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I’ve never been one for feeling sorry for people. I mean, my heart will go out to people, I’ll be sad for them, hurt, feel angry, upset, lost. But I never, ever think of them as a victim. They may have endured some terrible things, had some awful things happen to them, but that does not mean that they’re a VICTIM.
They’re just someone that bad s**t happened to.
It doesn’t mean they’re weak or helpless or not good enough, it just means that some bad s**t happened to them.
It doesn’t mean ANYTHING except that they may need a little support & a little reminding of just who they are and what they’re capable of. It certainly doesn’t mean that they’re a VICTIM.
I get really upset when I see people treating others as victims: “oh you poor thing, they did terrible things to you, let me help you!”
No. NO. Absolutely NOT. “Oh man, that was terrible. How can I support you?” has a completely different feel. One comes from the space of the person is a poor, helpless, VICTIM and the other one comes from a space of they’ve got this handled for the most part, let’s give them a bit of a hand in dealing with it, let them know they’re loved and that whatever happened in no way reflects on who they are at the core of themselves.
I am very, very suspicious of people who run around in life, looking for people to help, supporting the downtrodden & the underdogs, because I suspect that a lot of them get a real kick out of ‘helping’ those ‘victims’. They somehow feel morally righteous because they do all this ‘good’ work and help out those who are weaker than they are.
That’s a gross generalisation, I know that, and I also know there are a lot of people who do a lot of good in that arena, but I suggest that THEY’RE the ones who don’t so much see victims as people who’ve had a run of bad luck.
If we treat someone as a helpless victim, we are telling them that they’re unable to look after themselves and that they need someone more powerful & able to look after them & sort their lives out.
If we treat someone as a human being who’s had some rotten things happen to them, the basic assumption there is that they’re powerful in their own right and they just need some support to remember that fact. It’s completely different.
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I was in a weekend mastermind, listening to a mindset coach, doing the exercises she’d given us, and that comment came out.
“Like, really?” I thought (yes, I do talk like a teenager in the not-so-quiet recesses of my mind… sometimes I do, anyway), “What’s that about?” The trouble was, it really rang true. If I look at everything I’ve done in business or in life in general, I have this underlying belief that I need someone else in order to make it work, the reason being, I’m not good enough. At least, I’m not at EVERYTHING. That’s not a negative belief, it’s a fact. While I’m good at some things and great at others, I’m not good at EVERYTHING, therefore, I MUST need other people to supplement that and make things work, right? It’s LOGICAL. It’s common sense.
It’s simply the truth.
Photograph: courtesy of Kira O'Connor
But this was interesting; I’d only ever looked at this kind of thing as a negative belief that I somehow needed to let go of before, but then I began to get an inkling of the awful truth: that belief actually had a basis in FACT. We are all incapable of doing everything ourselves and also incapable of doing it all well. That’s the way we’re made, it’s necessary and there’s nothing wrong with that but what I’d done was twisted it round and turned it into a PROOF, total evidence of something. And then I’d used it to PROVE my ‘deficiencies’ to myself.
Ooh, this was interesting!
Where else do we do this? I remember when I felt like a complete failure, and this wasn’t all that long ago. I KNEW, I absolutely KNEW that I hadn’t done the right thing by everybody and I’d let myself and my family down. I KNEW that. So, what if that wasn’t just something I made up to beat myself up? What if there was actually a grain of truth in there and I just used something that I knew to be true and turn it into something else? Because if I did that, then that would make things so much harder to let go of because I would know that it really was the truth, right? I wouldn’t be lying, I wouldn’t be misleading myself, I’d be stating the truth: I HADN’T done enough, I WAS letting everyone down and I KNEW IT. Regardless of the reasons, regardless of how understandable it was (and it was), regardless of how much other people thought my feeling that way was completely reasonable, a small part of me KNEW that I could really do something, something more than what I was doing right now, and I just wasn’t doing it because I was allowing myself to wallow in pity/sadness/whatever rather than do what I knew I could do.
Now, I need to say here that I understand that there are times when we NEED to allow ourselves the space to grieve or recover or whatever, I know that. And I needed to give myself the space for a while. And there comes a point when we KNOW we’ve gone through what we need to go through and now it’s time to move on.
But it’s hard. It’s difficult to do that. It takes courage to move out of this comfort zone that we’ve created for ourselves, the comfort zone where we’re protected and supported and understood. It’s safe there.
There’s a difference in our experience; that’s what we need to recognise. Where once we were sad/upset/anxious for a reason, after a while, we’re like that because we’re USED to feeling that way, not because we actually are that way anymore. Then we’ll find ourselves saying things like “I can’t do this by myself” or “I’m letting people down” and there will be a kernel of truth in them, enough for what we say to feel like they are true but there’ll be a feeling in us, at some level, we’ll know that’s not fully true and we’ll know it to be an excuse. And we’ll probably carry on behaving like that for a while – sometimes a long while – until the pain of being that way goads us into action.
Consider this: when we’re feeling this way, the amount of pain we’re in, the amount of discomfort that we feel, is an indication of how far away from our true selves that we are. There are always times in our lives when we’re in pain for whatever reason, but prolonged pain is usually the result of something we’re doing to ourselves. If we’re in pain, it’s an indicator that we’re not doing what our subconscious knows we’re meant to be doing. The more pain, the further away we are from where we’re meant to be.
How much pain are you in right now? Is it enough pain to draw a line in the sand and say “Enough! I am doing this no more”? When will you be in enough pain? The danger zone is when you’re not quite in enough pain to do anything about it, and most of us live our lives like that, we tolerate things, put up with them: the job that’s okay, the pay cheque that gets us by, the relationship that’s not quite right but, you know, it’s good enough. The pain of those things is not quite enough to get us to change anything, so we go through our lives feeling like we’re being ungrateful or unreasonable, and putting up with stuff because it’s not worth doing anything about it.
If we’re not ecstatic, if we’re not leaping out of bed in the mornings, jumping into life like a 4-year old on holiday, we’re not LIVING our lives, we’re existing. And we’ve been taught that’s okay, that’s how life is. What if it’s not? What if we’re meant to live life fully and joyfully?
And by the way, the moment we find ourselves saying “yeah, but how do I live? I’ve got to survive, I’ve got a family to feed, a mortgage to pay, what am I supposed to do about those?” The moment we find ourselves saying those things is the moment we’re continuing to buy into those stories that have a kernel of truth in them. There is always a way. Just because we can’t see it from where we are now, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
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Hi! I’m Karen O’Connor, hormonally-challenged, menopausal writer, blogger, self-confessed sarcasm enthusiast, mother of 4, wife of 30 years, destroyer of souls... no, wait, that's just in the mornings...