rom the moment Caroline sat down, she began with great animation to detail the innumerable injustices in her life, and how everyone had hurt her deeply. Within twenty seconds I said, “This will not help you. You’ve told this story hundreds of times.” Other people had previously told me about her stories.
“You need to understand that—” she said.
I interrupted firmly. “I've heard it all before, my dear.”
“But you can’t understand me until—”
“There isn’t a single injustice or injury that you could tell me in this moment that I haven’t heard from you or someone else. You’ve been hurt a LOT, you’re very afraid of being hurt again, and you’re very angry about it. I got it. I just described your life. The details don’t matter much.”
“Look at me. Look into my eyes and FEEL what I’m telling you right now. You don’t need to talk about your pain or victimhood or the injustices in your life anymore. It simply doesn’t work. YOU have already proven that with your own experience. So I’m giving you a choice. You can choose to listen to me and trust me—completely—right this minute, without arguing, resisting, complaining, nothing—only listening and trusting. That’s your first choice, and I’m not telling you what you SHOULD do. Not at all. But the second choice is to leave.”
“You’re throwing me out?!”
“Oh no, not at all. But if you choose to keep acting like a victim—telling your story over and over—you simply don’t need me for that. There are many other people who would be only too happy to listen to your stories, even to sympathize with them. Actually, the trees in my backyard wouldn’t mind either. They’ll listen all day and night, for years. I’m just saying that if you want to tell your stories, you can do that with much more willing listeners than me. So, choose.”
She chose to trust, and as she spent the next four hours with me, she didn’t complain once. I loved her and taught her. She listened and felt the love. For the next several days people asked her what had happened to her, because her face had changed so much.
People really do need to tell their story once or twice to loving people, because when people feel truly understood by someone, they find it easier to believe that that person loves them. But telling victim stories eventually becomes a self-destructive spiral. We need to help such people stop telling their stories and instead feel the love that will heal the wounds that are destroying them.
Learn how to truly love others and give them what they need.