There are some people (usually people close to us, within our inner circle) who just seem to keep attacking us, talking about us behind our back, disrespecting us and getting on our last nerve. It’s just so frustrating.
In my work with people, it is not uncommon for me to meet someone who seems to be attracting a person (or more often numerous people) who are “always” mistreating them unjustly, setting up traps and making snide comments just to gaslight them; “It just makes me so mad.” Or if they’ve been betrayed, they assert, “I can’t trust anyone.”
What I find most interesting is that if I am able to work with this person, more often than not, the person has accepted the role of the victim. Something has happened in this person’s past that has made them feel as though people are looking for opportunities to victimize them.
Whatsoever you seek, you will find
This applies to everything. You will find whatever it is that you are looking for. If you’re looking for someone to victimize you, you will find what you are looking for.
Even if it’s not true
For example, let’s say I’ve worked very hard to raise my children to be respectful and controlled in public. I’ve expended a lot of effort and commitment and my children are always well-behaved in public.
One day, following an intense day, I just wanted to go to a restaurant and enjoy a peaceful meeting on the patio, relax and watch the sunset; an effective method of centering and getting in tune with myself.
In walks this man with three kids that are totally uncontrolled, the kids are running wild, chasing each other crawling around under the tables, invading other peoples’ space, being noisy and disrespectful. With each passing moment, I am getting more and more agitated.
I decide I am going to confront the man and suggest that he learn how to manage his madhouse because he’s disrespecting me and everyone else out here, which I can see are also very annoyed.
“So,” I say, “That’s an active bunch of kids you have there…”
“Oh,” he responds as if he was just awakened from trance, “Yes. I suppose we’re all a little out of sorts at the moment.”
“I’d say so,” I say, as I’m trying to find the words to get him to take charge of his unbridled circus act, he continues…
“We just came from the hospital. Their mother – my wife – just died, and I suppose we’re all just a bit out of sorts and we just don’t know how to act, or deal with it all, at the moment.”*
What I thought was a personal attack on my right to a peaceful, relaxing afternoon could instantly reframe if I allow myself to be open to what is actually happening; if I allow enough space for more information.
If I have been in an abusive relationship, future relationships may suffer from my being on the lookout for any indication that I might be being set-up to be abused again. This can make us superbly sensitive to the slightest body language, voice inflection or gesture because we are on the lookout for these clues. Because we are seeking them, we find them (whether they are correctly interpreted, or not).
What a waste of effort, concern and potentially hurt feelings we put ourselves through in order to protect us from demons that may not exist.
If you go to a car lot and find a car that you like; you think, “Oh, what a wonderful car. This is so nice and unique, a great fit for me.” From that point on – though you’ve never seen one before – now you see people driving these cars all over town. This recognition triggers what is known as the reticular activating system or RAS and causes you to notice that thing that has been brought to your attention.
So if you’ve been with a controlling person – and have sworn off every being controlled again – the slightest gesture could be interpreted as an assault on your individual rights and you fight to defend yourself against your assailant.
When would now be a good time to be looking for the beauty in all things?
If you seek it – you will find it.
* = inspired by a Stephen Covey paradigm shift