Are You Ready to Stop Being a Victim?

A victim, according to Webster’s dictionary, is a person who has been attacked, injured, robbed, killed, cheated or fooled by someone else, or harmed by an unpleasant event. Everyone gets attacked, injured, cheated, fooled and harmed during their life, if not physically then emotionally. And everyone gets harmed by unpleasant events.  We’re all victims, in moments, to life’s challenges and difficulties—life’s lifeness.

Alex Iby/Unsplash
Source: Alex Iby/Unsplash

It’s psychologically healthy to acknowledge the suffering and feelings of powerlessness that accompany such experiences.

And yet, there are those people who feel like victims all the time, regardless of the circumstances. Those with victim mentality are always being victimized in their own mind.  They maintain a consistent victim identity and see life, perpetually, through victim-tinted glasses.

We all know people who seem to be constantly commenting on some injustice done to them, how others are denying them what they need, want, and deserve, controlling them against their will, making them do what they don’t want to do—how life is against them and the universe is designed to punish them, personally.  Or perhaps, you yourself are someone who experiences life this way?

To always feel like a victim of life, or, to love someone who’s always convinced they’re the victim of life—neither is easy and both are painful.

To illustrate some of the most common forms of victim mentality, here are three cases in point.  Read more…

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inviting-monkey-tea/201801/are-you-ready-stop-being-victim

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Are You On Your Own Side? How to Take Good Care of Yourself From the Inside Out

Have you ever wondered why we’re so bad at self-care, why taking care of ourselves is so difficult for us human beings, and not simply inborn?  Every week, another book comes out on how to take better care of ourselves. So why are we not getting it?

For one thing, our self-care approach in this culture is made out of the wrong fabric, or if not the wrong fabric, one with the wrong texture.  We’re taught that self-care is an external process; it means getting a massage, making time to eat lunch sitting down, taking a walk, putting on our oxygen mask first.  All are valid self-caring actions which serve our wellbeing.  And yet, a far deeper and richer level of self-care exists, one which is not about externally doing for ourselves, but rather about being with ourselves, internally, in a particular kind of way…

Read more:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inviting-monkey-tea/201712/are-you-your-own-side

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Are You Friends With Yourself?

Self-Care is an Inside Job

Have you ever wondered why we’re so bad at self-care, why taking care of ourselves is so difficult for us human beings, and not simply inborn?  Every week, another book comes out on how to take better care of ourselves. So why are we not getting it?

For one thing, our self-care approach in this culture is made out of the wrong fabric, or if not the wrong fabric, one with the wrong texture.  We’re taught that self-care is an external process; it means getting a massage, making time to eat lunch sitting down, taking a walk, putting on our oxygen mask first.  All are valid self-caring actions which serve our wellbeing.  And yet, a far deeper and richer level of self-care exists, one which is not about externally doing for ourselves, but rather about being with ourselves, internally, in a particular kind of way.

The most effective self-care is not about what we do for ourselves but about how we are being with ourselves, the kind of company we keep inside, the flavor of the conversation we conduct with ourselves inside our own minds.  The self-care that profoundly changes our life for the better involves creating a relationship with ourselves that’s infused with kindness, support and curiosity. True self-care, as the word implies, is about genuinely caring about and for how we actually are.

This being variety of self-care, relating with ourselves in a friendly and supportive manner, is not only not encouraged in our culture, but often quite discouraged.  In fact, we are afraid of what would happen to us, who we would become, how we would be judged—if we were to value ourselves and suspend the judgment and impatience with which we relate to ourselves. So, what is it about developing a kind and compassionate relationship with ourselves that’s so threatening?

Am I Selfish?

While most of us would claim that we’re pretty good at caring for ourselves, when it comes to actually treating ourselves, internally, like someone we care about, now that feels selfish for sure. How selfish of me to spend time thinking about me, what I need or want, when so many people don’t have that luxury!  The fear of being judged (by oneself and others) as selfish is what keeps many people from treating themselves as they would a friend, or asking for kindness from others, even when they desperately need it. As one woman responded when I simply asked her how she was feeling that day, “It’s always about me me me!  Too many people have no one to ask them how they are!”

We’re afraid that if we care about ourselves, there won’t be any caring left for others, as if caring were a finite commodity. That is, if we take the time to pay attention to our own experience, we will become so self-involved that we will end up only interested in ourselves, so egotistical that we will stop wanting to ever be kind to anyone else.

In this belief system, our compassion for others is just a façade of sorts, something we do to seem like a good person.  We’re desperately afraid of who we would become, were we to relate to ourselves with friendliness, as if just a taste of our own sweetness would unleash the true narcissistic monster within.  The truth is that it is only when we feel well taken care of, when our feelings have been properly heard and cared for that we have adequate caring resources to offer others. When our well is full, we are our most self-less and can fully experience our goodness, our inherent desire to be of service.

 

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How to Be Kind to Ourselves Through the Holiday Season

The holidays arrive each year with an abundance of expectations. We’re expected to be having fun and feeling joy, to be surrounded by loved ones and a warm, connected family to which we effortlessly belong. We’re expected to be busy and enjoying all sorts of exciting and festive activities, doing special holiday things. In short, we’re expected to be happy… well, actually, not just happy, happier than we are at any other time of the year.

And for some of us, all of the above is true; our holidays meet the expectations our culture sets for us.

But, I am struck by a very strange phenomenon. Every year, I witness firsthand the great chasm between the story we tell ourselves about the holiday season, the cultural mythology if you will, and the truth of the experience that so many people are having this time of year. The disparity between what we’re supposed to be living (and imagine everyone else is living) and what we’re actually living seems to grow wider with each generation of reindeers.

The truth is, many people do not have warm and loving families to go home to, relatives with whom they feel they genuinely belong. Many are not busy with exciting and interesting things to do throughout the season. And the fact that they aren’t having the holiday season they’re expected to have makes them feel even worse about themselves — less joyful and less happy.

There’s not just pressure to be having a great time and feeling loved at this time of year, but also to find (or even better, make) the perfect gift for everyone on our necessarily long list of friends and loved ones. We’re supposed to engineer presents that, while perhaps small in expense, are able to capture and celebrate the essence of each recipient. And finally, we’re supposed to enjoy the process of discovering that unique token to honor the profundity of our important relationships.

But once again, the reality of so many people’s experience, to which I am privy as a psychotherapist, simply doesn’t match these cultural expectations or the narrative we’ve constructed about this season. For so many, the feeling that we need to buy and create gifts for everyone in our life, all at once on an externally-determined date, is overwhelmingly stressful. And if we don’t want to give in the way we’re supposed to give, demonstrate our love and lovingness in the way we’re instructed to do so, we feel inadequate and ungrateful, ill-equipped to be a good person.

So, what is the best way through the season for those who have a holiday experience that differs from the one that our culture has scripted for us?

To begin with, we must throw out the “supposed-to-be” narrative that we’ve attached to this time of year and liberate ourselves from the cultural Kool-Aid in which we’ve been swimming. This narrative can then be replaced by a genuine curiosity for the truth: What is our actual experience of the holidays, not the experience we’re supposed to be having, but the one we are having? Secondly, we commit to being on our own side, to rejecting our inner bully, to stop blaming ourselves for our reality. Instead of blame, we offer ourselves compassion for where we are, and where we’ve gone off-script from the part we’re supposed to be playing in life.

In addition, when we get caught in imaginary stories about what life is supposed to look like, and in comparisons with the make-believe and real others who are having the holiday experience we’re not, we need to remind ourselves of what’s true. So many people are not living the holiday experience that our cultural mythology perpetuates, and many are afraid or ashamed to admit it. For most people, the holidays are a cocktail of emotions, some positive and some painful. It’s almost always both.

We need to stop believing the story of a sustained seasonal happiness, a wholeness and fulfillment that the holidays will offer, and realize that we’re not alone in our human experience. We need to stop telling ourselves that we’re a failure if we don’t meet the expectations that our consumption-oriented culture has set for us. Our human truth is far more complex and layered than the fairy tale we’re holding ourselves accountable to.

Furthermore, we need to take ourselves back to the basics. That is, to remember what this season is supposed to be about (and in this case “supposed to be” is a good thing). We need to reconnect with the values that are at the heart of this season, values that our maniacal consumerism and mandatory happiness have led us away from. We must reorient ourselves towards kindness, compassion, service, love, and simplicity — the qualities that this season’s teachings are all about.

We ask ourselves first, can I offer myself kindness and compassion during this time of year, without expectation and judgment? Can I form a relationship with my own experience (no matter what it is) that is friendly and loving? Can I promise myself my own kind company for this season and all seasons? And can I offer others kindness and compassion, and help them to know they’re not alone? Can I give others my full attention and listen without judgment? Can I be with others in a way that is loving? With these questions in mind and heart, we uncover a safe refuge from the stories we’re sold (and sell ourselves) about this time of year. With kindness for self and others as our center line, our guiding compass, we can be fundamentally okay, even if we’re not okay, no matter what season it may be.

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Meditation for Peace

Nancy Colier leads us on a journey from the head into the body, from the noise and chaos of mind into the stillness that’s always here, now, awaiting our attention.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1073710322

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