Becoming A Victim
Today I met with an associate to discuss some business possibilities, but the conversation I took with me was the one we had regarding his Buddhism practice. As I was in business coach mode, I was quite observant of his state of being. He had an energy about him that was peaceful and delightfully contagious. It provided me a refreshingly calm drive to my next appointment at a nearby Starbucks.
I pulled into the parking lot there, and immediately noticed it was packed. Not one open space. Luckily a man that was leaving the building headed for his car just in front of me. I put on my blinker to make it clear I was claiming that spot. No other un-parked car was in the vicinity. That spot was mine. As he took his time in the driver’s seat a woman in another car pulled up facing me and seemed to hover around the spot-to-be. I noticed my heart rate go up. I inched up to accentuate my claim. As I looked through the windshields I attempted to make eye contact in order to confirm with my competitor. Eye contact was not reciprocated. Meanwhile I notice my body betraying me. My mouth dries up. I’m getting hotter. My mind is racing for the things to say should the unthinkable happen. My body braces for what’s to come.
Next, I start to judge myself.
“Why am I so worried about this?”
“What will I say to her?”
“Is she really going to do this?”
“I’m running late already!”
What is NOT going through my head are considerate and compassionate thoughts:
“Maybe she’s been here longer.”
“Maybe she’s had a really bad day or life, and I can be generous.”
“Maybe this whole thing is not that important.”
Next, the gentleman turns on his car and pulls out. As his headlights are facing me I’m left to wait for him to clear the spot in order for my car to move in. You can probably guess what happens next. The woman takes the spot. I honk more than necessary and wait for her to exit her car. She gives me the “Yes, I see you now”, smile and gesture. My dry mouth has caught up with me and my voice doesn’t work. I’m consumed by the thought of her and how she’s an example of what’s wrong with this world. I have no words or actions that will teach her the lesson she needs, and with my dry mouth it seems I’m unable to speak anyway.
Then it hits me. It hits me how I’ve made her the persecutor. A woman I’ve never met before now has a prominent role in my life. I am the victim and she is the persecutor. Later, others I will tell on Facebook will be my co-conspirators. I don’t know this woman or her circumstances, but I’ve got the whole play written out, complete with a cast of characters, adult language and moral to the story. It was automatic, and there was no sensitivity at all. It wasn’t even automatic. It was already there waiting to happen. It’s like when I was a kid and broke something in the house, my mother used to tell me, “Brett-you’re an accident waiting to happen.”
Now I’ve grown into a victim waiting to happen.
After a couple of deep breaths I calmed myself down and immediately found another spot that magically opened up. I went inside, got my tea and had a great meeting. Soon afterwards I started to dissect the whole thing.
Did I make the choice to become a victim there? Or was that role thrust upon me? Were the higher powers testing me after my Zen-like experience with my Buddhist friend?
Did I really need to honk the horn at her?
Any chance this rings a bell with you?
Can we agree that we indulge in this more than we admit?
This victim mentality pairs with a whole world of blame. It takes something for all of us to lift ourselves out of a convenient mindset that assigns fault and blame. It first takes awareness we are in the trap of blame and victim, followed by a willingness to be accountable. A term I learned this year that seems to fit here is the verb “adult”. If we adult more and blame less we create a whole new world of problem solving and life experience.
I know all this. I’m a regular student of it and even deliver programs on the subject. Knowledge on this subject is valuable, but knowing makes no difference. What we do with the knowledge is where the real power is. I’m an executive coach who consults people on the impacts of being a victim. My inner coach took a while to communicate with the coach outside so I could bring my awareness to what was going on, but we eventually got it done today. I could have done myself a favor and laughed it off as soon as I saw it unfolding in the parking lot, but I chose to let myself go to victim first. Every day there seems to be infinite opportunities to make the choice of a higher calling.
From now on I’ll do my best to claim THAT spot.