What is our story after someone hurts us? The story we tell will determine how we handle our hurt. Does our story make that someone a horrible person who has no positive qualities? Do we separate that person from their action or do we totally define that person by their action? We have each probably known people who once we disappoint them, will have nothing to do with us. They do not tell us why they are cutting us off, nor do they give us a chance to repair the relationship. The frightening part is how do they know their interpretation of what we did is the correct one?
The couples who do well in their relationships are the ones who seek to repair the relationship when something hurtful happens. We need to tell a story that allows for repair through a variety of interpretations.
When we hurt someone else, what story do we tell ourselves to explain or justify what we did? In some stories, we retaliate by justifying our actions by claiming that we are the victim. Look at the ways people use the victim role to tell a story that justifies their own ugly actions. "Look what you made me do." "You started it." Are we laying the blame for our hurtful actions on the one we have injured? So often, many of us do not take responsibility for our actions but try to justify our actions by blaming others- our spouse, our parents- the list goes on. This means that we are not responsible for our actions and therefore, we are not about to change, take ownership or say we are sorry.
At the core of victim-thinking
is the dangerous belief
that if we're a victim of something,
then the rules don't apply to us.
When we play the role of the victim, our actions can be crueler than what we experienced from the person who injured us. At the core of victim-thinking is the dangerous belief that if we're a victim of something, then the rules don't apply to us.
So, when we have hurt another person, what is our story? Are we taking responsibility for our actions or do we justify our actions by making ourselves out to be the victim?
We have seen people who mistreat their spouse until the spouse has enough and divorces that person. Then we have seen that person harass and torment the ex-spouse; they do things to make life miserable for their ex. Why? Because they believe they are the victim and have the right to punish their ex. They do not see their part in the marriage not working. Some ex-spouses even do this after they have remarried. They have to get even. How sad to give the ex that much power over their lives.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700