How Not to Be a Victim: A Guide to Self-awareness and Empowerment

“He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.” – Lao Tzu

To take more control of your life, consider these questions.

Are there beliefs you’re holding onto that you need to release?

What have you experienced or learned in the past that may be holding you back?

Have you been conditioned to take a “victim mentality” or do you take initiative to deal with problems?

This last question is of particular importance. When we take a victim mentality, our view of what happens in life is focused only on external conditions. For more information about victim mentality, check out top psychology schools that can teach you how a person with this kind of mentality found herself swirling in a sea of resentment towards her abuser.

From this perspective, we are not responsible for what happens to us. Instead, our fate lies with other people, our environment, and current life circumstances.

A victim is a victim because they feel they have no control over their life.

When it comes to making change and accomplishing what you desire, recognize that you are an active agents in your life’s unfolding.

Empowerment is the key to this self-affirming attitude, and we all have this power within us to participate in life.

Those who are empowered feel confident to achieve what they desire and are prone to reach for positive change.

Simply put, empowerment is needed to improve our lives and live abundantly.

Here are 15 tips to help you become more empowered.

  1. Be grateful and give thanks – Learn to dwell on the positives instead of the negatives. Write down 5 people you’re grateful for, or 5 good things that have happened to you over the last week.
  2. Know that adversity is the greatest teacher – Having an empowered attitude allows us to bounce back from difficulty and rise to challenges. Let go of past mistakes and regrets. Forget about all the things you “should’ve” done and begin to look toward a bright future.
  3. Focus on being at the right place at the right time – Look for opportunity in everything you do. Begin to shift your focus from problems to solutions, and be conscious of the opportunities that surround you.
  4. Don’t worry about the approval of others – We cannot please everyone. There will be people who disagree with us and who seem to be against us. Don’t let them steal the desire and belief in your inspiring vision.
  5. Have courage to be different – Be willing to step outside of the box and be innovative. How can you stand out from the crowd and differentiate yourself from others?
  6. Connect with a power greater than yourself – There is a paradox when it comes to a sense of control. To recognize we don’t have complete control opens up the channel of true faith and hope so we can really dream big.
  7. Know that life is a sacred journey – Our soul has chosen to live this life and we are here for a purpose. Consider what your mission is in this life and connect with it fully and passionately.
  8. Be lighthearted and laugh a lot – Beginning to cultivate a sense of personal power doesn’t have to be a serious experience. Take an approach of letting go of total control and find amusement in the process of manifesting your desires. Have fun as your life unfolds.
  9. Integrate heart and mind – A wise mind involves the integration of logic and emotion. Learn to connect with your intuition and passions, while being able to think critically and problem solve with reason.
  10. Quite comparing yourself to others – Discouragement will arise when we are always comparing ourselves to others. You are an original and unique creation of God. Find promise and strength within you.
  11. Accept where you are today and create greater goals for the future – Learn to be content with where you are. This doesn’t mean not striving for more and reaching for your potential, but instead remaining joyful through the process.
  12. Maintain emotional balance – When it comes to making important decisions and pursuing greater things, we must be able to trust ourselves and have the respect and trust of others. Work to have balance and integrity in your day to day life. Be consistent and reliable.
  13. Don’t judge, criticize, or complain about other people – You can only control yourself. Start asking more empowering questions. Instead of “Why me,”ask “What can I do to change or make things better.”
  14. Know that nothing is permanent and all change is a “gift” – When one door closes another will certainly open. No challenge will last forever. Begin looking for the lesson and meaning within unexpected changes.
  15. Don’t fear uncertainty, embrace it – If there is one thing that keeps people stuck in a victim mentality it’s fear of uncertainty and worrying about what bad things might happen. Learn to appreciate fear as a sign you are growing and expanding in a positive direction. Don’t let fear make you stagnant.

Live with awareness and be intentional

When we move past the victim mentality we can take an active role in our life course.

This requires us to be 100% committed to making change and a willingness to acknowledge limiting beliefs and let go of past regrets. 

Be aware of how the environment may be influencing you, or if you’re being a victim to your surroundings and relationships.

Simply look to your environment for feedback and be willing to adapt accordingly.

There is a difference between our external and internal reality. Our needs, feelings, aspirations, and motives that drive us internally may be different from the environment we are interacting with. Begin turning inward to find answers.

Be an active thinker and appreciate when you’re confronted with new knowledge and different perspectives.

It can be in our best interest to reexamine old assumptions and beliefs that drive our behavior, as we may have blind spots that we can correct when recognized.

Empowerment is a key factor in living fully with a mission and purpose, so consider if your concerns and focus are in alignment with your purpose.

Getting stuck in a rut is simply the product of losing our drive to do what needs to be done and shifting our focus away from what is empowering and uplifting.

Don’t let this hold you back.

Let go of the past, begin to live more intentionally, and cultivate your personal power.

My Connection

This is where I provide my personal connection to the ideas in the post. I hope you will join the conversation by leaving a comment, and offering your personal connection to these ideas as well.

This post was inspired from my continued battle with self-defeating thoughts. Last week as I was traveling and conducting seminars in Nebraska, I was on the road and had a lot of time to think.

As I critiqued how things were going, I felt good overall, but in the back of my mind there was a sense of uneasiness and discouragement that I was an amateur and lacking in the capacity needed to be successful.

I started to have a pity party and doubt my future. It was one of those times where you start thinking, “who am I kidding,” “what am I doing with my life.”  I felt as if my desires were out of reach and that I was simply a joke.

Fortunately, this experience didn’t end on a sour note. I could’ve got stuck in this victim mentality and progressively fallen deeper and deeper into my dismal state, but I decided to shift my focus, find meaning and value in the experience, and cultivate my inspiration and faith in a greater purpose.

I became conscious of my intention to manifest and expand my life. I became aware and made a shift, and in doing so became empowered.

We must become aware of these type of patterns and catch ourselves when we go down this road.

How do you stay motivated and inspired when things get tough? What helps you break out of the victim role?

Photo by: Polina Sergeeva


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  • Angela |Powered by Intuition

    Thank you for the great tips Joe. I love “connect to a power greater than you are.” Awesome.

  • David Stevens

    Hi Joe,
    One of my favourite topics….I see so many victims…..and it doesn’t have to be that way. A fine list of ‘empowerements’ Joe & thank you for including a bit about your personal story.
    be good to yourself

  • Alex Blackwell

    Remarkable list Joe. I know when I show gratitude on a consistent basis, then the whole world seems to open up to me – now that’s empowerment!


  • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind


    Thanks for stopping by! I have learned that a sense of control leads to empowerment, but true freedom and empowerment comes from a faith beyond ourselves and allowing this to work in our life.

  • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi David,

    Thanks for stopping by, much appreciated! We certainly don’t have to be victims, but unfortunately we are conditioned to think this way. Much of our victim mentality is simply an illusion that we have learned to believe. By shifting thinking to a more positive alternative we start to realize that there are beliefs to release in order to free ourselves to live a full life.

  • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for leaving your thoughts and insight! Being grateful is one of the best ways to dwell on the positive and begin viewing the ourselves, others, and world in a more benevolent way. The world is on our side if were willing to be open to the process!

  • Hiten Vyas

    Nice post Joe. I believe people needn’t be ashamed of their problems, or be afraid to talk about them. We all experience problems from time to time. And as you quite rightly said Joe, ‘adversity is the greatest teacher’.

  • Andrea

    your post couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you for sharing. I also had a pity party last week and was consumed with a lot of self-doubt. I have been facing many challenges and no amount of positive thinking was going to get me through it. But I channeled it on the yoga mat and spent some quiet time with me to regain my peace and focus on my goals.

  • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Hiten,

    It’s great to meet you and thanks for the comment! We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge about ourselves. When we can recognize that we will experience a problem here and there and that we can grow from these experiences, it is very freeing and we become open to engage in life more fully.

  • Sierra

    Very great post! Step #4, Don’t worry about the approval of others really hit home for me! Unfortunately I find it a lot easier said than done most of the time! 

  • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks so much for sharing this experience! It can be tough when self-doubt creeps in and starts taking over our focus and attitude. Awareness is the key to dealing with this. Sometimes we just need to get centered and grounded to regain our confidence and composure. Nice to meet you!

  • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind


    Thanks for adding to the post! It is easier said than done when it comes to making a mental shift or changing our reactions. We can become fixed in the way we deal with things and it can certainly be a process. Stick with it and hope to hear from you again!

  • Charitysteckel

    Hi Joe,
    Thank you so much for the empowerment and encouragement that this site gives.
    You are awesome!!  I came to your blog searching for answers on how to battle my own negative thoughts that sabotages my goals of reaching my potential. Your blog gave me practical steps in overcoming my fear of success. Thank you for bringing light to the darkened world or mind with negative habits of thinking.  This is truly a gift. 
    God is going to use you in a mighty way to teach others on how to reach their potential in order to Glorify Him. 
    “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and Glorify your Father which is in heaven”  Matt 5:16
    To God be the glory, honor and praise!!!
    I want to encourage you to keep pressing on towards the mark.  
    ” Joshua 1:9  Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

  • Jsalyers

    Wow, this post covers everything in my head! It’s all absolutely true, and I’ve fought it all and will continue to do so. Getting closure this year on some old hurts really paved the way for me to get my head on straight(er), as well. Thanks – I’m tweeting and printing this!

  • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind


    Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement! We are all in this together offering support as each of us reaches for our calling and purpose. Your support means a lot and do hope this site offers some growth and expansion. Thanks for the inspiring message and sharing these verses!

  • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

    Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts! We all need closure  on our losses and pain. Sometimes this peace of mind comes when we recognize a positive perspective amidst a truly difficult time. It is not easy though it is necessary to move forward toward our bright future.

  • Ken Wert

    What an awesome list of ways we can become more empowered, Joe! Thanks so much for sharing these insightful tips.

    So many of these touched me: A life lived as a sacred journey is siomply lived differently than one that’s not. Looking for opportunities in the right place and time and accepting adversity as the greatest of all teachers just changes the nature of the things we’re dealing with.

    Thanks again, Joe. Very well said.

  • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for your kind words and wisdom! It really is about changing the nature of what we’re dealing with by gaining perspective on the situation and how we see things. We all just need to find our own way to become more empowered in the face of adversity.

  • Victor

    Thanks a million. This is very helpful

  • Shakeoffthegrind

     Hi Victor,

    Thanks for taking time to comment! Look forward to hearing from you in the future!