Battling the Self
There is no such thing as being a victim. This doesn’t mean that people can’t hurt you or do things to you that are wrong. This doesn’t mean that you can’t contract a disease or be caught in a war or in someone else’s fight. This doesn’t mean you can’t be innocently attacked. It means that life is what we interpret it to be. This may seem plausible in certain cases, but hard to swallow in others. The Dalia lama said it beautifully when he stated:
“When you think everything is someone else’s fault you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy”
When we embrace the spiritual path and live our life accordingly, all roads lead back to the self. All challenges can be seen as based on our own personal misconceptions. Every enemy turns out to be only an aspect of ourself. What would happen if every time we encountered a problem, we sought the solution in ourselves. What would happen if we stopped trying to change the external world in order to solve our personal problems and only focused on changing ourselves. Looked at from the perspective of ego, these statements might seem unrealistic. From a psychological perspective it may sound complicated. Taken from the perspective of Soul it is simple, healing and profound.
Let’s look at this from the perspective of Jed, a fictitious character who is made up of a composite of people I have worked with over my years as a therapist and healer.
Life hasn’t been going so well for Jed. He is at odds with his cantankerous boss. His job is stressful, money is tight and last night his girlfriend walked out on him. Everyone agrees that his boss is difficult to work with. Working conditions are undeniably stressful. The company is struggling financially so Jed’s modest paycheck is not a reflection of his value. As for his girlfriend, she is delightful and charming and it is no surprise that Jed fell in love with her. Unfortunately for their relationship, her parents died when she was young and she lives in fear that she will be abandoned again. This leads her to assume that anyone she gets close to will leave her. This fear grew as she and Jed became closer, finally developing into anxiety attacks. She developed an obsession with the belief that if she left Jed the anxiety would stop. Despite some faulty reasoning, in a convoluted way she was correct. By leaving Jed she would no longer suffer from anxiety attacks stemming from the fear that he would leave her. Jed feels powerless in all these situations and sees himself as an innocent victim of circumstances. Why, the ego asks, is Jed so unlucky?
Psychological perspective – with a spiritual twist
Jed is filled with deep insecurities and doesn’t believe he deserves to get what he wants. There are good reasons he feels this. After all his father was an alcoholic and one thing he said to Jed on a regular basis was “You good for nothing fool. You don’t even deserve the roof over your head and the food I give you. If it were up to me I would throw you out into the street.” He became painfully affected by his Father’s anger. After he heard it enough times be began to believe it and one’s beliefs are very powerful. New age thought says we create from our beliefs. I think this is true but not through magic, but through basic psychology – with a spiritual twist. How does this manifest in Jed’s world?
Jed is bright and competent but so hesitant and insecure that he makes people uncomfortable. He was sure he was undeserving and would be fired from his first job – which caused him to make enough mistakes and then apologize so inappropriately that he finally managed to get himself fired. He couldn’t see this and felt unjustly accused, rejected and a victim – all very familiar feelings for him. He defined himself as a victim and therefore acted like one. If he had perceived himself as worthy he would have reacted differently and not only kept his job, but moved up in the company. He had the skills, but unconsciously sabotaged his ability to use them. While looking for a new job, he was offered two different positions. One was with a successful company with great working conditions. The staff seemed friendly and accepting of him, which made him feel like an imposter. He turned them down. If he didn’t even deserve a roof and food from his Dad, how could he trust or accept what these strangers were offering. The second job was with his current company. When the boss offered him the position, he did so with a sneer and some subtly veiled insults – not because he didn’t like Jed. He spoke to everyone that way. Basically, he was just a bitter angry man. Sadly, that hint of mistreatment felt familiar and comfortable to Jed. He took the job. He would have been much better off with the other one.
He made enough to live relatively comfortably. However he was incapable of budgeting, thereby creating financial problems that further proved to himself his inadequacy. He never had any money to do nice things for himself – which he knew he didn’t deserve anyway. As for his girlfriend – the signs had been there right from the start. Every time they got a little closer, she pulled away and hurt him. Unfortunately, the feelings of rejection were comfortably familiar and each time she hurt him, he only convinced himself more strongly that he loved her. Was he a helpless victim or did he just create what he expected?
We as individuals have much more power over our lives than we realize and unconsciously use this power to create what we expect. Jed expects to be a victim so he acts like one, makes his decisions based on what he expects and then helps it manifest. All his life, he has unconsciously chosen situations, jobs and women that would prove to himself that his feelings of inferiority and expectation of rejection were correct. If these unconscious assumptions don’t change he will just make the same choices again, so before he blows up the life he has created, he needs to battle and change his own damaged self concept. In other words, if he wants to live his life consciously as a spiritual warrior, all his battles start and end with himself. So, I will end where I began: there is no such thing as being a victim. There are only interpretations and decisions made from these interpretations. Facing ourself and facing what we hold buried in our psyche is never easy, but it is possible. People can change. It is the essence of what healing is about. As human beings we are willing to look at what is light and easy, but tend to lock away our hurts and wounds below the level of conscious awareness. It is always easier to blame the other person, rather than look honestly at oneself. Hopefully by more fully understanding this process, more people will have the courage to honestly face and when necessary, do battle with themselves. The ensuing freedom from pain will be well worth the battle. We may be our own worst enemy, but we are also capable of being our own best friend.