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You need never be a victim again. Ever But in order to function as a non-victim, you must take a hard look at yourself, and learn to recognize the numerous situations in which your strings are being pulled by others.
Your antivictimization stance will involve a great deal more than simply memorizing some assertive techniques and then taking a few risks when other people conspire to manipulate or control your behavior. You probably have already noticed that Earth seems to be a planet on which virtually all the human residents make regular attempts to control each other. And they have evolved unique institutions which are highly accomplished at this regulation. But if you are one of those being governed against your will or better judgment, you are a victim.
It is quite possible to avoid life's victim traps without having to resort to victimizing behavior yourself. To do this, you can begin to redefine what you expect for yourself during your brief visit on this planet. You can start, I recommend, by expecting to be a non-victim, and by looking more carefully at how you behave as a victim.What Is A Victim?
You are being victimized whenever you find yourself out of control of your life. The key word is CONTROL. If you are not pulling the strings, then you are being manipulated by someone or something else. You can be victimized in an endless number of ways.
A victim as described here is not "first of all" someone who is taken advantage of through criminal activity. You can be robbed or swindled in much more damaging ways when you give up your emotional and behavioral controls in the course ofeveryday life, through forces of habit.
Victims are first of all people who run their lives according to the dictates of others. They find themselves doing things they really would rather not do, or being manipulated into activities loaded with unnecessary personal sacrifice that breeds hidden resentment. To be victimized, as I use the word here, means to be governed and checked by forces outside yourself; and while these forces are unquestionably ubiquitous in our culture, YOU CAN RARELY BE VICTIMIZED UNLESS YOU ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN. Yes, people victimize themselves in numerous ways, throughout the everyday business of running their lives.
Victims almost always operate from weakness. They let themselves be dominated, pushed around, because they often feel they are not smart enough or strong enough to be in charge of their lives. So they hand their own strings over to someone "smarter" or "stronger," rather than take the risks involved in being self-assertive.
You are a victim when your life is not working for you. If you are behaving in self-defeating ways, if you are miserable, out of sorts, hurt, anxious, afraid to be yourself, or in other similar states which immobilize you, if you aren't functioning in a self-enhancing manner, or if you feel as if you are being manipulated by forces outside of yourself, then you are a victim-and it is my contention that your own victimization is never worth defending. If you agree, then you will be asking: What about relief from victimization? What about freedom?What Is Freedom?
No one is handed freedom on a platter. You must make your own freedom. If someone hands it to you, it is not freedom at all, but the alms of a benefactor who willinvariably ask a price of you in return.
Freedom means you are unobstructed in ruling your own life as you choose. Anything less is a form of slavery. If you cannot be unrestrained in making choices, in living as you dictate, in doing as you please with your body (provided your pleasure does not interfere with anyone else's freedom), then you are without the command I am talking about, and in essence you are being victimized.
To be free does not mean denying your responsibilities to your loved ones and your fellow man. Indeed, it includes the freedom to make choices to be responsible. But nowhere is it dictated that you must be what others want you to be when their wishes conflict with what you want for yourself. You can be responsible and free. Most of the people who wilt try to tell you that you cannot, who will label your push for freedom "selfish," will turn out to have measures of authority over your life, and will really be protesting your threat to the holds you have allowed them to have on you. If they can help you feel selfish, they've contributed to your feeling guilty, and immobilized you again.
The ancient philosopher Epictetus wrote of freedom in this line from his Discourses: "No man is free who is not master of himself."
Reread that quote carefully. If you are not the master of yourself, then by this definition you are not free. You do not have to be overtly powerful and exert influence over others to be free, nor is it necessary to intimidate others, nor to try to bully people into submission in order to prove your own mastery.
The freest people in the world are those who have senses of inner peace about themselves: They simply refuse to be swayed by the whimsof others, and are quietly effective at running their own lives. These people enjoy freedom from role definitions in which they must behave in certain ways because they are parents, employees, Americans, or even adults; they enjoy freedom to breathe whatever air they choose, in whatever location, without worrying about how everyone else feels about their choices. They are responsible people, but they are not enslaved by other people's selfish interpretations of what responsibility is.
Freedom is something you must insist upon. As you read through this book, you will become aware of what at first may appear to be meaningless trifles of victimization imposed by others, but which are really efforts to seize your strings and to pull you in some direction that will end your freedom, however briefly or however subtly.
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