We all know the dangers involved with falling into victim mentality. Why? Because spiritual teachers and psychologists and self help gurus have been warning you about these dangers for years. The ego often uses victimhood as a way to ensure it’s own survival or shall we say positive self-image. And the problem with the ego is that it can make positive relationships, which are the heart of our life, really hard if not impossible to pull off. But today, I am not here to tell you anymore about the dangers of victim mentality. I’m here to expose a hidden egoic pitfall that exists to the opposite extreme… Those who are dedicated to never seeing themselves or being seen as the victim. In today’s world there is so much shame inherent in victim mentality that many of us do whatever we can to give the impression that we are NOT feeling like a victim when we are, and that we do not see ourselves as the victim when we do. The raw truth is that we feel hurt and we feel helpless. Our relationships absolutely depend on our ability to be completely authentic about how we feel. So when we cannot be authentic about feeling hurt and feeling helpless, we cannot culture positive relationships. We are instead manufacturing a façade so that we will look good to ourselves and to others.
The unhealthy Ego is concerned with power. Not the good kind of power (like empowerment), the kind of power that needs something to be less powerful in order to feel powerful by comparison. And the ego can gain this power by being the good guy. People who are trapped in victimhood mentality are after the kind of power that belongs to someone being righteous or good. But the ego that is concerned with being righteous or good needs someone to be the bad guy to exist. Similarly, an ego can gain power by being the victor. People who are trapped in victor mentality are after the kind of power that belongs to someone superior and strong. This kind of person cannot ever admit to vulnerability. This kind of ego may be unwilling to admit to any negative emotions at all. Or it may not have a real problem with expressing anger or negative emotional states that it perceives as strong, while refusing to admit to negative emotional states that it perceives as weak. This ego crumbles at the thoughts of admitting to fear and especially hurt. Admitting that their feelings got hurt is like a death sentence. This ego thinks that by denying vulnerability, especially any notion of victimhood, it is a victor. It was won. We get to choose between being in polarity such as right and thus making someone wrong, or good and thus making someone bad, superior and thus making someone inferior, justified and thus making someone unjustified. OR love. You cannot have both. Separation into self and other or love is your basic choice in every moment of interpersonal interaction. Another way of saying this is we get to struggle for power of we get love. The ego that is concerned with being a victor is on a disguised power trip, a power trip that is disguised as virtuosity. We mistake for strength and a power trip that we commend and approve of. I meet with people so often who refuse to acknowledge their powerlessness, pain, disappointment and hurt to themselves or to anyone else because they don’t want to see themselves as succumbing to victim mentality and they don’t want anyone else to see them this way. This is especially true if we are in a ‘you create your own reality’ or ‘positive focus’ community. We will avoid admitting to anything that suggests we felt hurt by someone else because we know it will be turned back on us and invalidated just as fast as we say it. Consider that the willingness to be vulnerable enough to admit to feeling hurt can be the opposite of victimhood. Consider that we can share our experience of feeling hurt, powerless or afraid without blame or attack, but instead simply to authentically share our experience. This allows us to own what is ours and the other person to own what is theirs and create repair in the relationship so that we reconnect with one another.
If you have an ego that is addicted to seeing itself as the victor and never the victim, Ask yourself the following: “How is sharing how you feel, even if how you feel is hurt, the opposite of being a victim? Pretending to feel differently than how we really feel comes at a serious cost no matter whether or not we are doing so to avoid something we have decided is unacceptable. We are out of alignment with our own sense of integrity. We cannot address our real feelings, instead they become suppressed.
The universe is full of contradictory truths. This is because the universe is multi dimensional and so a truth from one universal perspective is “all is well” and at another, where children are losing their limbs to grenades at war, a truth is “the world is screwed up”. Both of these truths are true. So at one level of the universe, it is a truth that there is no such thing as a victim. Sometimes this perspective or truth serves us greatly. At another level of the universe people do get hurt by each other. Just think about the Nazi concentration camps and you’ll see this truth. We run into trouble when we try to use universal truths to invalidate other universal truths instead of learning to hold and honor contradictory truths. What do we know about invalidated feelings? They do not resolve themselves. If we feel hurt by someone else, it is important to own up to that instead of simply invalidate that feeling in ourselves by using the universal truth that there is no such thing as a victim. When we feel hurt by something that someone said or did, it is like a tear in the fabric of our connection. If we do not address the tear that occurred, it will not heal, it will fester. It will turn into resentment and distance between us. If we do address it, in a way where we own our feelings that occurred as a result of whatever happened (rather than telling them what they did wrong and blaming our hurt on them) we open the door for relationship repair, relief, healing and even greater closeness and intimacy.
If you’re scared, say you’re scared. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. If you made a mistake, say you made a mistake. If you feel hurt, say you’re hurt. If you’re in love, say you’re in love. Be as transparent and real as you possibly can be. It is useless to expect yourself to stop caring what other people think. You are going to care, we all are. We all care what other people think. But we have the choice to let that caring imprison us or not. Be real and transparent even with the fear that they will think poorly of you because it ‘looks bad’ because honestly whether it’s today or years from now, you will come to find it is too painful and impossible to live any other way. Don’t believe me? Just try to ‘look good’ for two groups of people with opposing values at the same time. Being vulnerable means opening yourself up to the risk of being hurt because the potential pay off of opening up is greater than the risk of being hurt. In order for connection to happen, we must allow ourselves to be seen and felt and heard. Our capacity for love is hidden like a seed in the vulnerability that we keep so carefully guarded behind our egos and our ego’s many defenses. Ask yourself, if I knew that being hurt was inevitable and there was no way to avoid it, how would I live my life differently? What risk would I take right now that I haven’t been taking? My favorite quote of all time which just so happens to be from Anais Nin really does say it all… "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
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