You are a success in everybody’s eyes. Maybe you are the one who “has it all.” Then one day, something happens. You lose your job or your spouse dumps you. Unlike a lot of people who see this as a loss and setback--something to overcome--you feel totally helpless and overwhelmed with life. You seem to have no resilience at all. Or you make a dramatic shift from being a rather easy-going person to an angry, vengeful one. Would you like to understand what happened?
Let’s go back to your childhood. The likelihood is that if the shift just described has happened in your life, you had some rough times as a child. If you experienced feelings of helplessness in childhood; if you felt at the mercy of people and circumstances (for example, an abusive parent, the death of a sibling or parent)… those experiences may have resulted in the development of certain patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting that are working against you in the present.
You never again want to experience those terrible childhood feelings of helplessness and hopelessness! So, building on your talents and skills, you may have cultivate feelings of stability, strength, self-confidence and independence from others by becoming successful You may have structured your life so that your successes have allowed you to feel invulnerable--super powerful.
The truth is, however, that those positive feelings of independence and invulnerability are not based on a solid core self. Failure to recognize and resolve wounds allows the wounding experiences of your childhood to remain denied, neatly hidden, and unresolved in your subconscious. So when circumstances or a relationship rob you of your independence and power, the re-activation of the childhood feelings is likely to occur.
Denied and unbidden, unresolved fears of abuse and/or abandonment will surface. And when such old patterns arise, they often become overwhelming, causing a severe psychosocial crisis. The choice seems to be to either use old strategies to avoid people, situations, and problems, or to use old strategies trying to control them.
Two inappropriate “avoid strategies” are to use chemicals or addictive behaviors such as gambling, busyness, or acting out sexually to deaden your feelings. Another inappropriate avoid strategy is to “helplessly submit. This is a deadly choice as it is easy to form an allegiance with the pain so that feeling like a “one-down or less than” victim gradually becomes part of your identity. The certainty that you are a victim can seem to hold a you together and create stability.
In contrast, the victim can refuse this position and take the opposite position of victimizer. This “one-up or better than” position is as debilitating as the victim position. It creates a false and limited self, and inevitably fails to lead to issue resolution.
Take a look at yourself. Do you often feel like a victim? Or is your default the victimizer position? You will, like all humans, swing from one to the other, but usually there is a default of one preferred state over the other.
Recognizing and managing the Victim-Victimizer Swing is only one of four major ways to tell if you have derailed and are undermining you healthy core self. You can find out more about this in my book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be – The Choice-Cube® Method..