Defending Our Right To Feel Bad …

tired and without
Creative Commons License photo credit: gogoloopie

I recently had a conversation with a loved one who was bemoaning her present life circumstances. She spoke about how hard life was for her family right now, and about how life had put SOOOOO much on her plate, that it felt unbearable at times, like it was all just too much.

She then proceeded to list all the “hard stuff” that life was “forcing her” to deal with. Her list was indeed daunting; there were pressing health and financial issues, as well as difficult family dynamics mentioned, and the more she talked about it, the sadder she became. Soon she was crying softly.

I listened quietly … hearing plainly the pain that comes from believing our own self-punishing thoughts, and aware too, of the abundance of victim language in her speech. My heart went out to her, and yet I was hesitant in my response, wondering how best to support her towards a higher frequency, and simultaneously thinking how tricky it can be at times to connect with someone we are close to from a place that does not come across as superior, or above it all.

It can sometimes feel like walking through a loaded minefield (mind-field) when we are conversing with a loved one who is unconscious in that moment of just how mired in victim consciousness they are. (Remember we ALL move in and out of victim consciousness throughout any given day – so I don't mean to imply that it never happens to me!) Perhaps the biggest danger in finding our way through this mental minefield is that we run the risk of becoming part of the explosive minefield ourselves!

When we have a personal history with someone especially, it can be tricky indeed to stay grounded in Reality, especially when, in that moment, they are not! The mind automatically wants to take us “back there” (to the childhood drama we played out as children) and so we automatically act as if we are still back there, thus relentlessly playing-out our old, tired, and limiting stories on each other, over and again.

This makes for unhappy trekking indeed!

Even though this particular family member happens to be someone who I consider to be fairly well-versed in, and sincere about practicing, the principles of consciousness, it's still pretty tricky, perhaps even because of her knowledge of consciousness work.

The danger is that in sharing feedback with her she might feel insulted by any insinuation that she is in victim consciousness, triggering an immediate defensive reaction in her and justifying a need for denial!

Such defensive reaction occurs frequently when one is in victim consciousness, and my family member's words had already conveyed how deeply unhappy she was with her life (herself) so to hear someone insinuate that she might be in victim feels to be a huge insult! Why? Because it induces a huge shame attack — after all, she “should know better, she “should be further along than that.” Now the humiliation is even more pronounced. To think that she should be ‘outed' as being caught up in victim consciousness is the ultimate indicator of failure to a self in distress.

And sure enough, just about the time I was thinking these sorts of thoughts, my loved one did indeed appear to get triggered by something I said (I do not remember what I said exactly, but I bet SHE does! ;))

Whatever it was she heard, it was apparently enough to justify her need, and indeed obligation, to defend her own level of consciousness, because she proceeded to launch into an all-out defense of her right to feel bad. (Oh my, do I ever know that one! ;))

She said things like, “I know people (was she insinuating me, perhaps?) think I am having such a hard life because I made wrong choices, that I didn't do it right, and that that's why I have all these problems, but … etc … etc. ” She proceeded to defend the choices she had made that had landed her where she is in life now, and then went on to say, “I know these things happen for a reason … I see the reasons, I've done my work and I understand these things are meant to be, and I know I will be fine. I will fight my way through this …” – and then she began to defend her right to feel bad in earnest – “… but still, these things hurt me and I have the right to feel my feelings about them. I love myself enough to allow myself to feel the pain about the hard things that life has put on my plate.”

But here is what seemed only too plain to me: It was plain to me that her pain was NOT caused by “the hard things life had put on her plate,” (who is this “life” that puts hard things on our plate, anyway?!) but was instead caused by the relentless negative judgment she was aiming at herself for having these hard things on her plate at all! SHE appeared to be the one, in my opinion, who was believing that she blew it! It was her OWN judgment of herself, her self-condemnation, that had her believing life is hard because she had “failed at life.”

This idea of letting ourselves feel our feelings as being a way to be kind to ourselves makes no sense to me these days. (yes, I admit there was a time when I thought similarly.) When the feelings I am feeling are created by my own self-punishing thoughts, by my own low opinions of myself, by my choices, and by my own self-condemnation for where I am in life, how can it be loving to me to “just let myself sit in such feelings?”

It seems much kinder to me to question any thought that generates such painful feelings and re-frame those unkind beliefs into a kinder perception of myself, my life, and my choices, so that I can feel more loving and accepting of myself!

But I do indeed recognize this place on the path! This place of thinking that the words, “nothing happens by coincidence,” means that when life is hard it's because of my own failures.

Try this exercise: Look back on your own life to a particular “choice-point,” a time when you made a decision that had direct impact on where you are now, and ask yourself this question:
Could I have made any other choice than the one I made at that time? Seriously, considering the circumstances of that time, and my own state of consciousness at the time, could I have done it any other way, really?

If the answer is no, (and how can it be otherwise, for why else would you have made that choice?) then how could where you are now be any different than what it is now?

Can you see that where you are right now, no matter your opinion of where that is, (it's all story anyway :)), is where you must be right now to make your own limiting beliefs visible?

But if instead you go on berating yourself for where you are in life, then how are you ever going to make different choices?

We must forgive ourselves for being imperfect, for being where we are, and immediately when we do, we begin to see more clearly so that we can make higher frequency choices that set us on a more self-fulfilling life path.

The simple truth is this: our life circumstances, including all of our relationships, are the way they are to show us our PRESENT belief system. Any degree of resistance we feel towards our life circumstances reflect to us where we are out of harmony with ourselves. Our painful feelings are about that disharmony with ourself and are NEVER the result of our external difficulties.

May we become increasingly loving and self-forgiving, and in that way melt away all sense of a difficult life.







6 Responses

  1. Kate i fell in sync with your reply. It is so easy to get into the ‘savior’ mood and mode.It is very difficult when it is a ‘child’ for you always think you know what is best for them ,failing to see that they have come with their own agenda. Who are we to be a spoke in their wheel? To live and see from the invisible spiritual realm- that is my evolution. Thank you.

  2. Kate –
    I like what you wrote about looking at our reaction to them. In the past, I probably would have tried to be more soothing and tell them they’re wrong … the kid needs a break and what not. At this time, I am more able to see that this is their issue to handle and am trying more to be accepting of their feelings, regardless, if I feel they are being a victim or not.

    I think with increased awareness of self and patterns of thinking like the Victim Triangle and Lynne’s emails, my growth is happening in the way that it can. I think it’s cool to see personal growth.

  3. Nancy,
    That truth of knowing each person has all they need within them to live their own life really does remove us from the enabler/savior mode of operating with them. I see that when we are involved with another who is reeling from their life’s events be it shutting down emotionally or pushing it all out to be heard, that this is only a temptation knocking on our door to decide who this person really is and what resources we believe or don’t believe they have. They are going through what they are going through…but what are we learning about ourselves if we think it is our job to do something to change what is going on in their lives? To me, this is what we are responsible for looking at – our reaction to them. Seeing them as they really are in their complete perfect states can be done without a word all the while they are emoting in whatever way they are emoting.
    The question for me always goes back to : Will I be tempted to react according to what I am hearing and feeling and seeing or do I live seeing and living by what is true in the invisible spiritual realm?

  4. Thank you, Lynne. That was very responsive and helpful. I agree with you on the path ones’ children can follow. Your answer reminded me of something someone said to me as I was struggling with my teenager. She recommended, that instead of looking at my son as a problem to solve, I could say to myself, “He has everything he needs to accomplish what he is here to accomplish.” Boy! That change of thought made a difference, one that he even remarked upon. chill, parents, chill …

  5. Of course, our heart goes out to parents who are witnessing their children act-out in self-destructive ways, and it’s difficult sometimes to resist wanting to intervene or try to make things better for them. It’s important to remember that fixing them is not our job. That said, we can, however, share our hope and experience with them; we can remind these hurting parents with words and thoughts such as these:

    “I trust that there are no wasted lives, no matter how far down one goes, that there are no coincidences in life … that the things we experience in life are necessary for our own growth and awakening. Just as I know I have had to go through difficult times to bring me to where I am today, I trust that your child, too, must need to experience these things in life – whether we understand why or not.”

    The best thing we can do as parents is to hold the belief and expectation for a better day for our children. We hold a vision of them as coming through their ordeals in life wiser, more compassionate, and more in tune with themselves and life than before. We refuse to see them as hopeless, and at the same time we refuse to take responsibility for fixing their problems, or trying to ease their pain. We learn to trust their path, even when it appears to be leading them down the toilet. We remind ourselves that our children, just like ourselves, have the right to experience the full impact of their choices. How else will they grow from their life experiences?”

    There are many who walk down a path of self-destruction on their way to finding themselves. I wrote an article on parenting and the initiatory experience of childhood; you might refer your friend to that article as well.
    Hope this helps,
    BLessings, Lynne

  6. Lynne –
    I am experiencing this right now with a loved one who is being so hard on himself expressing hopelessness about a child that has an alcohol problem, no money and is in her early 30s. I can tell that I have tripped him up a bit sometimes with some of my language. I’m wondering if saying something along the lines of “you’ve made the best choices in love that you could at the time. can you forgive yourself?” He is really seeking someone to blame like his ex-wife, himself …. etc …. Any insights from the experience you wrote about regarding how you might have worded things to derail the victim train?

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