From almost as young as I can recall I’ve been a victim. I remember rushing out of the house, aged about 4 or 5, blunt butter knife pressed into my belly and threatening to kill myself in response to being ignored. My parents laughed, knowing not only that I couldn’t, but also that I wouldn’t.
When my parents vanished without trace a year or two later, I ended up living with my grandfather and step grandmother who were both Colonels in the army. I found this experience heart-breaking and debilitating on many levels. My response was to shut down emotionally, to stop trusting people and to get angry. I became a victim. I entered what you might call the drama triangle of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer.
To this day I recognise this pattern underlying many of the experiences I find frustrating, challenging or unexpected. It’s a default ‘safe’ state to go to when I feel ‘at effect’ by what’s going on around me. I unconsciously choose to respond with anger if I’m playing the persecutor or despondency and depression, as the victim.
My personal development over time has helped me move out of the victim role. I live a blessed life. I run my own business, have a property portfolio and a large degree of financial freedom. I live in Ibiza, travel the world and help others to unlock their potential. On the face of it, I’m anything but a victim. I’ve created my life with a remarkable degree of freedom.
But at the deepest level I’ve still been playing a victim.
This recently surfaced in the way I was feeling ‘at effect’ in my relationship; unable to share how I was feeling without creating conflict or feeling despondent and unhappy with ‘no out’.
So my work now is to rise above the victim which I developed in childhood and carry with me to this day. It served me as a child and of course brings with it benefits which I must now be willing to let go of. Ultimately this is a decision that means the outside will not rule my inside world. It means I must move out of my life position of being a victim at the deepest level. But how? How do any of us do this?
Like many others, I’ve learnt to compensate for my victim-hood very well. I found NLP techniques, Feldenkrais and any other number of methodologies that have given me hope. The hope is essential, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
The problem is resolved when we make a decision at the highest level that we are responsible. We choose how we respond and feel in each moment. We make an overall decision to this effect, that is irreversible.
This could be one of the single most important decisions of our lives. It has far reaching implications for us and the world around us. Of course we’ll go ‘off track’ sometimes, that’s normal. But to recognise it and get back on track, that’s the work.
One way of doing this is to change the internal dialogue from that of the victim to “I have chosen this feeling of… despondency, stuck-ness, frustration, anger” or whatever it is. At the deepest level, this is owning that every thought, word or action is our choice.
The truth is that we are not at the mercy of our environment unless we allow that; unless we subscribe to and agree to live as victims.
As Jack Jezreel, founder of JustFaith puts it, “The world cannot be changed by love to become just, unless we are changed by love to become whole. But we cannot be made whole without engaging in the work of making the world whole. Personal transformation and social transformation are one piece.”
I believe that my questions are in fact our questions…
So, when will I take full responsibility for every thought, word and feeling I experience? What will it take for me to take responsibility and commit fully to my personal transformation (through love) and that of the world?
As David Orr said, “the plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”
Perhaps it’s time to redefine success as engaging in the work of making the world whole as we make ourselves whole; as we learn to love ourselves and the ‘inner’ and ‘outer worlds’ beyond our own.