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What do you gain by being a victim?

Updated: Jul 29, 2018

Seems like a silly question, right?! But if you let go of your particular story for a moment, and listen, you may gain quite a bit!

When you lock into the victim role, you stand to gain quite a lot of control. You win all the conversations with friends because if the person you're talking to doesn't validate your righteousness, then they become one of your many foes. You gain sympathies from all who listen. You gain a right to reparations and to assistance so long as you hold onto your wounds.

As Caroline Myss shares in her video "Why People Don't Heal." we hold onto these wounds because of these powers. Maybe I fear that when I am over it, I have no right to ask for help. Maybe I have become used to the attention I get when I am in crisis, and don't know how to interact when there is no one to villainize, no crime to be outraged over. Maybe the creation of my victim story is just more interesting to me than the monotony of my daily routine. For all of these reasons I cling to the story of my victimhood.

Who would I be without that story? How could I live with myself if let them get away with it? Who will punish them if I let it go? Of course terrible things happen. Obviously tragedy is "real." You have every right to be offended, but why would you want to be?

What if you could take back the power you lost when you were raped, beaten, stolen from, or lost a loved one to some terrible crime - the power to forgive is not for the offender, but for the victim to heal. "Forgiveness" can be financial like being forgiven of debt, but the forgiveness of wrongdoing doesn't have to benefit the offender at all. Do you think it matters to a rapist if his victims wither in shame, regret, and anger or bounce back with inner strength? Forgiveness doesn't mean offering up the other cheek necessarily. Could you forgive and move on without allowing the same patterns of offense?

What would it look like if you could choose another story? Imagine stepping out of your skin, out of the offence, and into the role of an observer. From this expanded perspective you can see your hurt, and feel compassion for yourself and what you've been through. If you expand your observations further, perhaps you may glimpse the intention of your offender. In the case of small offenses like social media slurs or offensive speech, I might notice that my villain also suffers. What if that "insult" was intended for amusement, or even as a compliment? You have every right to hold onto your anger, but why would you want to? Have you ever heard that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting your foe to be harmed?

You have the power to choose - use it.

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