How a victim mentality can ruin your finances

Can you think of a time a few years ago when you spent way too much money on something you wanted? A time when you did this even though there was was something much more pressing that you should have taken care of, like a credit card payment or student loan?

I just asked you about something that happened YEARS ago and you immediately had something in mind, didn’t you? You thought of something that you regret spending money on and can’t seem to forget about.

Here’s the thing: we are all human. It’s easy for us to know what we should be doing, yet do the exact opposite for whatever reason.

You’re still kicking yourself over it aren’t you? But why – didn’t you learn from it? Why haven’t you moved on?

I found this quote the other day in an article I read, and it really got me thinking:

“Regret can put you in a victim mentality, where you’re unable to move forward,” Lauber says. For example, you might think to yourself, “I didn’t start saving for retirement when I should have, and now it’s too late.”

The Victim Mentality

How true is this? It’s the same thing that happens with dieting. We set up this whole plan, prepare meals, and even feel amazing just thinking about how great this is going to be. We go grocery shopping to buy the right things and set up a strategy to help us along the way. “I’ve got this!”

Then three days into this new routine, someone brings donuts into work, or your spouse brings home chocolate and you just can’t resist. You tell yourself that you ruined it. Might as well go get take-out from down the street, because it’s all over.

We KNOW this is the wrong mentality, yet we allow it to consume our minds anyway.

The same thing goes with money mistakes. Maybe you haven’t been saving as much as you know you should be. At first you might think, “I’m already screwed. I might as well keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

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Why don’t we ever just stop and take a minute to figure out what actually happened there? We rush out of the thought of failure so quickly there is no time to think about it. On to the next brilliant idea.

When you do this, you actually become hostage to your own mind. You get upset because you couldn’t do this, or didn’t do that. The way you feel is your way of punishing yourself for what you haven’t done. You replay the situation over and over in your head. You let it haunt you so much that even YEARS down the line you still remember.

Allowing yourself to feel shameful around a past decision is taking you in the wrong direction. How can you change that?

Forgive Yourself

Get over the fact that you made the mistake. There is nothing you can change about the situation. We say this to other people over and over but never take our own advice. Allow yourself to be human.

Learn From It

The best way to reverse those feelings is to actually start doing something about them. Learn from the mistakes you make.

Instead of allowing ourselves to get stuck in the past, we need to move forward and learn from our mistakes. What triggered us to give in and eat the donut, or spend $1,000 on that new computer we didn’t need?

You’ve already tried something and failed. Take the extra two minutes and learn from your mistake. Don’t let it go to waste. Try to lean into the fact that you failed, and remember that all successful people fail LOTS on their way to that success.

Find what your triggers are and use them to your advantage.

Take Action

How many times are you going to allow yourself to start something, prepare really well, and then let it all go down the drain when one thing goes wrong?

Use those “triggers” you discovered in the last step to really set a well-structured path to follow from now on. If you spend too much on Amazon because you’re feeling bored, force yourself to leave the house for a few hours before you allow yourself to push that “Buy Now” button.

Yes it takes dedication, but setting yourself up to properly deal with the triggers that lead to bad actions will make it much easier to do the right thing the next time around.

Turn paralysis into action

If you don’t learn from your mistake, you will continue to do it. That mistake could become a habit, and that is the EXACT opposite result you were looking for.

Forgive. Learn. Plan.

What triggers you to make poor financial decisions?

Do You Know Your Credit Score?

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  1. During my first few years in the workforce after college, I was in a job that I really did not like. During this time, the job hunt for a new position was not going well. Instead of trying to figure out ways to make myself more attractive to potential employers and work on my skills, instead I played the victim because of the “tough job market”, even though I knew there were a lot of things I could be doing better.

    After awhile I finally realized that I was the only one that could make myself better so I stopped playing the victim, started working harder and found something that made life much more enjoyable!

  2. Taking ownership is really the first step in any process that will work to make past mistakes a learning opportunity. Too many times we blame other people or circumstances, but while this may shield you from feeling the guilt and negative feelings associated with bad choices, it also prevents you from taking the steps necessary to move forward so that you don’t repeat the mistakes. Or make worse ones!