The Victim Mentality (How to Rewrite Our Stories & Change Our Roles)
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- 04-15-2008, 10:25 PM #1
At long last, my post on the victim mentality & and letting go of our roles. I have been waiting a long time to write this because in a way it is a tribute to how far I have come and how much I have had to overcome to be here with you right now as the author. Part of the reason this took me so long was because this was very emotional for me and I had to determine how much I was going to share with the internet. As I have become more comfortable with my past I have begun to be able to talk more about it and I actually tell students on my bootcamps pretty intimate details about who I am and how I got here. I want them to know if I could overcome all the adversity that destroyed my childhood, and a good part of my identity, to be a success they can do it also.
The Victim Mentality (How to Rewrite Our Stories & Change Our Roles)
I would like to start with some definitions. People often ask me why I put definitions in my posts; I do this because I think if we are going to discuss something like mature adults we all need to agree on the important terms. I want what we talk about to be definitive, not subjective. So without further ado let’s get started. These are all definitions found on Wikipedia.
What is a victim? An unfortunate person who suffers from some adverse circumstance.
What does it mean to have a mentality? A habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations.
What is a role? A role or a social role is a set of connected behaviors, rights and obligations as conceptualized by actors in a social situation. It is mostly defined as an expected behavior in a given individual social status and social position. Roles and mentalities are very similar and they often walk hand in hand (ie you will have certain mentalities based on the roles you play).
What does it mean to be a hero? The main character in a story, who drives the plot, or around whom plot is structured. Often, but not always the protagonist.
What is the ego? In Psychoanalysis the conscious mind, self: your consciousness of your own identity
What is an archtype? An originally Jungian term referring to the primordial and universal images that he believed underlie and are manifested in myth, symbol, religion, art, and personal understandings of the world, and "evoke deep and sometimes unconscious responses".
Now that we have our definitions straight let’s get started shall we? We have a dictionary definition of what it means to be a hero but I would like to reframe that. I believe the hero is the person who is the author of his own story and reframes his wounds into a source of power. At one point or another in our lives we have all been emotionally hurt. I am not here to judge who had it better or worse. What I am here to say is that by looking at the traumas you experienced you can find both strength from within yourself and compassion for others who have either experienced the same situation, or who are also victims (remember the definition is “some form of adverse circumstances, it doesn’t specifically say what”).
A lot of times I get asked via private messages (or in the original thread) well how do I accomplish xyz (whatever the subject of the article is). I will try to make this point over and over about how to accomplish the reframing of your stories and thus the roles you play in them. I believe this will be by far my most important contribution to the community. This is really important guys so please take it in doses if need be.
You begin this process by shedding your metaphorical skin (much like a snake does because the body has outgrown it). The former stories are part of you yes, they always will be, but they don’t have to define you, you don’t have to be limited by the roles of your previous story (more on this later). Once you release yourself from these roles (which are limitations by the very fact that they are definitions), you become empowered to weave a new yarn. The new story in which you are no longer the guy who doesn’t get girls, the high school loser, the child whose life was destroyed by his parents, etc.
These roles you have decided to play are merely arbitrary labels that you have created to explain who you are and what happened to you. These personal tales are just stories you have created, they ARE NOT YOU. Whether the stories are a byproduct of your own creation or someone else created them for you, you confuse them with reality. This is where suffering begins. Buddha said attachment is the root of all suffering. I am not going to get into a philosophical debate about Buddhism (though I think it is super interesting and have made a study of both it and Zen). In this case we are attached to labels, roles, (whatever), that affix to our story. These characters are like demons who will never go away and constantly want to be fed and nurtured. We MUST exorcise them.
See here is the issue; because we really believe this (remember our definition of mentality), the demons will not go away. They literally hover over us, the guy who wishes he had done something different and wonders why he is alone, the haunting of a relationship that destroyed us (this actually leads people into the community; at least it led me and many of my students). Side note, I believe if someone were to ever conduct a survey on what drives people into the community I believe it would be the haunting by the great love they once had and how they are unable to duplicate that. They are scared they will forever be alone, that they got “lucky” that one time. That’s just a guess based on talking to 100’s of students. These demons manifest as voices in your head and no matter how hard you try you can’t silence them. They just won’t leave you alone.
There is an old riddle that says what eats and eats and eats until there is nothing left to eat? The answer is a fire. The problem with our stories, these roles, and the demons is we are more than willing to feed them. There is ALWAYS more to eat. There are plenty of people in their 50’s who wish they had been a better parent, people in their 20’s who want to do high school over again, and the ghost of the love that we lost and will not stop haunting us. We are our own worst enemy. We sit there and think and think and beat ourselves up. We are way too hard on ourselves. One think I teach in the inner game portion of my bootcamps is the power of forgiveness; the power of forgiving yourself and others. I might write an article on that. Two of my next topics that people will vote on are gratitude and forgiveness (along with the other 3 that never seem to go away lol).
All these stories are logical rationalizations for why we act the way we do. It’s not my fault… It was my parents, I didn’t go to a good enough school, I was born too short, not pretty enough, not rich enough, etc. Now here comes the mindfuck #1. As long as we cling to these stories and believe they are real all we are doing is feeding the ghosts and we are not really healing. At first glance this might appear counterintuitive… It might seem like we are healing because we are dealing with our emotions but we are not. We are stuck in repetitive cycle of self abuse that does not help us change anything.
How do we craft new stories? We can start by recognizing how experiences in our childhood helped mold us while we were malleable. A lot of these experiences are via by our parents, peer group, location and our culture. It is time to outlive that story and to craft a new one that is more aligned with a Hero’s journey. You can let go of the guy who was not successful with women, the parent who made errors while parenting or the child who was victimized because his parents were unable to parent. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day.
I am not trying to trivialize how hard this is. These stories are so engrained and internalized in us that when we rethink them we might actually regress. This is because we falsely believe that these stories are who we are. While thinking about his story of victimization the confident CEO might actually slump his shoulders and walk with his head down as he recalls tales of abuse at his parent’s hand. This is one of the reasons we focus so much on body language in bootcamps. Her words (yours also), can lie, but here body never can (unless she’s a stripper and then we are talking about very specific exceptions not the general rule.)
Whatever view you have of your role in your story you will embody and people will respond to you in kind. Especially women who are much better at reading non verbal information then men. They have to… it’s a survival skill. Don’t believe me? Test it out, wait till some guy hits on one of your female friends and creeps her out. Ask about if she felt the guy was creepy and if so why? Most of the times you will get a response like, ”I don’t why I feel that way… he just was.” What is really happening is that he is inadvertently tripping off the creepy alarm by a combination of things. She doesn’t even know why but in her mind she has enough data to come back with that judgment, it’s an unconscious process which is why she is unaware of it.
Ready for our second mindfuck? Let’s talk about why we cling to our stories. Why why why? We cling to our stories because we actually benefit from them all the while they are also causing us suffering. Huh? Usually the main payoff is the lack of need to change and the ego’s glory of being a victim. People are creatures are inherently lazy, most people do what they do because they HAVE TO DO IT. Not because they want to. Pop psyche 101 says humans align with pleasure and move away from pain. Humans are also creatures of habit and most fear change (a great book to read if you have this problem is who moved my cheese). In Buddhism they say the only constant is change (this goes along with why we suffer because we are attached to things; situations, roles, events, people, etc).
It is easier to stay bad with girls (for a variety reasons, one is how close this skillset is to the gender role of being a man. Another is how much honesty it takes to fix all the different parts of your life to be successful with women. To get really high quality girls so much has to be right… I really believe pickup is the pinnacle of self-improvement.) See, to admit we need to be better with girls we first have to admit some kind of deficiency. That would mean work and new patterns and the shattering of our ego’s little notion of comfort. Also it is way easier to blame everything and everyone under the sun then it is to man up and say no mas.
Finally another reason is you would have to release the ego’s need to be in charge of telling the story. Hang tight we are about to go for a ride. The ego is the very self itself (weird saying self twice in a row but alas I digress). The ego has a super powerful drive to stay alive… it will just about do anything to ensure its survival. In this case it will even fight off the very healing you are trying to accomplish when you feed the demons. It needs to be right. Let me provide an example. Ever argue with someone and in your heart of hearts you wanted to stop fighting and find common ground? Why didn’t you stop fighting? Probably because your ego insisted that you were right (had more knowledge, had the better argument, whatever) and thus you felt you needed to be right. You HAD TO HAVE that validation. Your ego has played a big trick on you, it has tricked you into thinking that if you let go of your stories you will lose your identity. Well if I am not the victim, the xyz, then who am I? Who am I???
What’s scary is that our stories are really the equivalent to a death sentence for the hero within us. They demand that we fit into very narrow boxes and whatever doesn’t fit in that box we scrap. Am I pickup artist? God , I hate that term. I am a guy who is pretty social and good with girls yes but that doesn’t define me. I am also, a son, a friend, a lover, a teacher, a student and so many other things. What / who I am is an enigma and with each day (and each bootcamp weirdly enough) I learn more and more about what and who that is.
Most roles have to end, if you define yourself as a pickup artist will you really be doing pickup at 60, 70, 80? If you are a teacher won’t you eventually retire, if you are a parent wont your kids grow up and eventually leave home? How will your roles shift then? You will have to create a new identity and this can be so scary for some. People really fear change.
Mindfuck #3 (not that we are counting or anything lol); every character in your story presents false evidence of who you are. When you insist in seeing others in only the role you feel they play in your story (parent, employer, student, sibling,) you lose out on the opportunity of seeing who they truly are. This is one of the reasons I get so many good reviews. I don’t just see a student, I see a human being who I can find good things about and who I can learn from and bond with. It is not a mistake that more than once people have written about me they feel that they have made a lifelong friend. That’s because they have. That’s because I don’t see just see limit myself t seeing them in the student role and nothing else.
Every story has characters that play roles. Assuming the role of the hero means to drop the roles that limit us and that we identity with and the beliefs they hold to be true (especially limiting beliefs if nothing else but better to drop the entire role). I saw someone with a quote on another messageboard I am on that said this: Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. This is a classic example of the true self is always coming through and why roles that we identify with that our negative are toxic to our very existence.
What defines a role? A role is a hodpodge of beliefs and expectations (this could also be called a mentality). When these expectations are not met by others we have a strong emotional reaction (usually a negative one). When we scrap our roles we can just do and just be (the power of now). We no longer take things personally because we transcend our ego’s incessant need for both validation and attention (easier said than done I know).
Why should we shed our stories? It seems like it is a lot of work (it is!!) The best reason to let go of your stories is because in your stories you can never truly heal. You are too attached. Your terrible siblings will continue to be terrible, you will continue to be bad with girls, you will continue down the path of negativity because that is what the story is built around. It is a self fulfilling prophecy.
However what you can do is create an epic tale of a hero’s journey because if you are going to write a story it might as well be grandiose (go big or go home). Let them be empowering tales. My old story was one of mistrust, hate, of having my childhood ruined, of thinking I was black while I was white to going back to black to white. A story of getting beaten up, of parents throwing me away, of people who I loved and trusted destroying me. I use to think God had it in for me man. My new story is one of triumphing adversity of hitting rock bottom to rise from my ashes like a phoenix (which is why I identity with the symbolism so much). A story of how some kid 5 7 165 at grey hair has become a MM / Lovesystems Instructor (and a pretty good one based on my reviews, sorry ego moment lol). My story is one of hope, of love, of seeing the best in my students and the best that life has to offer. I was never a victim, I see that now. These new stories are way better than the old ones. The ones where I was so damaged that I thought I could never trust people again.
I want to say again that NONE OF THE STORIES ARE TRUE. They are just tales you have created to explain reality from an egocentric point of view. They live on (as do the demons) because you continue to live in the past (in the present, living in the past in the present, sounds weird but very true). You continue to be the guy who was hurt by his parents, who was cheated on by his ex, is an underappreciated employee, etc. Even the new empowering stories are not really true. They will help you navigate the path of life but they are not the path itself. (The map is not the territory NLP heads make some noise!!!)
It’s only when we create these new empowering stories that we can truly begin to heal. We can drop the story of how our mom was selfish and how things could have turned out differently if only if. If only if is a virus IMO (along with cocky funny but alas I digress). Maybe a new positive story is one of how our mother taught us the value of being independent (does anyone see the reframing going on here?) We can think about our stepfather who was cruel and judgmental and script a new story of how when we are judgmental and cruel we will hurt people. How in a twisted way this person taught us to value tolerance.
You know if more people put together these stories we probably could just dump most psychotherapy. I suggest you try Anthony Robin’s 10 positivity challenge. Sinn told me about this. For 10 days you have to reframe every negative thought that comes into your mind within 2 minutes. If at any point you can’t do it (say 9.75 days in) you start at day 1 again. Mad hard but an amazing experience, I just reframe reframes now if that makes any sense. If you look at my field report from Atlanta where I had the first shit test that was just me being me. I didn’t think “how am I going to past this test”. I don’t have to try to pass tests. I just exist and pass them. Kind of zen I guess.
Now we are about go even deeper. Let’s talk about the 3 archetypal characters in our stories. Before we can begin healing, (and really that is why I wrote this article, to help others heal, I constantly have students who will benefit from this), we need to be aware of these stories that we are telling ourselves. Most people don’t even know that these stories exist (you do because you are reading this but to the average person they are destination clueless). You might, even though you are reading this, not be aware of just how tightly your ego will cling to the stories. You might get defensive and think you have a right to hold on to your “truths”. You might think thoughts like that you truly have been abandoned, or victimized, betrayed, hurt, destroyed, etc. If you can do what it takes to let go of these limiting roles you can change your life man. You can reinvent yourself and create a story that is empowering, one of hope, overcoming of negativity one that will not only change you but how people react to you.
There are 3 main archetypes that show up again and again as reoccuring roles in victimizing / disempowering stories. These 3 characters form what is called the triangle of disempowerment. These characters are the victim, the perpetrator (bully) and the rescuer. A classic example would be a child who needs to be taken into child services, that is the victim. The bully is the parents and the rescuer is the child service worker.
As I said earlier people work in patterns. When we play the role of victim in the triangle we create bonds with both other characters but we are creating bonds over trauma. In classic literature on victimization these are commonly referred to as trauma bonds . We are due to act out these roles over and over again because in a sense it is easier to do this then change. It is the same reason that you talk to people in dysfunctional marriages or relationships and ask why they don’t just leave and they sigh and look at you with this look of the walking dead and go they just can’t. Bullshit, they just won’t. The best odds of healing are when people step out of these roles but that is way easier said than done. We are more comfortable defining ourselves by what has happened in the past.
When we retell (reframe) our stories we can begin to uncover the powerful and empowering messages that these stories have for us. It is then that we begin to forgive and begin our journey of healing. Unfortunately as we change people will not necessarily change with us and may drift out of our lives. This has come up time and time again on the forum, whether it is afc friends who don’t like the idea of you doing approaches and not drinking as much. Or friends who use to belittle that don’t like the idea that you are no longer engaging in self deprecating humor to the girl who has been treating you poorly and now does not like that you are no longer accepting her second class behavior. If you look to others to foster this and encourage you to explore your new self you might find yourself disappointed. This is why you have to align yourself with likeminded people (like people found in lairs although some of those people need to heal also). I have met 2 people from this board via the wing forum and I can say that both are still my friends and one of them is a best friend now. That being said I have heard mixed results about lairs and the wing forum (I can’t comment on lairs because I am not associated with one).
We may have issues with a school teacher who is a nympho or likes BDSM or dj / promoter who is also a volunteer at a hostile or any other polarity of roles. However once we begin to pass less judgment and see people for beyond their roles we can truly love and experience who these people are. When you walk the way of the hero you get past your and other people’s roles.
One last thing I want to speak on is rewriting our story in regards to our parents. Only when we can make peace and no longer hold them responsible for our lives can we break the vicious cycle of behaviors we inherited from them (ever wonder why girls hate being told they are just like their mother lol). We let go out of stories such as I am bad with girls because my mother damaged me, or I am a failure because my father was too hard on me. We can make peace and no longer be a victim of what was done to us. We can be thankful and be grateful for all our gifts, experiences and opportunities no matter how painful it was to receive them.
I want to dedicate this article to 3 people. My father who didn’t live long enough to watch his boy become a man. Who didn’t know how to be parent and participated in destroying my childhood. To my mother who will never live down what she did to me no matter how much I tell her I have forgiven her. She will take our history to the grave and never forgive herself and that really makes me sad to the point of tears while I write this. Finally to my best friend someone who betrayed and hurt me so much that I never thought I would be able to trust someone again. He is back in my life and In a lot of ways he helped me become the person I am today and I will never be able to repay that debt no matter how hard I try.
I forgive them all for everything because it was not their fault. At the time they were victims also and just playing their part in my / their stories
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