it as much as they want.

This can also lead to sex addiction as a way to seek love and approval. It is something often connected to childhood experiences of not having essential needs met by parents and/or caregivers that leaves someone feeling unlovable. Frequently it’s connected with another behavioral addiction – relationship addiction.

If sex drives are mismatched it can lead to one partner feeling extremely frustrated and perhaps getting angry. If it has been spoken about, but one partner doesn’t appear to be playing their part in compromise, it can lead to huge resentment and sometimes be one thing behind depression. It can also sometimes be a sign of codependency.

This can also of course lead to one partner cheating on the other, justifying it this way – and with all the major trouble that can cause. This is not just to the relationship, but also if this affair is a secret it can tear apart the person who is cheating as they lie and live a deceitful life. If the couple has children, this can all be even devastating and problematic.

For most people, sex is hugely important. Everybody is different of course, but for most of us, it’s vitally important that we have healthy sex lives.

Our expert Tikvah Lake team has helped people for decades with all emotional disorders and mental health problems. Call us today to discuss how we could help you or someone you know.

Warning signs of pandemic burnout

How to deal with pandemic burnout

Pandemic burnout is real. We are fast approaching the two-year mark when Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, and the end is still not in sight. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single person who hasn’t been affected by the pandemic in some form.

The anxiety, stress, and uncertainty the pandemic caused make it more important than ever to take care of your mental health. Pandemic burnout affects young and old, leaving us feeling mentally exhausted, hopeless, helpless, isolated, lonely, and on edge.

Signs of pandemic burnout

Signs of pandemic burnout

Long hours and unrelenting work pressure can lead to debilitating physical exhaustion and mental fatigue. The pressure to always perform at your best makes you feel anxious, depressed, angry, hostile, cynical and irritable. You feel overwhelmed, besieged and uncharacteristically emotional and out of control.

These are typical warning signs of executive burnout. Take those red flags, add a few more listed below, and you likely have pandemic burnout.

  • your sense of purpose is diminished
  • you lack the motivation to keep going
  • you procrastinate, put off doing tasks, don’t meet work deadlines
  • you feel isolated and depressed
  • you feel detached, disconnected from colleagues, friends and family
  • you feel helpless, vulnerable or defenseless
  • you feel guilty for having a job and a reliable income
  • you feel overwhelmed, crushed, defeated
  • you feel controlled, resent the loss of your freedom
  • you constantly feel fearful and anxious
  • a sense of doom and gloom hangs over you
  • you experience panic attacks
  • you’ve lost interest in people, places and activities that used to bring you joy
  • you binge drink or take drugs to cope with anxiety and depression
  • you start to resist Covid-19 safety protocol; refuse to wear a mask, social distance, sanitise etc.

What is the difference between pandemic and executive burnout?

What is the difference between pandemic and executive burnout

Pandemic burnout is a new type of burnout, one where fear, anxiety and a sense of helplessness add a stifling layer on top of chronic physical and mental fatigue brought on by “burning both ends of the candle” on the work and home front.

Dr Meyers describes burnout as “emotional exhaustion and decreased personal achievement in response to interpersonal and emotional stress. It’s an occupational illness, a state of fatigue and frustration brought about by over-commitment to work, a cause or a way of life that does not produce the expected reward. It’s not just physical exhaustion; it’s an erosion of the soul in people.”

Dr Meyers is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and the author of 7 books that deal with mental health issues. Dr Meyers serves on the Advisory Board to the Committee for Physician Health of the Medical Society of the State of New York.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes executive burnout as physical and mental symptoms “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The WHO classifies burnout symptoms on three dimensions:

  • emotional exhaustion (lack of energy, feeling emotionally drained)
  • depersonalisation (alienated, unmotivated, skeptical, cynical)
  • reduced personal and professional accomplishment

Read: The well-being/engagement paradox of 2020

What triggers pandemic burnout?

What triggers pandemic burnout

Naturally, we felt alarmed and anxious at the start of the pandemic, but we were motivated to do our bit to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the virus. As the months wore on and we experienced the emotional yo-yo effect of lockdowns being imposed, lifted and then imposed again, it became challenging to stay positive and engaged in daily life.


Noun: fearmongering; the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue.

Emotional and mental fatigue set in, worsened by media fearmongering and the politicisation of the virus. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask. It’s not safe to go out, it’s safe to go out. Keep kids at home, send kids back to school. Get the vaccine, don’t get the vaccine.

Decisions are questioned and judged; friends, family and colleagues turn on each other out of fear and frustration. You don’t know who to trust or what to believe; you feel out of control, disorientated and confused.

Social isolation

The novelty of working from home wore thin; we struggled to set boundaries for a healthy work-life balance, and became increasingly isolated and lonely. Businesses and schools shut down; we were confined to our homes. We split our time between meeting work deadlines and giving our children the attention they needed to stay on top of school work.

The pandemic created unprecedented social isolation. We experienced external isolation when we were cut off from friends, family and the outside world. We experienced internal isolation; struggling with feelings that were mostly foreign to us like distrust, disbelief and skepticism. We lived with a crippling fear of contracting the virus or a loved one getting sick and passing away.

Breakdown of work-home boundaries

Businesses suffered and shut down. Retrenchment was an ever-present threat. We were told the economic fallout from the pandemic would be long-lasting. The fear of losing our jobs kept us at our desks, working long hours to prove our worth to demanding bosses.

Mental health in jeopardy

Work stress, anxiety, frustration and mental fatigue increased as the pandemic dragged out but we soldiered on, motivated by fear of losing our jobs and livelihoods. Fear is a great motivator and spurs people into action, but it is not sustainable.

Without a solid foundation of emotional wellness, fear-based engagement is short-lived. It leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, and diminished self-esteem and confidence.

Read more: The pandemic has caused a new kind of burnout

It’s okay to admit you have pandemic burnout

Admitting that you have pandemic burnout

The Covid-19 pandemic came as a shock to people worldwide, and it disrupted our lives in extraordinary ways. There was wholesale panic over keeping our jobs or businesses afloat, paying bills, putting food on the table and staying alive.

We are still dealing with anxiety as new variants reach our shores, vaccination debates rage, mainstream media continues to flog fear and panic, and no one has any clue when life will return to normal.

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, frightened and anxious. The pandemic appears to be here to stay, for a while longer at least. It’s a good idea to take stock of your emotional well-being and put things in place to safeguard it. If your mental state is fragile and your grip on things at work and home is slipping, you need to get help.

Remember these three things:

  1. It’s okay to admit you’re not fine

    If you feel physically exhausted and emotionally drained, you are not alone. The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone. It turned our lives upside down, and it keeps throwing curveballs at us. It’s okay to admit you’re struggling to cope. We are rowing our boats in unchartered waters.
  2. It’s okay to mourn for what you have lost

    The pandemic destroyed careers and businesses, stole precious time with family and friends, robbed us of milestones, took loved ones too early, and put our physical and mental well-being at risk. It’s okay to grieve, not only for what you have physically lost but for the loss of your hopes, dreams and way of life.
  3. It’s okay to ask for help

    Safeguarding yourself from having a complete mental breakdown is just as important as wearing masks, sanitising and social distancing. Put aside feelings of guilt that you at least have a job and you’re alive when others have died. Asking for help when others are worse off than you is okay. Your mental well-being is more important than your pride.

    If your emotional well-being is wobbly because you are overworked, feel isolated and depressed, struggle to keep motivated, you’re in financial trouble or feel highly anxious about the future, you need to speak to someone and get help to rebalance your emotional state. If you can’t talk to someone at work, you should talk to your doctor or a psychologist.

5 tips to ward off pandemic burnout

Tips to ward off pandemic burnout

Re-set your mental timeframe for pandemic recovery

Three weeks to flatten the curve turned into a year, and soon it will be two years since our lives were turned inside out and upside down. Rather than fight frustration, confusion and anxiety that threatens to engulf you because daily life is so unpredictable, accept the fact that life will not return to normal for a long time. Re-set your expectations. Stay flexible and resist the urge to rail against the status quo.

Set firm boundaries for a health work-life balance

Working from home during the pandemic often leads to longer working hours; we start earlier and end later, and we’re available on weekends. We also may work longer hours or ignore work-home boundaries because we feel “so grateful to have a job”.

Companies install computer software programmes like Bossware, which is meant to monitor work productivity but instead fuels a culture of overworking. Putting in long hours doesn’t make you productive, just exhausted and disillusioned.

Speak to your boss about their expectations of your work performance and set work targets. As long as you meet those within a typical working day, you should not feel under pressure to overwork to prove your worth.

Take time off

We were in lockdown, borders were closed, and travel was restricted. With nowhere to go, we stayed home and worked hard. Lunch breaks and social chats at the coffee machine vanished, employee leave was cancelled, and we felt extra pressure to prove our worth and keep our jobs.

All work and no play is a recipe for pandemic burnout. Let your boss know when you are away from your desk for tea or lunch breaks, and put in for leave as you would do each year, even if you have a ‘staycation’ at home.

Detox from social media

The Covid-19 pandemic provided news journalists and social media with extraordinary amounts of clickbait. This is Internet content published with the sole purpose of attracting readers to sites and encouraging users to click on links on web pages. An insatiable appetite for clickbait has driven the spread of misinformation and scaremongering content.

Either reduce the amount of time you spend on social media platforms or have a complete break from them. Research shows that excessive time spent on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can cause serious mental health problems.

Get back to doing the things you loved

Walks in the park, meeting friends for coffee, hitting the gym, birdwatching, surfing, art and crafts, road trips; try to pick up where you left off before Covid-19 was declared a pandemic. Take time away from your workstation to get fresh air, regular exercise and increase dopamine levels the natural way.

You might not be able to do everything you loved doing before Covid-19 disrupted your life, but you can find ways to refresh and reinvigorate your battle-weary mind, body and soul.

What should you do if you have pandemic burnout?

What to do if you have pandemic burnout

It may be necessary to take time off work and book yourself into an inpatient wellness treatment centre like White River Manor. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to heal if you are physically and mentally burnt out.

If you are self-medicating pandemic-induced burnout with alcohol or drugs, it’s more important than ever that you seek help before you develop a chronic addiction.

If you or someone you know is threatening suicide, please urgently call your national Suicide Crisis Line.

We’re here to help.

Contact us today if you’d like a confidential and free chat with one of our qualified mental health and addiction care professionals at Tikvah Lake in Florida.

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