This idea of victimization and mastery has been on my mind for awhile now and I’ve hesitated to write about it because I don’t want to come off as insensitive. I was recently at a conference and had some really good conversations about it, so I thought this might be the time to write. I was also recently robbed so I thought that may be an appropriate story to share too, for the purpose of this post.
What I really want to say is simple – we are not victims, ever. Now I realize this statement alone is heavy and probably will evoke strong reactions, but I’d like to elaborate. Of course I recognize that there are horrible types of suffering in the world, pains out of our control and circumstances that we don’t directly ask for. Just like with every other event in our lives though, there are opportunities. Even in the worst circumstance there is opportunity for growth, knowledge and development. If we can recognize this opportunity, then we are never victims. The world is not happening to us. Situations may exist, but what I am referring to is our perception, reaction and interpretation of these situations. What we choose to take away from the situation, and how it shapes who we are, is where our power lies. We have the choice to be the victim or the master.
We can see examples of victimization vs. mastery in the most horrific of stories and we can see examples of this in our everyday life. For example – The recently made famous story: I Am Mala, tells of a girl with unprecedented resiliency over her situation. I encourage you to read the story but quickly summarized; this girl comes back to advocate for the rights of her community and her nation even after serious violence towards her. Even after an attempt on her life she still chooses to see past this and that her cause for bringing education, peace and equality is worth the risk. This resiliency is founded by perception. Her perception pushes her through a seemingly horrific situation, and by all accounts it is. However, her choice of response to her situation makes her the master of it, not the victim.
We see other examples in our every day lives where the immediate reaction may be of victimization. Examples such as; the person who cuts in front of you in line or cuts you off on the highway, the coworker who expresses anger towards you for seemingly no reason, the family member who avoids your calls, the spouse who doesn’t follow through with an agreement, and the examples go on and on. Fortunately these are all opportunities to look at the bigger picture and to decide if your perception will be one of victimization or mastery.
The Victim at Work
So as I said, I was recently robbed for the first time in my life. I’ll admit my reaction in the first couple days was definitely victimization. And the reality is that I was a “victim of a robbery.” Possessions were stolen from me, that did happen. But I still have the choice of how I interpret the situation and what kind of identify I take on because of the situation. The kind of victimization I’m talking about has to do with the response to what happened, not what actually took place. To hold the identity of a victim for too long is dangerous. Now I could have certainly wallowed in my own anger, hate, frustration and self pity, but I’m confident this wouldn’t have produced anything for me. So after about two days, I switched hats.
The Master at Work
Instead of feeling horrible about the situation I started to ask myself questions. Questions like –
What is the lesson I can take from this?
What does this teach me about what is valuable to me?
How much worse off am I really?
How does this offer me an opportunity to see all that I DO have?
Most importantly – what kind of perception and identity am I choosing and how is this serving me?
So here is what I came up with: One of the lessons I took is to be more mindful and observant of my environment. What I was able to identify about value was helpful too. The things that were taken from me were important, and even sentimental/irreplaceable….but the truth is that they are just things. I still have a great place to live, wonderful family and friends in my life, an exciting developing business, I’m in good shape, a good car and the list goes on. I have everything I need and am safe. Lastly, looking at how my perception is serving my situation, there is no question of which perception is constructive and which is destructive. Through choosing to master my situation I am forging ahead, not only letting go of the negativity that surrounds the situation, but pulling the lessons that can be drawn. There are always lessons.
So next time you are faced with a situation that makes you feel anger, hate, pity, self doubt or anything else that is destructive to your overall development, ask yourself: “Am I the Victim or the Master?”