Victim, it’s such a loaded word!
No one would ever want to claim “victim” as their title… but like our shadow side… the very thing we are so often unwilling to look at, will eventually play a significant role in our life.
So let’s start with a definition — being a victim can mean many things ranging from the legal perspective of having been a victim of crime, all the way to the more day-to-day feeling of being hard-done-by, left out, abandoned, etc.
A “working definition” could include the state of being that exists any time you feel helpless, hopeless, or powerless. When feelings like this invade, you have gone into a state of victim. The reason it’s important to notice those feelings of helplessness etc., is because they are linked in your nervous system with survival — our physical and emotional survival.
It Starts So Early
So let’s backtrack just a little. Imagine the young baby learning all about its world and how important it is to feel safe and loved. Anything that threatens this will be very significant and the system will take note, hoping to avoid that in the future. It “records” all the experiences that shock it and creates any sense of helplessness, and consequently, is on constant alert for anything in the present or future that could threaten its security.
For me, being given up for adoption at birth must have been quite a shock to my system, even though I have no conscious memory of it. Regardless of how necessary this step must have been for my birth parents, it would naturally carry a lot of emotion with it. My system absorbed this emotion, and it’s pretty easy to predict that I would then be sensitive to being left out, abandoned, etc. Ironically my adoptive parents called me “Little Me Too”… because I used the phrase, “me too,” so much. How fitting.
Now, besides being a cute story, how is my “sensitivity” relevant to my experience today? It’s very relevant if I get triggered every time I feel left out and create my “past” in my present experience. This will keep me in a never-ending loop of wanting inclusion (Choice Theory calls this “love and belonging”), and fearing disappointment. If, on the other hand, I have cleared this original shock to my nervous system, it allows me to be fully present and “response-able” to what’s actually going on currently.
So many people are walking around with many “sensitivities” that get triggered on a regular basis. Sensitivity to being noticed, appreciated, valued, being smart, or right… and the list goes on. This is a really hard way to go through life.
How familiar are these phrases to you:
- “It’s not fair…”
- “It’s not my fault…” (Feeling blamed)
- “Why me?” (Feeling picked on or singled out)
- “I should have known better…” (Self blame or criticism)
And the most insidious…
- “She/he is smarter, funnier, better looking, thinner, etc…” the ongoing process of comparison. Comparisons will always create a sense of either superiority or inferiority.
All of these phrases point to a feeling of “less-than.” This immediately offers you the opportunity to recognize that you have moved out of the present, and slipped back in time to a “younger you.” This younger you does not have the wisdom, resources, and experience that the adult, present you enjoys. Having a younger you run your life, interact with others, or solve a problem will likely not deliver the outcomes you want.
After working with people for many years, I finally recognized simply trying not be triggered by the outside world (or the little voice in your head), and avoid all the “stuff” that comes with it, will not create peace, joy, or freedom. As the book, Who Moved My Cheese highlights often, “There’s no cheese down this tunnel.”
Gaining perspective or distance from triggers is a good step, but I believe there is another step to be taken. As a species we need to evolve beyond our biology, and that means moving beyond the strategy of gaining safety and security from the external world. Peace, joy, and freedom are only found on the inside.
My point is NOT that we should hide or try to get rid of these feelings, but to recognize that they are a signpost pointing to the identity with which we are presently connected (Constructed). The Constructed Identity is completely enmeshed with all of the younger fears, hurts, and disappointments, and our response patterns. In contrast, as I wrote in the previous blog post, when we are in touch with our Authentic Identity we are in a much different place – one of receptivity, compassion, creativity, and ease.
If you’re in a position of leadership or management, the book,
Leadership and Self-Deception, written by the Arbinger Institute is a great resource.
I have recommended it to many people, and even the title has triggered/offended them, confirming that it’s perfect!
On the personal side, check out Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly.
Another courageous book that encourages people to step out
of the “box” and move towards authenticity
In closing, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to connect, in any way you can, with your Authentic Identity before trying to solve a problem, connect with another, or make important decisions. This could include taking time to centre and breathe, step out into nature, listen to some music, or any other experience that opens your heart. Your nervous system already knows, at some deep level, what your Authentic Identity feels like.
If this concept seems far-fetched, too difficult, or like a “pipe dream,” I encourage you to consider that it’s within the realm of possibility, and I would be thrilled to have a conversation with you to talk about how you might access it more easily.
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Next time… How the Past Creates a Future We Don’t Want.