Privilege-Shaming Is A Toxic Symptom Of A Victim Mentality

Source: Autri Taheri, via Unsplash (Unsplash License)

It’s no secret that bad habits, lack of consistency, and lack of a clear purpose can make you feel directionless and stuck in a life that makes you feel trapped. However, one significant hindrance to a life of fulfillment is having a victim mentality. Many people either deny that they have a victim mentality or aren’t aware that they have it. A very clear sign that you may have a victim mentality is privilege-shaming.

Privilege-shaming is when you believe that society is bent on making you fail and only awarding those with privilege. While it is true that there are manipulative people who do corrupt deeds to keep their power, that’s for another discussion altogether. Rather, our focus is on those who still need to work hard to prove that they’re qualified, resilient, and ingenious enough to build a life they desire the most, regardless of how much or how little they started out with.

While it’s a bleak reality that there exist many social and economic barriers that are out of our control, a victim mentality should never be justified. You can never build a better life for yourself if you’re wasting time judging those who have what you want and blaming them for your current place in life. This will only keep you in a vicious cycle of comparing your lives to others, complaining about what you lack, and blaming others for having unfair advantages over you.

Now you might be asking who am I to tell you that privilege-shaming is toxic and counterproductive to success?

For quite a while, I used to have this mentality. I’m a minority. I’m not a charismatic social butterfly. I was diagnosed with autism when I was in preschool. I have chronic fatigue. I’m not conventionally attractive. I’m part of the first generation in my family to grow up in the middle class, while the generation before me grew up in poverty. I sometimes deliberately starved myself because I thought I would somehow “prepare myself” to be poor. I thought that because of my upbringing, I could only work a mediocre job and never follow my dreams. I didn’t have the privilege of studying what I loved in college because I had to prioritize practicality over passion. I’ve always felt like a misunderstood outsider. I didn’t make friends easily. I used to believe that others who succeeded quickly only did so because of their privileges. I never felt like I was good enough because I kept comparing myself to those who had access to elite private school education, were conventionally attractive, had the right mannerisms to make them likable, and grew up with great wealth, which allowed them to pursue opportunities that I never had. And these experiences of my past have given me perspective. I do empathize with those who desire to build a life they’re proud of but never get a chance to do so because of harsh circumstances. Believe me, I know how difficult it is shed all traces of victim mentality, especially privilege-shaming, whenever you start out with less and feel like you’re falling behind because of that. It’s something I’m still working to get rid of to this very day. But what I’ve learned over the years was that being envious of other people and blaming them for my own struggles never did me any good — it only held me back and prevented me from seeing that I truly did have the power within me to break free from these limiting fear-based beliefs.

You might be stewing in jealousy when people who have it all (supermodel looks, stellar intellect, popularity, and family wealth) attract even more abundance to their lives through their pursuit of a life they’re passionate about without having to endure any grueling jobs in a toxic work environment or suffer from hunger or hardship, simply because they were born into privilege. You might blame them for hogging up the upper class and not caring about people who are struggling. You envy them for the freedom of not having to worry about making ends meet. You start to believe that they’re somehow responsible for you falling behind in life and not gaining any recognition for your hard work. But be honest, what exactly has this done for you? Has it gotten you closer to where you want to be? Has this built you up enough to be qualified for opportunities?

It may be difficult to accept after everything you’ve faced, but life will never be completely fair. There are people who have to suffer more than others, and there are those who get a head start in life. However, regardless of how people fail or succeed, the only thing that matters is what you do with what you have and how you deal with what you don’t have. Are you going to complain all day and judge the hell out of others with an attitude of bitter resentment? Are you just going to wallow in self-pity? Or are you going to swallow your pride and make the best use of what you already have and move on from there?

Being resentful of privileged people won’t get you anywhere or take problems out of your hands. It’s a waste of time to sit back, watch those with privilege use their privilege to create more privilege for themselves, and complain more when they do so (this doesn’t apply to fraudulent people who cheat to maintain their position, rather, this applies to people who use the resources they have to build an authentic life they love while remaining grounded by gratitude).

No one owes you recognition. No one owes you success. No one owes you the life of your dreams. You still have to fight for everything you’ve ever wanted. You have to constantly check in with yourself whenever you don’t meet your own expectations. You can choose to whine about unfairness whenever things don’t go your way or you can choose to adjust your plans accordingly. Over time, you’ll learn that you can’t just ask for what you want without backing yourself up with evidence that you can put in the work that sets you apart from other people.

Though it may be difficult to hear, no one owes you an easy life, no matter how much you feel like you’ve been wronged or how much you’ve suffered more than others. You have to advocate for yourself and do so in a humble manner, without expecting anything in return. You aren’t as great as you think you are, suffering doesn’t make you a saint, and you can’t expect people to give you rewards just because you’ve gone through more hardships than the people you judge for being more privileged than you.

The only person you have control over is you. No one will want to listen to you if all you do is bash other people for their good fortune in life and angrily rant on and on about how unfortunate you are and how much others have wronged you. While inequality is an injustice in itself, constantly privilege-shaming other people will definitely hold you back from doing the best you can to help yourself. In business and society, nobody likes to work with victims or help them out if they remain constantly angry at the world and upper-class people for wronging them, especially when those who complain too much have done absolutely nothing to prove that they can provide distinct value to the world.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what others have or don’t have. It doesn’t matter how bleak your life may look in the beginning. Your life is yours and it’s really your choice to either become a victor who creates opportunities or to remain a victim who claims that people who go after opportunities are all privileged cheaters who don’t deserve success. The former will build you up, while the latter will keep you stuck in a perpetual cycle of misery, cynicism, and bitterness — all these things attract even more failure.

The only thing that’s in your power is your ability to be a little bit better than you were in the past.

Start where you are now. Learn about who you are. Look forward and keep your focus on you, not on others above or below you.

Only then can you grow and shape your reality instead of allowing reality to shape you.