Victim identity: A cry for attention and love

 

For some of us, the victim identity can be very strong. The mind may even hold onto it as if it’s a matter of life and death.

Why is the need to hold onto something so painful so strong? What is the real need or wish within it? It must be something that our minds holds as very important. So important that it’s willing to create suffering for itself in the hopes of getting it.

To me, it seems that it comes from a deep need and wish for love and presence. For attention, understanding, comfort, love and presence. As long as that’s not met, the victim identification will continue to be fueled by the mind. In it’s trance, it may see it as the best or only way to get what it really needs and wants, which is that presence and love.

It works to some extent. When we go into victim identification, other people may give us some attention, understanding, and love. We may even have been trained by our parents that that’s how we get attention and love. And yet, it doesn’t really work. People may give it to us sometimes and not other times. And even if we get that presence and love from them, it’s not enough as long as we don’t give it to ourselves. We cannot truly take it in and experience it until we give it to ourselves.

So that’s the remedy. Our own presence and love is the remedy.

How do we give it to ourselves? There are a few different ways.

Natural rest. Notice and allow. Notice what’s here in experience and allow it. (Notice it’s already noticed and allowed.) Being present with it. This presence itself is a form of love.

Say “thank you for protecting me” to the part of us in pain. It’s here to protect us.

Say “I love you” to the part of us in pain. Say “you are allowed to be as you are”. Say “I am here with you and I love you”. Say “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.”. Say any one of these over and over until it becomes a felt experience.

Imagine ourselves, or the hurting part of us, sitting in front of us. Do tonglen. Visualize that person’s suffering as dark smoke and breathe it in on the inbreath. Breathe out light (love, presence) and into the other person on the outbreath. See the person light up. Repeat many times until you really and deeply feel it.

Examine stressful and painful stories and identities. Use inquiry. (The Work, Living Inquiries. Something else.) This is also a form of presence and love. It cannot be done if there isn’t presence. And it’s a loving attention and examination, which may also reveal love when the painful stories and identities are seen more clearly for what they are.

Take care of the body. Do something soothing. Take a bath. Eat nourishing food. Drink plenty of water. Go for a walk. Be in nature. Be kind to yourself. Do yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Breema, TRE. (All of which are forms of presence and love.)

These are all ways we can shift how we relate to those parts of ourselves in pain. If we suffer, it’s because we tend to avoid or try to push these parts away. They are like animals or children who are ignored, avoided, struggled with, or even bullied. No wonder they suffer and are in pain. No wonder they cry out for our presence and love.

When we meet them in presence and love, they feel seen and honored and can relax. This takes time. We need to stay with it for a while. We need to return to it frequently, especially if these parts of us are used to being ignored or struggled with. An animal or child whose needs have been neglected needs time to learn to trust and relax, and that’s how it also is with these parts of ourselves. Giving our presence and love means giving of our time.

As mentioned above, one way to meet them in presence and love is through inquiry. Inquiry is a form of love. The process of inquiry is a process of presence and kind attention. And the outcome is that we see that what we thought was so solid and real (and painful) may not really be so solid and real. What’s more real and true is also more kind.

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Victim identity

 

The last few years, it seems that life has made an extra effort to set up situations where my victim identity comes to the surface. (Illness, loss of relationships, loss of house, loss of friends, feeling alone and unsupported, fear of the future etc.)

It’s easy to tell myself life is doing it so the victim identification can be resolved in me. It’s life squeezing what’s left out of me (as Adya said would happen). It’s easy to tell myself these stories, although I see that I am the one who wants it to be resolved in me. I am the one squeezing what’s left out of me. And I see how I contribute to create these situations.

Life sets it up —> I set it up.

Life wants me to…. —> I want me to….

That’s more true for me, and I can find specific examples of how each is true.

The victim identity alone is images and words. Add associated sensations (velcro), and there is identification. The identity seems more solid and real, and it seems what I am.

At times, the identification is activated and seems solid, real, and what I am. And other times, it may be in the background while still influencing how I perceive and live in the world, and it’s also partially dormant waiting to be triggered and brought to life again by my mind.

So how can it be resolved? I know some ways that doesn’t seem to bring resolution: Ignoring it, trying to push it away, denying it, distracting myself from it, making myself feel good temporarily.

What are some other ways?

Notice and allow. Notice images, words, sensations. Allow. Notice they are already allowed.

Find love for it. Find kindness and love for the victim me, for the images, words, and sensations, for the victim me in the past. Perhaps use ho’oponopono, or loving kindness, or tonglen. Scan back in time, find times where the victim identity came up, and find love and kindness for myself then.

Inquire into it. Can I find the victim me? Can I find the threat? Can I find a command to be a victim, or not be a victim? What’s the worst that can happen if I am a victim? If I am not? When do I remember first feeling like a victim? Can I find the victim me in those memories? Can I find the threat there? A command to be a victim, or not be a victim?

Include the body. Use therapeutic tremors (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises, TRE). Bring the victim identity, and the situations triggering it, to mind while trembling. Go for walks, eat well, spend time in nature, do yoga (Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Breema etc.) as a support for my life, and for finding love for the victim identity and doing inquiry on it.

Ask for support. Ask life (God, Spirit) for support. Ask friends and family for support, if that seems appropriate. Ask people with helpful skills for support through facilitating inquiry and whatever else may support resolution.

What do I mean with resolution? It doesn’t mean making it go away. It does mean inviting in a shift in how I relate to it – the victim identity, identification, and anything else coming up around it.

It means notice and allow.

Finding love and kindness towards it. (Including from seeing that the victim identification is innocent, and comes from a wish to protect the me. It comes from love and kindness. It’s worried love.)

Inquire into it, to see what’s already there. See how the mind creates the victim identity and identification. See any associated images, words, and sensations.

It means treating it – the victim identity, identification, and anything associated with it – with respect. It’s there for a reason. When I see it’s there to protect me, it comes from love, it’s innocent, then it’s natural to find respect for it.

It means seeing that it really, honestly, doesn’t need to go away. When I find kindness and love for it, when I see it’s from love, when I see how the mind creates the victim identity and identification, then I also see it really doesn’t need to go away.

When I see the images as images, words as words, and sensations as sensations, and take time to feel the sensations as sensations, then I see it’s all OK. It’s all innocent. It’s all OK as is. It really, truly, doesn’t need to go away.

Also, when it doesn’t control me or my life anymore, it’s clear it doesn’t need to go away.

Similarly, when it finds it’s own liberation, it doesn’t need to act as strongly to get my attention. When it finds it’s own liberation from being mistreated, vilified, and pushed away by me, it naturally tends to quiet down, and it’s clear it doesn’t need to go away.

As always, knowing this can be helpful. It’s a first step. Even knowing it from previous experience, from a memory, is a first step. It’s like having a menu, or medicine in your hand. And what matters is actually applying it. Actually doing it. Actually ordering the food and eating it. Actually taking the medicine. And doing it wholeheartedly. Doing it thoroughly.

I see that the victim identity is quite central to my deficiency stories. Perhaps it’s like that for most of us. As soon as there is identification, the victim identification is set up to come alive. Even when we construct elaborate ways to deal with it, it may still be there underneath.

Our ways to deal with the victim identification may include creating an identity as as strong, capable or independent. Nurturing supportive friends and family. Using our natural strengths such as intelligence, knowledge storage, friendliness. Creating a life that’s safe materially and in as many other ways we can. All of these are fine, and many are even ways to be a good steward of our life.

And yet, the victim identification may still be there, and when it comes to the surface it’s good to notice, and perhaps explore it a bit. Sometimes, it’s so much in our face that we don’t seem to have many other options than really taking it seriously.

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Inquiry on victim self

 

Own inquiry on victim identity:

Look at the word “victim”. Is that word you, the victim? (Q1) Yes, I feel it in my throat and chest.

Feel those sensations. Take your time.

Are there any images or words? I see a picture of me sitting here.

Look at that picture. Notice the space between you and the picture. Q1? Yes, I feel sadness.

Feel the sadness. Notice where you feel it. Drop into it. Allow it.

What is your first memory of feeling that feeling? I see a picture of me in London with my parents, exhausted at the end of the day. Angry. Sad. Tired. Despairing. (About 5 years old.)

Look at that picture. Q1? Yes. I feel it in my throat, face, chest, stomach.

Feel the sensations. Take your time.

(I am shortening a section here: An image of me sitting here. The word “victim”. Sensations in face. A surge of energy in face, throat area. Sensations in chest. Picture of me telling a friend a victim story. Sensations in face, throat, chest.)

Sensations in face. What do those sensations mean? I am a victim.

Look at those words, “I am a victim”. Q1? Yes, face.

Feel the sensations. Q1? No.

Look at the picture of you as a kid in London. Q1? (Slightly, face. Feel. Back to picture.) Q1? No.

(Rechecking words, images, until untriggerable and unfindable.)

Experientially, this leaves the victim identity without perceivable charge or stickiness (velcro). It feels more clear. I can still see the words and images, and perhaps feel some of the same sensations, but they don’t seem to make up a “victim” or a self that’s a victim. There is more freedom around this.

In general, it seems that a victim identity and identification happens as soon as there is identification at all. As soon as we take ourselves to be something, that something can be – and will be – the victim of X. Of life, others, ourselves. It’s good to look at.

Craig Holliday: It is not until we are willing to take full responsibility for our lives

 

It is not until we are willing to take full responsibility for our lives, will we be free, until then we will still be able to be a victim to the causes and conditions of this world and our ego. Through the act of claiming full responsibility, we become free and empowered to create our lives by choosing our reactions to this play, in doing so we live beyond the reactive nature of our minds, and become free in this world.

If we make this commitment, we must first be willing to put down all blame and judgement, and take total responsibility for our life as it is.

When we do this we discover how powerful we actually are, because we have taken all power from the victim consciousness of our egoic mind and claimed that power as our own autonomy.

– Craig Holliday

Victim identity

 

I seem to be in a process of cleaning out anything not aligned with reality and love, and as part of that the victim identity sometimes comes up very strongly.

Any image or thought that’s held as true creates identification as a victim, and some more obviously so than other. I am a victim of the world. And with that, there are additional stories. It’s hopeless. Life is against me. I can’t have what I want. I am unlovable. I am missing out. He has a better life than me. Nothing goes my way. I will be alone. 

Some things I do in addition to sometimes getting completely caught up in it:

Giving it all over to God. I give all – this body, mind, situation – over to you, God. 

Giving it to the heart flame. Placing my body-mind, and the victim identification, in the flame. Allowing the flame (clarity, love, non-identification) to burn away anything not like itself.

Identifying and inquiring into beliefs.

Inviting in natural strength, clarity, love. Natural strength is welcome here. 

Asking for deep healing and resolution. Asking for guidance. Show me the way. Let this find deep resolution and healing. 

Asking that this will be for the benefit of all beings. (Aligning myself with that intention.) Asking myself if it’s true that this is not already to the benefit of all beings. (Noticing I don’t know it’s not this way, noticing where I find examples of how it already is that way.)

Here are a couple of questions to help me see what’s really there:

What do I hope to get out of victim identification?

If I am a victim…. Others will love me, take care of me. I will get what I want. God will take care of me. God will love me. Life will give me what I want. I get to not take responsibility. I get to not look at my assumptions. I get to stay a child. Others will pay attention to me. I can manipulate others to get what I want.

What am I afraid would happen if it wasn’t there?

If the victim identification wasn’t here, what I fear the most is….. It would be unfamiliar. I wouldn’t know how to live. I wouldn’t get what I want. I wouldn’t be able to manipulate others. Others wouldn’t pay attention to me. They wouldn’t love me.

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