She came up on me like a Cat-5 hurricane. Within ten minutes of meeting, she had regaled me with at least four different tragedies from her past. The drama and trauma were palpable. By the time she began launching into calamity number five, you probably have an idea of the queasy feeling I was beginning to experience in the pit of my stomach…
It’s the foreboding spell that comes over you when you meet a professional victim. Someone who wanders the earth holding out a figurative pair of jumpstart battery cables, looking to latch on to you, so they can suck all of the energy from your body.
Many people in the self-development space like to suggest that we manifest everything that happens in our lives. There is an element of truth in that, but it’s not a locked down certainty. All of us will occasionally be the recipient of random occurrences, both positive and negative. When you reap the benefits of accidental largesse, celebrate it, be grateful, but stay humble. Don’t brag about ascending Mt. Everest if you were dropped there by helicopter. When you’re victimized by indiscriminate tragedy, endure it as stoically as you can, and find the lessons that will help you overcome future difficulties. You can wallow in victimhood or you can decide to become a victor.
Then there are the outliers, like the lady I mentioned…
These are the people who get laid off, diagnosed with a terrible medical condition, have a random meteorite land on their Toyota, and their dog dies, all in the same week. Energy can be attracted or repelled. The professional victim people have somehow found a way to create an energy that allows them to attract every calamity and catastrophe within a 50-mile radius of them. And of course, they have a logical explanation why they had nothing to do with any of it, and are simply an unlucky, innocent victim. But no one is that unlucky. People in this category are usually subconsciously putting themselves in victim situations because there can be a lot of emotional rewards and payback for being a victim.
That presents a serious challenge for the rest of us. How do we remain loving, caring, and empathetic people, but not help perpetuate the victim cycle? The answer is loving others enough to challenge their beliefs and tell them the truth as you see it. And that usually begins by asking them a question along the lines of…
What do you think you may be doing to create the conditions that you say you don’t want?
It’s a great inquiry because it can lead to uncovering some of those subconscious emotional rewards mentioned above. And it actually works once every hundred times or so. (When the person is finally so sick and tired of being a victim and is ready to break the cycle.) The other 99 times, they’ll accuse you of being a callous, uncaring jerk who is too stupid to realize they are simply an innocent victim of circumstance. Don’t allow them to guilt you into sharing their dysfunction by pandering to it. It’s all part of the Kabuki Theater they have chosen for their life. If you truly love them, tell them the truth and be willing to face the consequences. Because they won’t ever achieve a breakthrough until someone cares enough about them to be real with them. It may also be very helpful to recommend a mental health professional to them.
Perhaps the single most important breakthrough anyone can achieve against negative outcomes is getting out of denial and recognizing the contribution they are making to them. Because once they become aware of self-sabotage they are inflicting on themselves, they’re dramatically less likely to fall prey again. If you can give this gift to someone, please do. If they’re not ready to receive the gift, step back, love them and let them grow. (You may have to ration the time you spend with them.) And hold the vision that in the future you’ll both have another opportunity.
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