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The victim identity obscures joy

6 Apr 2024

Feeling like a victim in any circumstance can be helpful in an acute situation as a motivator to deal with and potentially create distance from an unhealthy or dangerous circumstance.

But when this feeling becomes an identity, it begins to filter and obscure the rest of life.

For me this identity was sneaky, it hid in my own assessment of being “depressed”. Something which I believed I was a victim to. Yet I failed to see how I was perpetuating the depression by holding on to the story and therefore a victim identity. Viewing life through this lens, everything was dulled and any joy was obscured.

I preemptively threw away possibilities because I didn’t believe they could be for me. I was on high alert for what could go wrong. Motivation to do anything was overcome by a belief that it wouldn’t work out anyway. That my fate was already sealed through this biological disadvantage and so the evidence was that the universe was not on my side.

What wasn’t clear until later was that I was (unknowingly) choosing to hold on to this identity. It was uncomfortable, but it was familiar.

That is until I discovered the possibility that identity itself may be an illusion. That any thought can’t possibly be representative of reality. A thought can only ever be a reflection, one that’s reflected and filtered through all the beliefs and conditioning that I’ve been subject to.

With this understanding, trusting my own thoughts less and less, attention began to shift toward reality. That which is knowable absolutely undeniably — before being filtered by thoughts — the immediate experiences of sight, sound, sensations.

In those I could find no victim. I could find no depression. I could find no story in which I had been dealt a bad hand, no evidence that the universe is against me. I could find nothing missing.

Instead I found only evidence that I’m here, alive, and that this simple, ordinary experience that I’d overlooked for my whole life is unbelievably mysterious, and perfect as it is. Nothing could be added to it, nothing could be taken away.

From this new ground, the whole story of my life lost its lustre. The whole story of being hard done by, the whole story of being a broken person, even the story of having achieved anything.

In an ultimate sleight of hand to avoid being discovered, the mind had asserted that completeness was somewhere out there. When this party trick was seen through, the drive to search for something or someone to complete or fulfil me was over. All along it was mere thoughts, momentary appearances, that complained of incompleteness. I knew, viscerally and undoubtedly that both completeness and incompleteness could only be manufactured by the mind.

The mind continues to play out these stories, and sometimes they’re still believed. But there is far less interest in them now. Because it’s clear that the reality in which those thoughts are appearing is already perfect and complete, even in its complexity and messiness. It’s clear that those stories are always coloured by past experiences, while that ground is completely untainted, unconditioned. Regardless of those stories, that ground is always here, ready to be noticed.

It’s here for you, too. Just look.

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Jordan West

Sydney, Australia

jordan [at] west.io | twitter | github | youtube | instagram