Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rachel: Yet Another Permanent Victim

Last night, on Big George's show on BBC London, a young woman named Rachel called up. She's an aspiring Jazz singer but is also clinically depressed and uses illegal drugs to self-medicate. She calls him up on a regular basis and moans about the same things over & over. While many instantly feel sorry for people like her, I've learned that doing so actually accomplishes more harm than good. Herein is the letter I sent to George.

I've known people like Rachel all my life. They spend most of their time each day erecting obstacles in their minds. Rather than thinking about what they "can" or "must" do today, instead they repeatedly focus on these words: "I can't because ...."

While some proponents of positive thinking perhaps take things a bit too far at times, let's look at the opposite, what we can call the "Rachel track". If someone is repeatedly running a negative loop in their head, I can absolutely guarantee you that their success rate - in anything - will be near zero. In her case, she claims that she wants to be a Jazz singer. She doesn't really want this though, does she? Instead she prefers dwelling in self-pity and having people feel sorry for her. It's comfortable and familiar.

Everyone feels sorry for themselves at times. It's natural. The key is to not get sucked into the pattern of becoming a permanent victim or what some call an "energy vampire". I strongly recommend that Rachel get a copy of the Celestine Prophecy, a 1993 novel by James Redfield. I read it 15 years ago and it changed my life. There's one chapter in particular where he compares "aggressors" and "victims". While at first glance they appear to be at opposite ends of the personality spectrum, in fact they're fairly closely connected. For both steal energy from others; the first through anger and sometimes violence and the second through guilt and pity. But the end result is the same: they coerce others to do what they want through negative manipulation.

I wish the very best for Rachel. Maybe one day she'll realize that she is much better off than 80% of the population of the earth. Maybe one day she'll realize that rather than constantly focusing on her own problems, she could be volunteering her time to help others less fortunate than her. Ultimately it's her choice and her responsibility. I, for one, won't be feeling sorry for her whichever path she chooses. Why? Because offering her pity simply helps her extend her current life of misery.

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