This issue originally published as A Course for Teachers
of the World I See Victimization
Recently, one of my students lamented "school is the worst thing in my life!" She stated that she would rather beg on the street than go to school. She further stated that she bothers no-one, keeps to herself and yet people will not leave her alone. What she meant about not being left alone was that everyone was "telling her what to do." The law was making her come to school. Teachers were making her pay attention. The schools administration was keeping her from being with friends and having fun. I could not interest her in anything other than conversation that focused on her perceived victimization.
I will call this student Sally. Sally saw the world as always doing something to her. Yet, if she really gave it some thought (which she refused to do), she would see that whatever she thought happened to her, was in some way a consequence of something that she did. In one way or another Sally promoted, created or otherwise allowed it to happen.
In the current climate of the country, everyone is a victim of one thing or another. Men, going through mid-life crisis, discover that their absent fathers caused their dilemma. Criminal actions are dismissed as the consequences of poor parenting. Society is blamed for producing mentally and psychologically ill-equipped citizens who are victims of the system rather than makers of it. Tonya Harding is a victim. Mr. Fay, the young man sentenced to caning in Singapore, is a victim of a cruel and unjust judicial system. If we wish, we may even suggest that Adam was the victim of a tricky Eve. In turn, Eve was a victim of a slippery, sly snake. What do all of these have in common with my unhappy students?Bad Things Happen
Certainly, bad things do happen. They happen to all of us. There are accidents, wars, natural disasters, crime, perpetrators and victims. Our discussion does not negate peoples suffering. It defines victimization not as a consequence of living in an uncertain world, but as chronically setting oneself up as a tragic figure unable to handle difficult situations or take responsibility for what happens to us, how we feel and how we respond.
A Course in Miracles states, "Guilt asks for punishment, and its request is granted." All of the victims mentioned above have one major unexamined thread running through their thinking (whether conscious or subconscious). Each is refusing accountability, not only for their actions, but also for their situation and response to it.
Most of us are brought up by well-intentioned caretakers who functioned with a mixture of fear and love. We grew up with a sense of scarcity and shame. John Bradshaw would say that the shame was so overwhelming that our self-worth is severely questioned. This toxic shame immobilizes our natural desire for love as we think that we are never worthy, not good enough. We feel guilty for not being worthy. We then ask to be punished by placing ourselves into situations where our biggest fears are realized. We create self-fulfilling prophecies because we are destined to do so. Of course, the world seems like a threatening, fearful, boring and victimizing place.Training
We can choose another way. We can teach ourselves that the way we feel is a choice that we always have. If we pick minor life situations where we can alter our perceptions about what is happening, then we can develop a reputation with ourselves. Our improved self-esteem increases the probability that we can act in a more loving manner should more complex life situations come into our life (as they surely will).
We can train ourselves not to rebel against accountability. We do not become victims. We take action by doing rather than lamenting. We can become more conscious of the ways we place ourselves in the role of victim. Stuck in a rut, the comfort of familiar negativity, of blaming the world, is far less risky than trying something new. Working on improving ourselves is scary, but necessary. We work on it. We practice, practice, practice.
Jerry Jampolsky believes that people's problems today are exactly the same as they were thousands of years ago. He says that our ego-led temptation to judge and blame others for our victim position is the same problem that humanity has had forever. To leave being a victim behind, we need to be accountable. We need to make a commitment to see the world in a different way.
When we give up blaming and judging parents, school, teachers, boss, coworkers, spouse, friends, god or society for the predicament we are in, we seize power to change the world. We no longer abdicate our power and allow outside events and people to control our lives. We simply and miraculously change our mind. As a result, we change our life.Choices
We constantly make choices. Jerry Jampolsky's Attitudinal Healing Centers are wonderful places for learning. In his book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Life, Jerry describes an eleven year old girl who had lost her mother, father and brother in Chicago as a result of violence. This young girl was determined in spite of all her suffering to change her life. Her decision to do so was a result of changing her perception.
Our eight year old son, Dylan, is a good example of how perceptions influence what we see, what the world is like. Each day, every four and one half hours, Dylan catherizes himself. In the beginning, almost two years ago, the procedure was difficult. We helped him train himself. He developed a belief that it was "no big deal." He changed his mind and changed his life. It is no big deal.
I tell my students the story of two athletes running in an race. The first perceives that he will win the race. The other perceives that he has no chance. I ask my students which has the better likelihood of changing or creating the outcome? I suggest that they too can choose to win their race as well.
Choosing to win the race is letting go of our negative thoughts and criticisms. We stop playing the blaming game. We stop behaving as a consequence of our shame. We choose giving up our belief in our knee-jerk negative reaction to what happens around us.
We can attempt to see where our defeating behavior comes from. We may decide that we would rather be happy than right. We can practice not trying to prove others wrong in order to prove ourselves right.Teacher and Student
A Course in Miracles teaches that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Professional teachers, nurses, doctors, dentists and others contend that they can teach, but if the learner is unwilling to learn no learning will take place. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. We can, however, as teachers, and as teachers to each other, always come from a place of love and make certain that the trough of water is always full. The teacher is always ready for the student to learn. Just because the message may never be received does not mean it is not worth sending.
In Love, Leo Buscaglia writes that man often hides comfortably behind easily reinforced rationalizations for his entire life. "He never sees their relationship to his inability to form serious, meaningful relationships or feel peak experiences." What gets in the way of the student is often his or her upbringing. Unfortunately, the mass media teaches us that we are subject to the whims of negative or destructive forces. There seems to be no hope. At times, we feel defeated.
Why should the horse drink from the trough even though it is full? It may not be safe. In the end, it is a question of self-love. We can be both student and teacher of ourselves. When we learn to love ourselves, we discover the uniqueness that is us. We find taking the drink from the trough exhilarating; in the process the loved self increases the probability of realizing some of our fantastic possibilities. In turn, we contribute to filling the trough ourselves. We continue as teacher. We teach that there are no victims, no outside causes of our distress. We teach that the world we see is our creation and in it we place our trust.
We can recognize that the master teachers are already here. They are inside us and go by the names illness, fear, jealousy, hatred, depression, disagreeableness, anything that is energy in motion. We cannot get rid of these feelings. Nor should we. They are soundings bidding us that an opportunity has arrived for us to be our best. The students teachers are filling the trough.Taking Charge
My complaining student questions whether this is a free society. She ponders that if that were the case, people would not be telling her how to brush her teeth, what to study, what class to go to next, and so on. She fails to recognize that freedom is an internal construct. Everything that feel or sense is a product of our internal processing.
Victor Frankl writes, "The last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." We can seldom make the world be what we want it to be. We can always choose how we see the world.
Jon-Roger and Peter McWilliams in their book Life 101 state, "As far as we can tell, the only thing you can take charge of is the space within the skin of your body. That's it. Everything (and especially everyone) else does not belong to that of which you can take charge."
What does taking charge actually mean? It means being accountable for everything we feel and how we react. It means not being a victim of others actions and outcomes, for to do so means handing over our freedoms to external events and other people. Taking charge means we mostly feel only those emotions we chose. In addition, we control our thoughts. We release the negatives. We might consider meditation as a method to train the mind in letting go of the negatives.
Taking charge is redefining ourselves as a participant in life rather than a victim. "No understanding of evolution is adequate that does not have at its core that we are on a journey toward authentic power, and that authentic empowerment is the goal of our evolutionary process and the purpose of our being." Enlightenment is evolution. Evolution is taking charge. Taking charge is choosing freedom. We remember that everything we think, everything we say and do, defines our world for us.Every Day
One way to take charge is to start our day right. "There is one thought in particular that should be remembered throughout the day. It is a thought of pure joy; a thought of peace, a thought of limitless release, limitless because all things are freed within it." Our freedom lies in thoughts of joy just as our self-imposed prison lies in thoughts of judgment, criticism and victimization. "I will not hurt myself again today."
It is important to remember that should our start fail, we can always start again at any time. Recently, our son Dylan and I had a small verbal interchange where egos battled (a shouting match). Upset, distraught and sniffling, Dylan shifted gears in a moments notice. He decided there was no point in continuing. He chose to no longer have an ego investment in our argument. I however, felt uneasy and upset for some time.
I am often amazed how quickly children can go from distress to joy. At times it seems as if only a moment goes by, no longer than the batting of an eyelash, before a child is joyous again. What stops adults from doing the same? Our ego investment in the illusions of the world are difficult to let go. We can take a lesson from children, our natural teachers, to start over at any moment we wish. Any time we lose our way, move off center, we can opt for starting over by recognizing, just like the child does, that the true purpose of time is to be content in the moment.Every Moment
We live neither in the past nor the future. Both are illusions. Every moment is all there is. A simple willingness to forego thoughts of the past and the future in favor of being in the present leads to taking control of the way we feel. We become accountable for only what is happening now. We need not change the past nor worry about the future. In the now moment and in every moment we are accountable and thus avoid victimization.
During our lifetime, many people will tell us what to do, where to go, what to study, where to live, etc. Some will pull us over and issue a traffic summons. Remembering every moment that we are not a victim, we will not allow anyone to dictate how we respond or feel. Every moment is for feeling joyous.Summary
I have just three things to teach:
Thus the wise man residing in the Tao sets an
© 1994 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski