Being a victim is part of life, staying a victim is an active choice. In Psychology, having a lot of misfortune, and spiraling out of control in the aftermath, is called “losing locus of control.” When we see ourselves as having power, any power at all, we recognize that when bad things happen, as they will, we have a choice as to how to react. Always give yourself that choice.
Life WILL be unfair. Be ready to confront it head on. When you recognize that you have survived many trials and tribulations, you have the choice whether to credit yourself with victimhood, or survival power. The difference in how you view between these two options is critical. Choose to be a survivor!
The choice is extremely important. In those situations where your self esteem may be manipulated by others, such as in an abusive and one sided power relationship, choosing to see yourself as a survivor will enable you to take control of your life. It is up to you to seize control of what happens to you. There is nothing dishonest about dissolving in a puddle of tears when you feel betrayed, but don’t stay down there if that is where someone manipulative knows just where to kick you.
An example is a woman who is assaulted in her own home, in her own bed. After the trauma, of hospitals, police reports, and getting back into the flow of everyday life, the woman ( or a man in the same situation) has an active choice.
The woman, we’ll call her Cindy, has to be her own best advocate to empowerment. Should she be more careful? Perhaps. She should take a reasonable amount of precaution in home security? Just as she always has. But she should not blame herself. She should not become jittery, and jumpy at every noise. She doesn’t need to live in fear. To do so is to let the attacker win, and why should she ever give in to such fears? Cindy deserves the right to walk alone at night down a shadowy street, she is not a criminal, and her ordeal happened in her own home!
Cindy should take an active role in staying cautious, but she should not take an active role in letting herself be diminished in any way due to the fact she was in her own home and bed. How would she ever be able to have a normal life if she gives in to worry at every little noise? If Cindy can’t ever feel relaxed at home, in her own bed, what kind of life will she have every night for the rest of her life? Family and friends should support her, yes, but they must never “rescue” her in the sense that they have to step in every time she needs to retire for the night. Creating a fear fueled dependency is the worst thing anyone could do for Cindy, if they truly care about her recovery.
If there is any question at all about whether you are standing up for yourself, or whether you are letting yourself stay a victim, take some steps to talk to a therapist, or at least a friend who is supportive. Cindy needs to take an inventory of at least “ten great things about me” worth saving. There are support sites for those who feel completely isolated, and there are always ways to find something, anything, great about your self worth, even if it is that you saved a spider that day. Nothing done with compassion for yourself or another is too unworthy. If you still come up empty when listing ten “wonderful aspects of ME!” take a deep breathe and look at something outdoors. A tree, a cloud, a bird or bee buzzing by in support of life on earth.
In Ecopsychology, even when your last friend in the world has betrayed you, life on earth will not. The process of sustaining life, breathe, food, water, air itself, can be looked upon as a supporter. That is why it is so important to walk outside, or connect to the living world with unconditional love from animals, plants, even entire eco-systems. Compassion for yourself will be your best supporter. Before long, you will see your “dark moment” has passed, and you can connect to others with mutual support. When you are at the end of your rope, everything might look so dismal you only want to see a noose. It is then that you need to realize your strength and worth. It is then when you need to tie a knot and hang on. Don’t forget to thank yourself for taking time to appreciate the world with you in it!