Most people think that a victim, like an “addict,” is a real person: “someone who has been hurt in the past.” To me, though, a victim is simply “someone who does not yet realize his or her own power.”
When you’re hurt, you naturally feel pain—you feel negative or bad about it in some way. But if you realize your own sovereign power over your thoughts and emotions—and, therefore, your body and behavior as well—you don’t get caught in the thought-cycle trap of “victimization.” Once you begin to label yourself a “victim” (or allow someone else to label you!) and you identify with that mindset, you then begin to produce the behavior and circumstances—relationship problems and all—that you think a “victim” is supposed to have.
It’s important to understand that all of us, although we’re individuals, are the product of our culture. The idea of a “victim” is what some Jungian folks might call a “cultural archetype.” Since birth, we’ve all come into contact (either in our personal experience or through TV, movies, stories, etc.) with someone—often a fictional character!—who is identified as a “victim” of some external circumstance or event. These people tend to have certain mindsets, behaviors and problems: all negative! For whatever reasons (which are unique to the individual), we might identify with that person—especially if it’s Mom or Dad or another person close to us when we’re learning as a child how to operate in the world. People are copycats, especially when we’re young.
Why does one rape victim overcome the negative effects of the experience, while another never seems to get over it—letting that experience reduce the quality of her future relationships and behaviors? The difference is on the mental level, the level of thoughts and emotions. Our emotions follow our thoughts, and “self-powerful” thinking results (eventually) in positive, powerful emotions and better circumstances. On the other hand, “victim” thinking produces weak, negative emotions, which then bring us into negative situations that reinforce that thinking.
To overcome or avoid “victim” thinking, I think it’s important first to recognize that we have ultimate control over our own thoughts and how much negativity we will allow to determine the course of our lives. We allow our own “victim” mindset! Second, I think it’s essential to let go of that terrible thing that happened in the past. You’re not that person now, and the harm doesn’t have to happen to you continually—unless you’re in the habit of replaying that event on the movie screen in your mind.
That movie screen produces your future!
The best way that I know of to let go of pain is to have an emotional release. “Deep” crying—the kind that connects us with that original pain, not the “oh, woe is me” kind—helps us to overcome negativity and let it go. If we learn not to let these bad things attach to us when they happen—if we can release them and get on with life—then, in my opinion, we never have to fear being a “victim,” no matter what negative events might befall us.
Eventually, we learn that our “victim” mindset produces more victimization in our experience, and that moving beyond that mental dis-ease frees us from the real-life circumstances that reinforce that unhealthy mindset. The inner produces the outer.
So, in a nutshell, a victim is a person with a “self-powerless” mindset that they don’t yet know how to get out of. When they get out of it, they cease to be a victim! The truly strong people are those who refuse to let events or circumstances break them on the inside: those who have moved beyond seeing themselves as “victims.”
(Written in 2007)