February 25

Victimized vs. Feeling Like a Victim

February 25, 2015

Stress Management

Charlotte wrote to me, “For as long as I can remember, I have felt like I was a victim of Life. You once said that our thoughts and feelings were taught to us by other people, so the pain we feel is really not our fault. You said that we are now responsible for changing our lives, even though other people created the mess we’re in. It seems like a really bum deal.”

I responded:

“I agree. It does seem completely unfair that now you have to create love and happiness from what you were given, which was often pain, suffering, criticism, attacks, dismissal, abandonment, and more. It really does. But it’s also true that the people who wounded you will not be the ones to heal your wounds. They simply don’t have the capacity to love you, so you are responsible for finding the love you need, no matter how unfair it might seem.

“How can you see this in a way that you can move forward from this apparently unbearable injustice? You might begin by seeing things differently:

“1. You're RIGHT that life has been hard in a great many ways that you didn't cause.

2. That is the very definition of being victimized.

3. You HAVE been victimized. In other words, you have been traumatized against your will. YES, you're right.

4. But it’s also true that being affected by the behavior of other people is the very price we MUST pay to live in a world where we all get to make our own choices, where we get to make mistakes in the process of learning. If we want to learn and become happy, confident, strong, and loving, there is NO OTHER WAY to accomplish that than for all of us to make our own choices, and that means other people WILL hurt you—although it’s rarely intentional—and YOU will hurt other people too.

5. Knowing this, you can now choose to keep learning and keep making choices even when they hurt people, and you can accept that other people are doing the same. You can choose to ACCEPT how things must be—to accept the effect other people have had on you when they were thoughtless, unloving, unkind, and more. Because THAT is how they learn.

6. You can recognize that you have been victimized—and will be again—but that you do not have to FEEL victimized.

7. Why? Because now you have people who love you. You can focus on your having what you’ve always wanted and be happy, instead of focusing on what’s been done to you.”

Recovering from a life of pain and unhappiness is like moving to a new planet. The gravity is different, as is the soil, the atmosphere, the terrain—everything. It’s a lot to learn, but we can do it. Many thousands have.

PCSD

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