A few people I know have been told recently by various institutions or counsellors that they are victims of abuse.
They have sought help because they are feeling scared and helpless. A well-meaning person, wanting to do the best for them provides a comforting label: victim.
‘You are ’ says the expert, ‘a victim. You are a victim of your violent spouse or controlling partner or bullying boss.’
It is a label that conjures up a frightening world of our mistreatment, our vulnerability and other people out to harm us.
It is given out with so much good intention. You are vulnerable, susceptible, unsafe, at risk. He or she is evil, nasty, manipulative, calculating, controlling, violent.
It would be helpful, this label, perhaps if it had even the slightest grain of truth in it. But it doesn’t.
So it is profoundly unhelpful.
Even worse than unhelpful it actually prolongs the suffering of the person because a major opportunity has been missed to show him or her why they are categorically not vulnerable, susceptible, unsafe or at risk.
Our current system reinforces the misunderstanding that our thoughts and feelings tell us about how the world is. It tells us that how we are seeing ourselves and other people is correct.
It tells us that those feelings of helplessness are because we are helpless, that we do not have the wherewithal to move ourselves away from people with whom it makes zero sense to stay.
It says ‘yes yes yes’ to our fear that the world is dangerous.
It tells us that our thoughts of dependency and weakness are true.
The truth is, though, that I am never a victim of a bullying boss. I am only ever believing powerful thinking that creates a monster in the office to tip toe around and pacify at all costs.
I am never a victim of a financially abusive spouse. I am only ever experiencing a creative mind that conjures up a world and a limited idea of myself in which I have to depend on someone for money.
I am never a victim of a violent partner. I am only ever hanging on to personal thinking that tells me I need to keep someone who hits me in my life, perhaps even that I deserve to be hit.
I am never the victim of a manipulating con artist. I am only ever believing that I need something outside of myself to be secure or happy.
In other words I am only ever experiencing thoughts and beliefs in the moment. And what are these thoughts and beliefs? Transient energy. Here one moment gone the next. There is nothing there. Nothing for me to even hold on to, let alone take seriously, let alone base my life on.
And let’s look at it from the other side. The misunderstanding is also telling the boss that they need to succeed at all costs, that tension and shouting is a sign they are working hard and getting results. It is telling the spouse that other people can cause blinding rage. It is telling the financially controlling partner that her security depends on rigidly controlling money and people.
The whole circus is set up on quicksand. All of it is built on a total misunderstanding of what is really going on. This is the great illusion of our time. In looking to other people, circumstances or, indeed, ourselves, as the perceived cause of our suffering we miss the true origin of every problem, every act of violence, every feeling of helplessness.
And telling someone who is believing thoughts of helplessness and dependency or their thoughts of anger and violence to take those thoughts seriously keeps them in the illusion. It points us in the opposite direction of the truth that will ultimately set all of us free.
Until we see the truth, unconscious behaviour will meet unconscious behaviour and the two will escalate each other. The only possible outcome is more suffering.
Are you saying it is entirely the fault of the ‘victim’ then?
Not even slightly. There is no fault in any of this. None of us have a choice about what we are thinking or believing from moment to moment.
The boss is behaving in the only way that he or she can according to what he or she is thinking in the moment. The scared employee is acting in the only way that he or she can given the boss thoughts have created in that moment.
There is only unconscious, unaware behaviour, which is the reflex outlet of our thoughts or there is consciousness, an awareness of the transient nature of thought and our ability to act from a deeper, quieter, wiser place.
We have no control over whether we are unconscious or conscious from moment to moment. We have no control of our journey from one to the other. We have no say in our evolution towards clarity.
Blame makes no sense.
Blame is a nonsense word. It doesn’t come into it.
When we don’t see the truth of our experience, we have to put our energy into changing other people or the world in order that we can feel OK.
When we do see the truth, it is impossible for us to act in a way that contradicts our innate well-being, creativity and resourcefulness.
What is the way out?
The single only way out for any of us is to remind ourselves of the immense creative power of thought to create our feelings in the moment and of our innate access to an intelligent, loving guidance that will steer us towards what makes the most simple sense.
This is it. There is no other way.
Because anything else, any other well-meaning intervention or label or advice or strategy will point us towards a made up world that has to change in order for us to be OK.
The on-going revolution in our understanding of mental health will mean that, one day, every professional working in the care of others will point people towards the power of thought.
Not simply so that they can look together in amazement at individual reality.
Not simply so they can marvel at the human miracle and our incredible creative capacity.
But because in that realisation is access to every resource an individual will ever need.
Because in that realisation is the end of suffering.
It is the end of the perpetrator and it is the end of the victim. Neither can survive under the microscope of the truth.
When we truly see that we live in a reality created by thought in the moment, we are free. From this moment onwards, we act on what we know to do. We get a new job, take someone to court, find a shelter, ask for help, report a colleague, leave a marriage, offer a service, care for our children, make new friends, change country, take on responsibility…
We can do all of this without the illusion that we are a victim.
We don’t have power over anyone else. No one else has power over us.
Our thoughts though, they have immense, ultimate, dictatorial, controlling, violent, terrifying, appeasing power.
Or they don’t.
No victim. No victim blaming. Just clarity.