From blog posts, video logs to headlines news stories, most of us as inundated with stories about “bad” people and how these people affect our lives. The idea of someone or a group of people doing bad things to us can be emotionally triggering, to the point where you can lose yourself playing the role of the victim. You then find other people who can either relate to your story of victim-hood or at least sympathize with you on how you have been victimized.
The problem with this mindset is that, if you are indeed experiencing any degree of victimization at the hands of another person or group of people, you will continue to be victimized until you recognize your role in the story. While it is true that good people from time to time do experience bad experiences and sometimes at the hands of other people, a majority of the time when we have recurring bad experiences it is a result of the role we have unintentionally played in keeping the bad experience alive and well.
The ego can be fragile, it is an instinctual source we turn to, to find a sense of confidence in regards to how we navigate through life. However primary reliance on the ego to get you through challenges in life is a mistake. You need to be able to identify your flaws and weakness and the role they play in your recurring bad experiences or victim-hood, specifically in your relationships with others.
From personal to formal relationships in order to change our daily experiences for the better, we need to recognize the bad things we ourselves do and change them for the better. Seldom can you truly be absolved of all guilt during conflicts with others. In cognitive behavioral therapy, the client is introduced to the standard format of experience + behavioral response = natural and logical consequences. With the behavioral response being the most important variable in that simple equation. This is because, while you cannot control what other people do to you to include other experiences caused by other sources, your response to your experiences determines just how manageable your life is going to be.
In short, worrying too much about what others might do, does nothing to facilitate growth in our lives.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC.
Do you struggle with feelings of chronic shame? Are you constantly concerned about dealing with rejection from your peers or those you care about due to a failure in meeting obligations? If you answered yes, to all these questions, then there is a high likelihood that you are being deceived.
Relationships are about give and take, where both parties work together towards mutual benefaction. When shame comes into the picture in any relationship, it means that the person experiencing the shame is being deceived. When a person experiences shame, he or she experiences feelings of low self worth accompanied by a strong belief that he or she does not bring anything of value into the relationship. This leads the person to actually work harder towards contributing his or her share of value into the relationship. A thoroughly shamed person affords others who interact with him or her relief from actually putting in significant effort into the relationship. This is because the shamed person is too busy nursing his or her shame to recognize the unfairness.
Shaming occurs on all levels, from marco/organizational levels to micro/familial levels. As a former soldier, while training for a deployment to Afghanistan, our instructors would use suggestive shaming language to describe soldiers who had experienced the misfortune of driving over an IED. They strongly suggested that they (the wounded and dead drivers) had failed to follow the techniques that they were teaching us. The reality I soon learned, was that there weren’t any techniques that could proof you from driving over an IED or surviving an IED blast. It mostly came down to visibility, the strength of the bomb and the strength of your vehicle’s armor. In essence, luck. So in order to avoid being ridiculed/ having our courage and masculinity questioned, not one of us dared to question our instructors.
As a therapist, I have worked with individuals and couples where one party was filled with grief and shame for not living up to the expectations of his or her spouse, while the other person was putting little to no effort towards addressing the relationship. The bottom line is that if you find yourself experiencing shame, you are most likely being deceived.
Put it this way, if you find yourself in a professional or personal relationship where you are not fulfilling your end of the agreement, the other party will bring the relationship to an end. So if as a solider, I couldn’t cut it, I would have been promptly discharged. I actually witnessed this happen to other soldiers on a number of occasions. The same goes for personal romantic relationships. There is no point in evoking feelings of shame in someone who produces nothing of benefit for you.
When it comes to feelings, shame is a false negative. It does nothing positive to your character as a human being and it reinforces the falsehood that you as a human being are unworthy. In reality, the ability for a human being to recognize when he or she is not meeting agreed upon expectations, with a resolve to change things for the better comes from a mindset of unconditional self acceptance.
When you accept yourself unconditionally, you actually have the agency to take ownership for wrong doing and make amends. To reiterate, feelings of worthlessness is a strong sign that you are being manipulated.
So what do you do if you recognize that your chronic feelings of shame are unhealthy for you? The answer is that you seek the services of a psychotherapist. Chances are, that you had been preconditioned through your early life experiences to become easily manipulated by shame.
A good therapist will work with you towards addressing your triggers for shame and developing new beliefs and behaviors towards responding differently towards those identified triggers.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
Most of what we learned in our earlier years, to include what most children learn today can be described as prescriptive. With prescriptive being what we are told to do, without a good explanation for why. Well in this post, I will be giving a simple explanation in regards as to the science in letting go of resentments.
When we are wounded by the actions of someone, it is natural to become angered, and in some cases experience a desire for retaliation. The problem with giving into this desire is that it leads you down a path where you find yourself drawn into a world of victims and perpetrators. Every type of person that could possible exist already exists, so you are pretty much guaranteed to find the types of people you keep a lookout for, because by looking out for these types of people, you consequently think like them. This where the saying, “like minds attract” come from.
For example, when I work with people who experience bullying, I get them to see and understand how they are unknowingly enabling their suffering, based on their focus on the hostility in the relationship. By getting them to focus on the type of relationship they deserve, they quickly come to realize how they have placed themselves in the company of the bully on several occasions. The same principle applies to forgiveness, by focusing on the types of relationships you want, or the types of people you would like to be drawn to, you inevitably find yourself drawn to the task of healing and moving on. When you focus on retaliation, you find yourself paying more attention to people who remind you of the person who wounded you. Initially this may seem like the right thing to do, because you tell yourself that by focusing on those types of people you are preparing to defend yourself and protect yourself from future wounding.
However this is a trap, because (as mentioned earlier) everything that could possibly exist, exists all at once, so if you are seeking hostile relationships you will have no problems attracting hostile people, based on similarities in your thought process.. Eventually, if a significant period of time goes by where all you lookout for and see are hostile people, then you will either exist in a perpetual state of victim hood, become a victimizer yourself, or both.
Focusing on healing takes more courage, because you put yourself in the position of taking more risks in establishing healthier relationships, and subsequently pursuing your goals. Since everything exists at the same time, it is more worthwhile and likely that you will establish healthier relationships, if you look for them.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and Life coach.