I have written a great deal about the nearly universal plague of victimhood in the book Real Love and Freedom for the Soul. In this blog I will describe a common and practical illustration of this condition.
Leila has been feeling and acting like a victim all her life. As a child, this was easy to understand, because she WAS victimized by the emotional abuse and abandonment of her parents.
It was painstaking, but Leila finally realized how much she acted like a victim, and how much it was affecting her in the present—even though the victimization of childhood was long past. “I really want to stop this victimhood thing,” she said. “It makes me unhappy and screws up my relationships.”
“So why don’t you just stop it?” I asked.
“I think my old wounds aren’t quite healed, so sometimes I automatically react to wounds in the present, instead of making a choice to let them go or react in some other more productive way.”
“Yes, very good,” I said. “Another reason you don’t quit the victimhood is that you get something from it.”
“Every victim immediately gets the attention of others. Walk into any room and tell people how someone hurt you, and you get a response much greater than if you described almost anything else you did that day.”
“Yes, I have done that many times. What else do I get from it?”
“Acting like a victim fosters enormous confusion, which contributes toward a lack of responsibility on your part.”
“How is that?”
“Let’s take a recent conversation we had. You were complaining about your boyfriend, the place where you lived, your job, your health, the injustices of the government, and more. I suggested to you that all that complaining wasn’t contributing to your happiness, and you immediately defended yourself, became irritated, and distanced yourself from me.”
“You’re about to defend yourself now. Did that conversation happen or not?”
“And amidst all the complaining, you created quite a tangled ball of yarn. The picture of your life became confusing, didn’t it? And in all that confusion, how could you possibly be expected to come up with a solution? In fact, people often avoid solutions just by saying, ‘This is so complicated.’”
“I don’t do any of that on purpose.”
“Of course not. It’s just a reaction to pain, and reactions are rarely conscious. Confusion is actually a comfortable place for you. We’ve talked about your childhood before. Remember how your mother would SAY “I love you,” but then her behavior didn’t match her words at all?”
“That was very confusing to you. And the confusion never cleared, so you became somewhat accustomed to it. You’re so used to confusion that when you’re with me you actually create it. I will tell you I love you, for example, and even though my behavior DOES match my words, you re-create the familiar confusion by finding something wrong with my behavior or tone of voice, anything that makes me like your mother. And then you can’t feel my love. Your confusion as a child was real. Your confusion with me as an adult is fabricated.”
Nearly all of us were genuinely victimized as children. Simply not receiving enough unconditional love is horribly traumatizing. Regrettably, we become familiar with this pattern and continue it as adults. When people do anything that resembles the trauma of the past—or, in some cases, if people do nothing at all—we feel the same victimhood, and then we respond with the protecting behaviors that make us miserable and isolate us from everyone.
We can learn to see our victimhood. We can find the love we need. With this loving and teaching, we can find the happiness we really want.
Replace your anger & confusion with peace and happiness.
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