How Do I Embrace a Survivor Mentality in Recovery?

When you are struggling with addiction, you may engage in actions and behaviors that allow it to continue without much consequence. These behaviors can include deflecting blame to other people and external circumstances, so you never had to admit your addiction was the thing wreaking havoc on your life. Living in this victim mentality will do nothing to help you get better and keep you stuck in a place of darkness and pain. By shedding this identity and learning how to embrace a survivor mentality, you can begin taking the proper steps to heal in your recovery.

The Role of Victim Mentality in Addiction

For addiction to continue over time, the person struggling must make justifications. Admitting that drugs and alcohol are causing trouble in one’s life is not an option for many individuals in active addiction, as it means they would have to look in the mirror and point at the person staring back at them as the one destroying their life. It is so much easier for these individuals to take on a victim mentality and assume the world is working against them. Instead of drugs and alcohol being the causes of their problems, it is other people or unforeseen external circumstances working against them in their eyes. If an invisible force or other people are working against you, you cannot possibly accept the blame for the things going wrong in your life….right? However, a victim mentality will keep you stuck in place and not allow you to heal fully.

How to Shed The Victim Mentality

The primary way to get rid of a victim mentality is to take back control of your life. The first step in doing this is recognizing and admitting that it is you and your decisions - not others or external circumstances - leading to the negative consequences in your life. Once you realize this, you can begin making positive changes in your life that will help you take back control and be on the way to positive living. You can receive help with this by going to therapy, engaging in various coping methods, and talking with others that have gone through the same situation. From here, you can begin to embrace a survivor mentality and start improving your life one step at a time.

What is a Survivor Mentality?

Unlike the victim mentality, a survivor mentality turns away from thoughts of being a target of bad things. Instead, it focuses on overcoming obstacles in life in a way that promotes healing, healthy living, and happiness. Instead of allowing negative situations to define their life, an individual with this mentality recognizes that while bad experiences are a part of life, they can overcome them and adapt to future situations.

How to Embrace a Survivor Mentality

Anyone can learn to embrace a survivor mentality. It takes dedication, resilience, and the constant need to improve one’s life. To enter into this mindset, you have to believe that there are resources and support out there to help improve your life. You also need to learn how to accept the pain in your past as a part of your life story rather than a defining feature of who you are as a person. Learning how to accept what you went through and then learning how to overcome it will help you grow in recovery rather than staying stuck in place. 

As you continue embracing this mentality, you may begin to notice your emotions shifting from sadness, guilt, shame, and pain to more positive ones of hope, happiness, and motivation. This is where the real healing happens, and it is essential to use these to your advantage to continuously work towards your recovery and a better life for yourself.

What Comes Next?

When you are actively in recovery, such as being at a treatment facility, you will be doing a significant amount of work to heal not only the physical consequences of addiction but the mental and emotional ones as well. Over time, it will become easier to embrace your new life and continually work to make it better. Eventually, you will enter into the thriving stage of recovery, where you come to a place of acceptance, understanding, and contentment with your life. While this does not mean you can stop putting in the work to heal, it does mean that you are in a more emotionally sound state. You will be better able to listen to yourself, connect with others, and be open to the numerous possibilities of healing that the world has in store for you; this in itself is the beauty of recovery. 


Many individuals that go through addiction have most likely embraced a victim mentality, leaving them stuck in a place with no hopes of escape. While it may feel impossible, healing is absolutely within reach and there for those that put in the work to achieve it. Recovery involves learning how to recognize and eliminate the victim mentality to embrace a survivor mentality; this means being open to the possibilities of healing and putting in the work to better yourself. You will learn that you are ultimately in control of your destiny and can shift your perspective from always being a target to being a survivor. From there, you can begin learning how to thrive in this role and continually help yourself and others in recovery. At Northstar Transitions, we hope that each of our clients will come to this point in their own healing journey. The Northstar difference is clinical excellence, evidence-based therapeutic modalities, personalized treatment plans, and our location in the serene and majestic setting of Boulder, Colorado. Call us today at (303) 558-6400 and start your path to healing.


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