Snap out of the bleeding-camel-enjoying-thorns mode

To feel Life, to live, we must stop feeling like a victim.
The more you dwell on what we don’t have, the more we will wallow in the cesspool of scarcity. Break free. The easiest way to think is that there is a conspiracy against us. Because it comes easy, this theory of victimization, we prefer being a victim, chained to imaginary circumstances, beliefs, even superstitions and, over a period of time, we actually begin to enjoy the suffering. In some ways, we are no better than the camels grazing in a desert. They feed on cacti and eat the thorns as well. Despite their mouths and tongues being constructed differently__strongly__at times, because of constant chewing of the sharp thorns, they start bleeding because the thorns have cut the skin inside their mouths. The thorns, mixed with fresh blood, create a ‘special’ taste for the camel and it starts enjoying ‘thorn-eating’! Our choosing to remain victims is no different. It is subconscious. While we bemoan our fate and lament our circumstance, in a way, as the McDonald’s ad goes, “we are lovin’ it”.
To arrest this self-proclaimed victimization theory, we must step up to the window, throw it open, and feel Life. Just as the fresh gust of wind from an open window will caress us, so will Life. Life is waiting for you to come seeking. But victims are not welcome. Life wants heroes__battle weary alright, but not grumpy, cribbing sort of folks. According to most dictionaries, a victim is “one who is harmed by or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency, or condition”. To stop feeling like a victim, be aware of what makes you sulk, suffer, grieve. When you analyze Life, many things, right from an insult from a colleague or family member to the scary feeling that your Life is going nowhere, are all signs of feeling like a victim. You are also a victim when you generally say: “All phone companies are milking their customers while providing lousy service.” Or “Our politicians will never pass a sensible legislation in the interest of the common people.” Or “I need more infrastructure and empowerment to do what I am doing at work.” You are a victim when you are judging a situation and thinking that something outside of you, an event, person or circumstance, is causing you grief and agony. Indeed, many, many of us feel victimized by the government, by the bureaucracy, by the condition of our roads, by the way we are brought up or by the way our employers manage our careers. For this feeling to go, you must let go of that ‘agent, circumstance or condition of pain’.
We met a friend, whose spouse asked him to leave their home over a fight. She then sold the property that was in her name, gifted by him on her birthday a few years back, and moved to another city with their young daughter. He says he was devastated. He confesses that for the first year after this happened, he felt betrayed, cheated and discarded like a ‘paper tissue’. “She used me and threw me away,” he recounts, continuing, “I was so hurt. But then I asked myself, why not look at it as I have been helpful to her. I have let her go. I have given her this property. And if she’s happy, why shouldn’t I not be happy seeing her happy? That day, I decided that I can choosenot to be the victim.” Big learning there. You__and I__too have a choice: which is, not to be victims. For this, first, we must snap out of this subconscious bleeding-camel-enjoying-thorns mode. Stopping to be a victim means stopping to blame someone else and taking charge of your Life with an inner and absolute sense of responsibility.

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An unputdownable learning from a pesky co-passenger

Each of us has an opportunity to make trauma meaningful.

Tragedy, and the trauma that follows, has spared no one. Even so, few people make the transition from victim to survivor. And the reason why many don’t make it is because they fail to look at trauma as an opportunity – to evolve, to understand Life and to make whatever is left of it meaningful.

What differentiates a victim from a survivor is simply the way each of them approaches Life post a setback or a crisis. A victim blames the extraneous factors that caused the crisis for his or her plight. Some victims even blame fate or God for their predicament. But psychologists believe that survivors are not likely to be on a blaming mission. Yes, they too will be besieged by hopelessness, anger and depression, but they will choose to move on. It is never easy. But they will, nevertheless, get up, dust themselves and keep walking – knowing that time – and Life – will eventually heal.

Survivor is a very academic term. I would like to replace it with another one in this context – champion. A champion here does not just mean a winner. It also means one who champions living fully – trying to do his or her best, no matter what the circumstances may be.

In an essay in the latest issue of The Week,  on the fortitude displayed by survivors, Shutapa Paul writes that scientists attribute survivorship – the ability to face Life despite the odds – to biological factors like high serotonin levels, no post-traumatic changes in hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis or less reduction in hippocampal volume in brain. But there’s another reason why champions have the indomitable (human) comeback spirit. And that reason is, they don’t waste time asking why something has happened. Indeed they experience pain and do suffer for a while trying to make sense of whatever has happened. But they stop sulking pretty soon. They face their trauma, accept their reality, recognize the futility of their grief and of blaming anyone – including Life – and simply go on living. They see Life as a gift and don’t intend on wasting it. Nor do they ever feel the urge to quit and to give up on Life.

I was once traveling by the Rajdhani Express from Surat to Mumbai. The passenger sitting next to me was keen to have a conversation with me. I was least interested in a chat and preferred to go back to reading Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, which was nearing its unputdownable climax. But the man was irritatingly persistent. I finally put down the book and succumbed to my neighbor’s efforts to chat with me . I soon discovered that he had an inspiring story to share. He, I learned, is a very successful diamond trader. His wife and only child had died in the Indian Airlines (now Air India) IC 113 plane crash at Ahmedabad airport in October 1988. He showed me pictures of his deceased wife and son. He told me how difficult it was initially for him to cope with their sudden, devastating loss.

“I loved my wife and son dearly. For many months after their death, I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming their names. I would be alone in my palatial bungalow. And my screams would echo back to me. It was eerie,” he said.

“How did you move on? Did you remarry,” I asked, considering I thought he was in his mid-forties when I met him.

“I chose not to remarry. I moved on, however, because I soon realized suffering and grieving was foolish. It was not going to bring back my family alive to me. I realized that while I loved them a lot, I was hardly spending time with them. I was busy making money. Now, I have lots of money. But no family to go back to. So, I have made it my mission in Life to awaken people to the importance of spending time with their families, and not just on their careers. Which is what I want to tell you too. Please make time for people who you love. Spend quality time with your wife and children. Life is very unpredictable and impermanent. Make sure you have meaningful memories when you are finally alone,” he explained.

To me, that man on the train, is a champion. His wisdom, it turned out, was more unputdownable than The Da Vinci Code! For he’s understood not just Life but its value. So, he’s managed to make his Life – and his trauma – meaningful. We may all not be successful in making trauma meaningful, but we can at least ensure that we are not held hostage by it. Clearly, when Life socks us, as it will often do, we can come out of our initial state of shock and trauma, by accepting our current reality, by understanding that continuing to grieve is wasteful and by simply “living Life fully”!

To feel Life, stop feeling like a victim

The more you dwell on what you don’t have, the more you will wallow in the cesspool of scarcity. And feel like a victim.
Break free. The easiest way to think is that there is a conspiracy against us. Because it comes easy, this theory of victimization, we prefer being a victim, chained to imaginary circumstances, beliefs, even superstitions and, over a period of time, enjoy the suffering.
Our choosing to remain victims is subconscious. While we bemoan our fate and lament our circumstance, in a way, we are also loving it. To arrest this self-proclaimed victimization theory, we must step up to the window, throw it open, and feel Life. Just as the fresh gust of wind from an open window will caress us, so will Life. Life is waiting for you to come seeking. But victims are not welcome. Life wants heroes__battle weary alright, but not grumpy, cribbing sort of folks.
Stopping to be a victim means stopping to blame someone else and taking charge of YOUR Life with an INNER and ABSOLUTE sense of responsibility.