You are free to choose.

Are you a victim or a creator? It’s important to know. Your future-self hinges on the distinction. Your choice creates a future of freedom or a future of decisions made in fear.

Creators understand that they always have a choice. Always. They are free to choose action, response, relationships, careers, hopes, dreams, and desires. Creators understand that creation-making is a slow process with gains and losses, ups and downs, and is designed with a long-game perspective. Creators understand this moment is a choice, right now, and if I choose X it means that I am letting go of Y, and I choose to let go of, change my perspective about, adjust, or modify Y because I chose X. I chose.  

Victims understand that they are not free to choose. Life’s circumstances create obstacles, facts, barriers, hardships, adversities, relationships and disasters that circumvent their true choice. Victims understand that life is happening to them. They understand that their will must be sacrificed for this job, child, task, person, event because it is their responsibility to do, complete, or start XYZ. Victims understand that complaining, defending, feeling sorry for oneself, and feeling outrage at the unfairness of it all are justifiable because of their burden. Victims are convinced they’re being treated unfairly by fate, god, others, oppressors, managers, parents, or partners.

At any point in your life, you can transform the victim into the creator.

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
it was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond
or the river of your imagination
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
— Mary Oliver, Mornings at Blackwater, from Red Bird

My beloved student, who I’ll call Debbie, has been mentoring with me for a year unlearning the victim mindset that resulted from the shame and conditioning her parents consciously and unconsciously passed to her from their intentional and unintentional choices. Her life, from early childhood onward, has been a paralyzing, suffocating, shameful, demoralizing, limiting restriction. The message she repeatedly received, by parents who love her and don’t know how to love themselves, was one of inadequacy. Debbie was broken. And, damn it, she can be fixed. We can help her become the better person and realize her full potential. Our job as parents is to make sure that we fix what’s broken so that she doesn’t suffer. Our job is to make sure she looks, behaves, and thinks perfectly.  So, Debbie grew up restricting herself. I want X, but I must deny and choose Y instead because that is what I should do to realize my potential.

To be clear, Debbie does not blame her parents: she is not a victim to them, she does not make excuses because her childhood was incredibly traumatic, she does not lash out at them, criticize them, or complain about them. No, Debbie is realizing that her victim-venting turned inward on herself. Debbie shared this momentous, gravitational shift with me yesterday,

I’ve had a belief for fifty years that my body has always needed fixing. And I revolt or sneak in response. Then I apply that same controlling berating voice inwardly to myself.

Her victim thinking was an internal act of self-defiance, shaped as an adaption in early childhood, that grew exponentially throughout adulthood until the belief became her daily “anger tape” of victim-venting in self-pity, and complaint because she is misunderstood: I am the one who must do X, it’s always my responsibility to do Y, I should do Q if I want P, my will must be sacrificed for my body, this garden, my partner.

Until yesterday, when Debbie told me that she heard her inner-dialogue between her victim-self and creator-self. In that moment, she heard victim-self complain about the need to pull the weeds because she “should”, as she simultaneously heard her creator-self question if that was true. Do I really have to pull the weeds? No. I have a choice. What do I want to do with the choice? This shift may sound small, believe me, it was seismic. As Debbie excitedly explained to me,

I play the anger tape inside my head. Yesterday [ in the garden] I snapped and realized I can do whatever I want. It felt monumental, though this choice [to abandon the weeds] was tiny. What if I don’t pull these weeds? What would I do if I could do whatever I want? What would I eat if I could eat whatever I want?

A mind-blowing monumental shift over a tiny choice. BAM. Debbie understood in the cells, bones and tissues of her body, that she is the creator of her own destiny. If I can choose what I want to do, I can also choose what I want to eat. If I can choose what I want to eat, what the hell else I have been restricting or denying, and then getting angry about because I really want the very thing I deny myself.

Love. Connection. Intimacy. Trust. Hope. Compassion. Freedom.

Join the conversation

You are the creator of your own destiny too.

What do you want to feel, do or be?

Who or what do you blame because you don’t have what you desire?

The next time you hear the victim-ventor playing the anger-tape in your head, pause. Ask your creator-self: “What do I really want to do right now? If I say yes to this, what do I choose to say no to?