When are you going to stop being the victim?
It is a short but powerful phrase and it can stir up a lot of unpleasant emotions like defensiveness, guilt, anger, denial. I know it did for me when someone asked me that question years ago. I am the therapist! I am the one asking that question of others..not someone else asking that of me, right?
Wrong. I think it’s a common error and most of us do it in one degree or another. It doesn’t have to be something so profound as to be called out of victimhood from a situation of terrible obvious abuse by others either. We can be quite adept at victimizing ourselves without needing anyone else’s help.
We create our own prisons of self doubt, of insecurity, of helplessness. We only think we are victims of chaos, of circumstance. The situation itself can be horribly painful but it is still a choice for us to identify as the victim and it is such a broad continuum we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
For example, I have recently encountered someone who has had some exacerbations of his COPD, but overall is doing quite well. He is rarely very short of breath but does require continuous supplemental oxygen. He is older, but cognitively intact and is still able to perform all his own self care. He is weakened but mostly because he believes himself to be so ill that he stays in bed 80% of the time. He has family and friends that reach out to him but he feels he is no longer worthy of this care and so he shuns everyone and then he only goes on feeling more alone and sick and unworthy of living. It’s a vicious cycle, but his whole identity is so wrapped up in his illness and in being a patient, he honestly can’t recognize that things aren’t nearly as bad as they once seemed. No matter what I say to him, he won’t accept any other reality than this one that he has created for himself. He is too identified and comfortable in his own misery to see there is alternative life of happiness available.
While that situation is fairly extreme, we all have a tendency to fall into that trap. We are a victim of financial strains, of relationship problems, of poor health, of difficult situations with our jobs or our children. We say things like “I’ll be better off when (fill in the blank).” Or, “I’ll be happy (with or without this or that).” We project possible happiness into the future or are imprisoned in situations from the past. We so rarely recognize the possible triumphs in the here and now and we are so quick to blame others for our problems when we are the ones that keep ourselves in the problem in the first place.
I had a dream last night about three horses standing under a small dilapidated shelter in a rainstorm. They were emaciated and dehydrated and I was angry because in my dream I had left their care up to another person and he obviously wasn’t fulfilling that obligation. I was also waiting for that person to paint the barn and clean it up. It seemed like a long time had passed that I was waiting for someone else to take over those jobs. I felt I couldn’t do it because I was too busy trying to manage other things. But when I realized the poor shape of things I took matters into my own hands and took charge. I was angry that there had been so much neglect but felt powerful in my resolve to set things right.
If you aren’t happy with the situation you’re in, it is not too simple to assume you can change it. Even if you’re in a physical jail cell and you have a life sentence to serve, you change your perspective about the time you spend there. If you’re in an unhappy relationship, you have to sometimes summon a great deal of courage but you owe it to yourself to recognize your own strength and change the situation. You may not believe you have it in you, but you do. The spirit is so much stronger than we often believe. You just have to remove yourself from the role of the victim and do what needs to be done. You’re only in your self-imposed prison as long as you decide that is where you want to be.
When will YOU stop being the victim? It is a good time to think about stepping out of the chaos, of that role of victimhood and be the hero to yourself. Like my painting below tries to suggest: It’s all an illusion anyway.
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I am a 42 year old mother of 3, living in Florida with my partner and youngest child. Like the mythological phoenix, I have been reborn out of the ashes of my former way of life and have, for the last several years, set out on an exploration of self expression through visual art and creative writing. I am immensely grateful to feel a part of every living thing in existence and the emergence of a growing evolution of consciousness within and throughout. I am interested in all aspects of energy healing and spiritual transformation and have just recently become a student of Reiki. I understand there is always a choice and I try to choose love over fear at every turn. I am grateful for all of the other women in this group and for their ever present support and guidance. Jennifer Bothast