Why we sometimes feel "harmed" even when no one has harmed us
Thank you Rhyd. Here’s a piece I wrote about the persecutor’s pov. https://open.substack.com/pub/joshliveright/p/memory-reconsolidation-and-dead-man?r=5hemq&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=post
I’ve had this same experience myself and eventually realized that if I interpreted the perceived “micro aggressions” in a different light, they were not about me/directed at me at all. But I feel that the dominant cultural push to interpret things in this way is definitely encouraging people to feel this way. Thanks for the post!
So well explained!
It became apparent to me in the #MeToo era that many people covertly believe that women have absolutely no agency: even if a woman clearly had the option to say no and walk away, without threat of violence, she is still a victim, as she apparently can’t even be held responsible for the beliefs and stories in her own mind (a belief which is, perhaps ironically for self-avowed “feminists” to hold, profoundly infantilizing of women).
I know enough about trauma to understand that most of our beliefs and behaviors are not adopted in the full light of adult consciousness, but rather are shrouded in the mists of early childhood, when we were in fact existentially dependent upon our parents or caretakers and did not have the kind of agency we surely do as adults. But once we are in fact adults, our thoughts and beliefs and behaviors, which are at the root of our patterns of reactivity and suffering in the world, can be no-one else’s responsibility but our own.
It is a part of my spiritual practice to take every apparently external “cause” (e.g. whether a person in my field, or a circumstance) as in some profound, beautiful, and mysterious way a message from me, for me (much as you would take an occurrence in the dreamtime), such that I alone am responsible for the entirety of my experience. It would not be possible to get into the metaphysics of this kind of radical self-ownership here, but what I will say is that this has brought to light for me how much my own past “victimization” (or felt sense thereof) absolutely required my complicity and active participation, which was most typically related to beliefs (usually about myself) and behaviors (usually related to how to secure love and safety in the world) adopted in childhood.
It is also true that we live in a slave moralistic society in which taking on the status of victimhood is a requirement (and psycho-spiritual cost) of securing love and support (from family/friends, as well as from mommy medicine and daddy government), and I am deeply sympathetic to people who are still stuck in the mire of victim consciousness. But for me, rooting it out of my own mind has been the most profound liberation.
resentment kills all desire.
Really good essay. I liked it. I think it helped, and I hope you are right about the genocide thing. I heard more than once from certain public figures what they intend to do, and some are doing it in states across the US.
I don’t know of many women who haven’t experienced some kind of sexual abuse/harassment just like I don’t know of many women who haven’t used it as a weapon in their perceived victimhood, even on a smaller scale, even only subconsciously. Since we’re a product of our society, we live out the roles as we are taught until something breaks loose and we start questioning everything. I agree that a real victim contains a trace of their victimhood and it colours everything they do, indeed.
This essay has spoken to a feeling in my own life, a pattern that swells and ebbs, but I perceive has roots in my own past traumas. I'm a SAHM right now of a toddler, which has its unique stresses, and causes existential thoughts to crop up throughout the day. I often feel as if I'm living someone elses's life, or a life that others want for me. To speak of agency is a reminder that sometimes the changes I wish to happen and the truer self I want to express are possible right now; I just have to see that they are possible, acknowledge the pattern of victimhood used to stop them from reaching actuation, and let go of the true fear of failure or disappointing others for being my authentic self. I want my son to see me following my path, so he can be brave and follow his own as well. Thank you for this reminder.