How do we escape it? Bad things keep happening to us. An automatic payment went through and our checking account was overdrawn, allowing the bank to dole out any number of fees. Someone cut us off in traffic, so we slammed on the brakes and spilled our coffee. The babysitter cancelled, so we’re stuck at home with the kids. We took on a huge project and it blew up in our face. We were bullied when we were little. We didn’t get enough attention growing up. Men are only interested in having sex with us. Women are only interested in controlling us. Our boss is only interested in paying us the least, while demanding the most. And so on, and so on. There are so many situations in which we are the victim. And no matter how trivial or immense these situations are, we beat ourselves up just the same. We relive them over and over again, as we tell every person we see that day about how unfair our lives are. Most times forgetting that everyone experiences unfairness.
It’s okay to talk about the things that happen to us. It’s a way of dealing with them; a way of working through them. Sometimes we can’t understand why these things happen, and talking about them with someone else can help us make sense of them—even if it’s only to come to the conclusion that bad things just happen. But good things happen too. Have you ever parked and gone to pay the meter, only to realize there’s still time left on it? Have you ever won a contest or scholarship of some sort?
Despite many of the unpleasant experiences we’ve had and will continue to have, don’t you think we’d be happier if we focused on the good things that happened to us, rather than the bad? Think about it. Your friend, the one who always complains… you can only listen to them so much before you stop asking them to go out to lunch. Now ask yourself, “Am I that friend?” Granted, the braggers have something to learn too. But there’s a balance — a happy medium, if you will. If you’re interested in progressing beyond self-victimization, treasuring the good times and accepting the bad times is all you can really do. If we focus on the bad, we continue the vicious cycle of negative feelings. If we accept it and only remember it to inform future decisions, we’ll start to free ourselves from the shackles of negativity and the perpetuation of self-victimization. If we focus on the good, we open ourselves up to positivity. This is something we have to accept and move beyond as well, because living with our head in the clouds helps no one.
Life keeps moving forward, and sometimes moving forward with it is one of the most difficult things to do. Sometimes victimization is comforting, because of the attention we get. Whether we share our story with someone and receive sympathy, a hug, attention, a gift, whatever… we get something out of it. Even if it’s someone’s lack of sympathy, it’s something to us, because we use it to fuel our victimization. We also get attention from ourselves. We think, “Man, it’s been a really rough day, I deserve this drink/manicure/new hand bag.” We use our self-victimization almost as a way to reward ourselves, but we don’t think of it like that. We think that the world is unfair and we’re the only ones left that will do something for ourselves, like we’re the only ones we can count on. Rather than just taking life as it comes and indulging when the moment is most opportune, we remain victims of these situations and moreover allow ourselves to become victims of the society that claims to have the fill for our void — a tangible, over-priced, service or item that has nothing to do with the experience.
So, how do we escape it? Something we’ve never really lived without? I’m not sure we can. I haven’t talked to anyone that hasn’t let bad things get to them. The only solution I can come up with, isn’t really a solution at all. It’s more of a way of thinking; a way of interpreting it all in such a way that we slightly remove ourselves from it. If you’ve spilled your coffee on yourself after being cut off in traffic, think about how comical the situation might be if it were in a sitcom. All of a sudden, it doesn’t feel so daunting. It becomes something that happens to everyone, and when you show up to work with coffee all over the front of you, you might get a few chuckles, along with a couple of, “Oh! I hate it when that happens!” If your experience is incredibly more complex and intense, it can be much harder to move past. If you were abused as a child, that is something that never leaves you. It’s something that is ingrained in your being. But it’s over now. It hasn’t happened for a very long time. If you think about it as a movie you saw when you were younger, and remove yourself from it, you’re given a sense of displacement. It’s easier to understand in the context of a movie. It becomes something that happened to someone else. You still understand that it’s your burden, but now you see that you share that burden with many others. You can embrace it, and move past it.
Don’t let the abusers, the traffic cutters, the banks, or the babysitters affect your happiness. They exist with their own problems and focusing on the experiences that they took part in will never fix the way you feel. You were a victim once, but every time after the initial experience that you allow it to hurt you, you’re a volunteer. I say volunteer for happiness and change, because that is what matters. Turn the ill-fate into a powerhouse of positivity, and see how much happier you become. I promise.
Natasha Guimond | College for Creative Studies | www.natashaguimond.com
photo credits: Natasha Guimond