I had a wonderful opportunity to transform victim consciousness this past week that I want to share. It’s a good example of what it looks like to move out of victim and into observer consciousness.
Daniel and I got up early to go on the mountain outing we had planned for our day. We discussed breakfast, at first opting for a quick drive through McDonalds, before settling on taking home-made breakfast sandwiches instead, to eat on our way. Even though we decided to carry our own food, I was still planning to stop for a cafe latte from Mc D’s to go along with my sandwich. The only thing is I failed to tell Daniel my intentions of stopping …
So when my husband drove by the one McD exit (that I knew of) without stopping, my disappointment was palpable. I could taste it. I was so attached to my fantasy about washing down my almond butter & banana sandwich with a cafe latte that I lashed out at my husband immediately for heedlessly disregarding my desire.
“Why didn’t you stop?! You knew I wanted coffee and you drove right past anyway! You never think of me! What I want never matters to you!” I said fervently, proclaiming his thoughtlessness and my disappointment.
Daniel was quick to mirror right back to me my own angry fervor with a blaming remark of his own. His prompt negative reaction was the signal I needed to let me know that I was caught up in a victim mentality. I took pause to take a quick look within my own mind.
At that moment I activated my observer consciousness. I noticed how resistant and insistent on blaming I was feeling, and wordlessly asked myself if a missed cup of coffee was worth the price of disharmony between me and my husband. My immediate answer was no and immediately I was able to start reflecting instead of reacting.
It only took another moments worth of reflecting for me to see that I had not communicated my intentions to Daniel. I had failed to let him know that I was still planning to stop for coffee even though we had made an alternative plan for food; instead I assumed he would know. What a trap for feeling victimized I had set for myself!
I noticed how easily I attach to something and then feel justifiably outraged if it doesn’t pan out. I shared these thoughts out-loud with Daniel in what was now a calm, reasonable voice, and after a few more minutes of processing and ‘unwinding’ our victim thinking, we were both laughing at how quick we can be to claim and justify our victim status.
In the old days, I might have flown into a full blown fit and blamed and attacked Daniel for days for his “obvious insensitivity.” More recently, I would have been more likely to observe my burgeoning fit, but swallow it down, rather than to allow myself such inappropriate thoughts and feelings. I would have stuffed my resentment and gone on internally “fuming” until I found a “good enough” reason to dump my unhappy feelings on a poor unsuspecting Daniel!
This time, however, I allowed my reaction, recognized it as victim consciousness, and owned it – internally first, and then out loud to Daniel. By taking responsibility for it, I could begin to “unwind” the state of contraction I had produced with my negative thoughts about my thwarted desire.
I was fascinated to notice the intensity of physical contraction I was capable of experiencing over a simple cup of coffee! Think of those who spend their whole day, day after day, in a series of such contractions and negative reactions to life! WOW – talk about a stressful way to live! It’s hard to imagine anymore being more stressful than living in such victim consciousness.
From a state of observer consciousness that morning I noticed how my shoulders had drawn up and in as my heart contracted in disappointment and anger. That contracted tension reached all the way down into my gut. As I observed my reaction, I had time to marvel out loud to Daniel about how grateful I felt not to have to live in a constant knot of contraction anymore. Today I have a choice – to remain contracted or release it through sane observation of the thoughts that produce such contraction. My contraction slowly released as I reflected, and peace returned.
The moral of this story might be simply this: It’s not how many times we attach to and are taken hostage by an unhappy thought that matters; it’s how often we catch ourselves in victim consciousness and choose to step back and reflect on it instead that makes peace possible.
Oh, and by the way, I did get my cafe latte that day after all! It wasn’t anytime at all after we had reestablished peace between us that another McDonalds popped up on the horizon and Daniel DID stop this time! 🙂