For much of my life when things didn’t go my way my default mechanism was to find someone to blame. Sometimes I was aware of what was happening. But mostly it was a subtle reaction, a reflex that came from a lifetime of largely unconscious habituation.
It didn’t help that I was raised by someone who lived her life as a victim. As the saying goes, “if it’s not one thing, it’s your mother.”
To be sure, there were very real and painful reasons for her to feel victimized, but there were many others that were simply the by-product of mental illness. Either way, I didn’t have the best role model.
Yet regardless of whether we were parented well, had good teachers or benefitted from strong mentoring, playing the victim card is often the easy way out because it absolves us of accountability. I don’t have to actually confront my pain, shame or fear if I can shift attention to others.
I didn’t get that promotion because of office politics.
That teacher is picking on me.
I couldn’t close that deal because they didn’t give us a fair chance.
My family always treats my brother better.
I have to drink, don’t you understand how much stress I’m under?
We broke up because she didn’t really understand me or is just kind of crazy.
The election is rigged.
Certainly there are times when we are needlessly attacked or just flat out treated unfairly. But far more common are those times when we failed to look deeply at ourselves and our actions. Where we neglected to stay on our side of the street and understand our contribution to the outcome.
Stephen Karpman’s work on his eponymous drama triangle illustrates how this dynamic plays out for many of us. We bounce between victim, rescuer and persecutor (of ourselves and others), all the while failing to see our role in perpetuating the dysfunction, telling ourselves “if only they would change” everything would be fine.
It’s a con.
It would be far easier if I could avoid being the one to change. But the ONLY thing I can do is take responsibility for my stuff, share my truth, accept reality and do my work.
It’s been very humbling for me to become aware of and accept my role in creating or enabling so many problems over so many years.
It’s been harder still to admit that maybe I’m actually the problem.
But first comes awareness and then comes acceptance. Then it’s time for me to choose a different way to be in the world.
I wish there were an easier, softer way. But I got here as fast as I could.