I can’t become a warrior until I let go of being a victim.
I’m wholly unashamed to admit that although I’ve been dealt this lesson over and over again during the past 3 years, I wasn’t able to fully grasp it until just recently.
The thing about the Universe is that it will keep dealing out the hard lessons until we’re able to receive them. They might take different shapes and forms and manifest in a myriad ways, but those lessons will keep coming until we’re able to fully embrace them.
Becoming a warrior in my own life and shedding the skin of the victim has been a process. It didn’t happen overnight; it didn’t even happen over several nights. It took the time that it took, and now here I am:
Fully committed to my warrior self, and mostly equipped to let go of any vestiges of victimhood.
I believe that as human beings we can (and do) feel pain on a deep, enduring level—and even so, we are still responsible for what we choose to do with that pain. We are 100% accountable for how we experience the world, despite the cards we’ve been dealt.
And when we feel this inevitable pain, the instinct is to hold on. To wallow. To bathe in the seemingly righteous waters of victimhood.
But the lessons aren’t in holding on at all; the lessons are in letting go.
The universal tendency of the experience of pain is to cast oneself as a victim. This role, when pain is present, tends to come easily. It’s comfortable, even.
And, if the pain is suffered at the hands of others or via external circumstances out of our control, it can become especially easy to fall into a victim mindset.
The pain of self-victimization is a cruel and relentless Temptress. She asks us to identify as a victim, to attach strongly to this identity, and to hold onto it at all costs. And once we do, the idea of moving through the pain is downright frightening; who are we in our pain if we aren’t the victim?
It’s scary at first, relinquishing the victim role; it can feel as though we’re condoning the pain that people have caused us, or diminishing our very real experience in some way. When we abandon the victim, we abandon all possible villains as well, which can sometimes feel like a betrayal of self.
But if you really get down to it, which is scarier: relinquishing the righteous indignation of victimhood or choosing to be a prisoner of your own pain?
The chief issue with identifying as the victim is that it steals our power; it makes us feel helpless, at the whim of things outside of our control. If we are a victim in our story, we can’t be a warrior, because we simply can’t take inspired action when we feel as though our fate isn’t in our own hands.
As hard as it was for me to learn this lesson and detach from the mindset of a victim, the alternative was, well, self-inflicted misery. Because while my pain was real and my reaction to it understandable, the only person I was hurting by being a victim was myself.
If we can learn to let go of our role as the victim, we simultaneously release that stifling feeling of misery. As a warrior, we can step into a space of power—a space where pain teaches us and strengthens us, rather than keeps us small. From this space we can grow and expand, transforming our pain into an energy force that propels instead of paralyzes.
The major difference between warriors and victims lies in whether or not we attach permanence to our situation. A warrior understands that all things in life-including life itself-are wholly impermanent. The heart of a warrior is rooted in the unshakable truth that nothing-not pain nor pleasure-will endure forever.
A victim, on the other hand, operates under the false assumption of permanence. When we’re in victim mode, the only thing that exists for us in our pain and the feeling that we are doomed to suffer it indefinitely.
Becoming a warrior is dependent on this detachment from permanence. Rather than asking “why me?” can we learn to see our world just as it is, without our distortions, past preoccupations, and future predictions?
Can we choose to be present with our pain and use it to make us more powerful?
Can we build character through struggle and receive the lessons that the Universe so dutifully doles out?
These are questions that a warrior asks. This is how we can begin to occupy a space of power and perspective as we learn to detach from the victim, leaving with her the feeling that we have no choice in our experience of this life.
This is the way of the empowered woman—are you ready?
- Neghar Fonooni