I was just reading a Facebook post about bullying that elicited some strong feelings for me. The post asked people about their experiences with bullying and how best to respond to these situations when they arise. In reading the responses I could sense a strong feeling of victimhood which I felt a lot of compassion around.
Let me begin with some background and qualifiers. First off I do not condone bullying. I take the fact that we’re working hard to reduce its occurrence to be an encouraging sign that we’re becoming a more compassionate society. Secondly, I myself experienced both sides of bullying growing up as a kid. I was made fun of a lot as kid for being overweight and ‘nerdy’. I also dished out a reasonable amount of abuse to others. In looking back on these experiences I find they had a certain warped innocence to them. As if as kids we hadn’t really learned that there were kinder, healthier ways of interacting with one another.
The other angle of this situation that I am all too aware of is how we as humans tend to become very attached to our feelings of victimhood. Perhaps understandably when we feel that we have been wronged we want to be validated. We want justice. It is much easier to point the finger at the other person and want them to change so that we can feel better.
A huge lesson for me here at Earth School has been that victimhood is a very limiting lens to see life through. When you assume the role of victim you not only give away all of your power but you actually attract and create more situations where you are the victim.
This phenomenon can be best illustrated with the Drama Triangle. When you’re operating in the drama triangle there are only 3 available roles: victim, villain, or rescuer. So let’s play this out: Let’s say Bob experiences bullying. He assumes the role of victim and feels that it is very unfair that he is being bullied. Sally is the person bullying him. She becomes the villain. From Bob’s perspective there is nothing he can do about being bullied. Sally is simply a bad person who is picking on him unfairly. In many cases Sally may have no idea why she’s giving Bob a hard time. There’s a good chance that this is unconscious behavior on her part.
Tragically the more we assume the role of victim in our lives the more we tend to attract villains and rescuers. Have you ever known someone who seemed to experience way more than their fair share of ‘bad luck’? Someone who couldn’t seem to catch a break no matter how hard they tried? Was this person also eager to share with you all their experiences of victimhood?
Conversely have you known someone empowered who seemed to be able to navigate any challenge with agility and grace? Did this person ever consider themselves the victim in any situation they faced?
This is a harsh example but it is worth considering. Two people are walking down the street. One stands up tall and confident while the other one is hunched over and clearly exudes fear and vulnerability. Which one do you think a potential attacker would choose? If you’ve ever watched nature shows who does the lion go after in the herd of antelope? The strong or the vulnerable? I’m certainly not saying this is fair or just or admirable but it does seem to be a principle that governs our lives.
Another lens that life can be seen through is from the perspective of the Empowerment Triangle. Instead of Victim/Villain/Rescuer the Empowerment Triangle is based on Compassion/Responsibility/Empowerment. From this perspective our bullying situation looks very different. Sally goes from being a Villain/bad person to becoming a teacher. She is reflecting back to Bob an emotional wound or a limiting belief that he as about himself. Bob then has the opportunity to take responsibility for and address these issues so that they no longer limit him in his life. The other benefit to this approach is that it doesn’t return. Once you’ve dealt with an issue there’s no reason for a teacher to come along and point it out to you anymore.
Let me hash this out a little more. Let’s assume your hair color is something other than blue. If I came up to you and started making fun of you for having blue hair it wouldn’t really bother you, would it? You’d just think I was an idiot because you know darned well that your hair is brown/blond/pink, etc. However if I came up to you and started making fun of you for being a ‘loser’ and that happened to be a subconscious belief that you had about yourself it would be a very different story. This would be very upsetting and painful for you. If something bothers you and really hurts it’s a sign that there is work to be done. Again though once you’ve dealt with this issue I promise you that it will go away. If you shift the false limiting belief that you are a ‘loser’ and someone comes along and pokes fun at you for being a ‘loser’ it would be like the blue hair example. You know for a fact that you aren’t and anyone who suggests otherwise has their own work to do.
I ran into this situation with my son not long ago. He felt he was being bullied at school. I explained to him that the person messing with him was trying to teach him something and was showing my son something that needed to be addressed. We did a healing journey and addressed the issue in question. The next day my son was amazed to find that the bully/teacher was no longer messing with him but continued to bother other people.
The unfortunate thing about human beings at this point in time is that we seem to need struggle, strife, and suffering to learn the things that we’re here to learn. It is for this reason that Earth School can appear to be a very harsh, cruel, and uncomfortable place. Think about it: have the periods of true growth in your life happened when you were comfortable or when you weren’t? Would we as humans learn anything if we remained in a comfort zone for our entire lives?
Ultimately the choice is yours. When you experience challenges and uncomfortable situations in your life you can see yourself as a victim and life as being unfair or you can see it as a lesson. Which approach do you think will be more growthful? More empowering? If you find yourself being bullied you can take it as a sign that something needs to be addressed. A limiting belief that needs to be shifted. An emotional wound that needs to be transformed. By choosing which lens we see Earth School through we can determine whether life will feel more like a dance or a desperate struggle.