Empowering Authors: Overcoming Vulnerability vs Victim Mindset

During the years I wrote and launched my book, Dare to Decide, many times I found myself faced with a challenge familiar to any new coach, leader or influencer when it’s time to step out with their message: vulnerability vs victim mindset. Knowing the difference, and addressing it accordingly, can make all the difference in how you show up to share your message—and how people respond to you.

Most of my 20s I spent feeling vulnerable, insecure and powerless. These were familiar feelings. I didn’t realize until much later that I held a victim mindset that was keeping me stuck.

Writing some parts of my book took me back to the year my first husband left our marriage. It revived a flood of memories of feeling vulnerable and powerless. Not because it was abusive but because I didn’t feel equipped or prepared to handle the emotional turmoil and rejection.

Yet, that was one of the most empowering seasons of my life spiritually, emotionally and mentally. When he left and I was an emotional wreck, I wanted an instruction guide. I wanted to how to walk through such devastation and repair it all. But, as kind, compassionate friends and colleagues reached out to help me, I realized no one really knew what to say or do about it. That was startling to me – and I felt even more helpless.

However, I refused to stay at rock bottom or repeat mistakes that landed me there. So I leaned into my pain and imperfections. I let God guide my healing path through books, journaling, prayer, counselling and the people He sent my way.

In that season of vulnerability, my pastor once commented that he sensed a “resolve as strong as an oak tree.” Amid some well-meaning advice-givers, inappropriate defenders and bitter victims that crossed my path and saw what they wanted to see, I needed to hear that someone saw strength in me. Not only did it affirm my resilience for that season, but remembering that “I have resolve as strong as an oak tree” gave me boldness to press through times of awkwardness or fear as tried new experiences.

You have strength in you too, no matter what surprises, challenges or vulnerabilities you face in your journey of helping others through your message or story. So how do you know the difference between vulnerability vs victim mindset?

What is Vulnerability vs Victim Mindset?: Spot the Difference

Here’s what I’ve noticed about the victim mindset:

  • The state of being or feeling vulnerable or uncertain invites unpleasant feelings
  • Because you feel weak or helpless, you begin to believe that you are weak and helpless
  • Having weakness attracts people who need to be needed, who feel like their opinion is the most important thing you need, or who have control issues
  • When you believe you are powerless, you tend to listen to or comply with anyone who has more power, stronger opinions or insistent advice; you might even feel like people owe you
  • Because you had to accept help and couldn’t figure it out on your own, you feel shame and even more helplessness
  • Rinse and repeat—the cycle continues

Said best by Brene Brown in Daring Greatly, vulnerability is

  • “the courage to let yourself be seen” [Brene Brown]
  • A gift that invites connection with other safe humans at a heart level
  •  “The birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
  •  “Not weakness; the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”

In other words, vulnerability doesn’t have to be a weakness. Vulnerability as a gift can be a gift that draws the people who need to hear your message, rather than a magnet for trouble. It can be strength and courage to show up curiously and unapologetically as fully yourself with the resources you have.

The Vulnerability of Writing a Book (and Sharing Your Message)

Writing and publishing a book with your message can feel precarious enough. Add pieces of your story in the book and no doubt you’ll stoke even more feelings of vulnerability. Here are five common reasons new authors of non-fiction or memoirs often feel vulnerable during this process:

  1. Fear of Criticism and Rejection:
    It’s normal to worry about how your work will be received. The fear of harsh criticism from readers, reviewers, and peers can be intimidating. Rejection from publishers or agents adds to this anxiety, making you question the value and credibility of your work.
  2. Impostor Syndrome:
    The struggle with self-doubt stokes the feeling you are not knowledgeable or experienced enough to write authoritatively on your chosen subject. Impostor syndrome can make you feel like frauds, constantly worried that you will be exposed as inadequate.
  3. Exposure of Personal Experiences or Opinions:
    Non-fiction and memoirs often involve sharing personal experiences, opinions, or insights. And while these stories go far in connecting with your ideal reader, you may feel vulnerable about exposing your inner thoughts, beliefs, and life stories to the public, fearing judgment or misunderstanding.
  4. Financial Concerns:
    The financial investment required for writing, editing, publishing, and marketing a book can be significant. When this catches you off guard, you may feel about the risk of not recouping your investment or not making a sustainable income from your work.
  5. Navigating the Publishing Industry:
    The publishing industry can be complex and overwhelming for new authors. Understanding contracts, timelines, marketing strategies, and dealing with the business side of publishing can make you feel out of your depth and vulnerable to failure or making a regretful decision.

These vulnerabilities are common and natural. With support, preparation, and persistence, new non-fiction authors can navigate these challenges successfully, especially when you are first letting God lead your heart and decisions.

However, trouble doubles when victim mindset creeps in.

Victim Mindset Woes for Authors

New non-fiction authors can sometimes adopt a victim mindset during the book writing and publishing process when faced with unmet expectations, challenges and setbacks. Here are five common reasons this might happen:

  1. Writer’s Block
    Some professional authors would argue that writer’s block doesn’t exist. But when you’re an author-to-be faced with a daunting blank page and no inspiration in sight, writer’s block feels real. If you peak under the surface, you might discover your creative juices are blocked by fear or distractions or high expectations. Writer’s block turns into a victim mindset when you stay stuck, waiting for inspiration to come rescue, instead choosing to work through your creative habits or fears.
  2. Rejection from Publishers and Agents
    Facing multiple rejections can lead authors to feel defeated and believe that the publishing industry is against them. This can foster a mindset that you are a victim of an unfair system rather than seeing rejection as a common part of the journey to refining your craft or understanding business sense and the market.
  3. Comparisons with Successful Authors
    Comparing themselves to more successful authors can lead new writers or message-bearers to feel inadequate and victimized by your perceived lack of success. This can create a sense of helplessness and frustration, overshadowing your own achievements and progress.
  4. Financial and Time Pressures
    The financial burden of self-publishing or the time commitment required to write and market a book can make authors feel overwhelmed. You might see yourself as a victim of circumstance, feeling that you lack the resources or support that others might have.
  5. Lack of Immediate Recognition or Success
    Many new authors expect immediate recognition or success. When it doesn’t come, you might feel that your efforts are futile. This can lead to a victim mindset where you believe you are doomed to obscurity despite your hard work, rather than understanding that success often requires an intentional marketing strategy, persistence, and time.
  6. Negative Reviews and Criticism
    Harsh or critical reviews can be discouraging, leading you to feel personally attacked or unfairly judged. This can cause you to focus on the negativity and perceive yourself as victims of unkindness, rather than using the feedback constructively.

Overcoming these challenges involves changing perspectives, seeking support, and maintaining resilience throughout the writing and publishing process.

Dear friend, when you decide your past pain or shame is worth sharing with others if it can help them, vulnerability is going to come with it. Writing that raw scene in your book will bring back emotions. Have no doubt, the journey of putting your book into the world can be a vulnerable process that easily showcases your weaknesses or increases your risk of rejection or being misunderstood.

However, know that you can be both vulnerable AND strong and resilient.

Your Superpower: Being Vulnerable with Courage and Resolve

Just because you’re frustrated that you can’t see 5 steps ahead doesn’t mean you’re not competent and faith-filled enough to fight through the one next step you know.

Just because you feel a tug of war between wanting to spend time with your family and more time on your book doesn’t mean this defines you.

Just because you want to spend less time on your dream or book so you can enjoy summer with your family, while your author friend is making faster progress, doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of your calling.

Just because you want to protect your privacy and yet also want to share personal stories that will let your ideal readers know they aren’t alone, doesn’t mean you need to overshare to make your point or that you’re an inauthentic person if you don’t share all the details.

Be you.

Notice what you feel.

Accept it. Be curious. Be confidently humble.

And then make your wisest choice to take the action you know you won’t regret. Be vulnerable without being a victim and your message will land with the people who need it most.


3 comments on “Empowering Authors: Overcoming Vulnerability vs Victim Mindset”

  1. Naomi Morris
    July 25, 2024 at 4:20 pm

    I just can’t believe this! I was just Googling around of living in a victim mentality and stumbled across this! Thank you for sharing this! I can’t wait to start the video series! Wow! God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect!

    1. User Avatar
      July 25, 2024 at 6:11 pm

      Beautiful! Yes, God’s timing is perfect. Praying the series blesses you. If you have any questions, aha moments or come across any glitches in receiving the video series, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

  2. […] my choices pulls me out from the weariness of helplessness: I can clean the living room or not, defer a task to someone else or not, sit and enjoy a cup of […]

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