I have a friend who once said I am an anxious driver.
This is interesting because I have never thought of myself as an anxious driver.
Sometimes a little too relaxed, in fact.
So I had to ask myself, where does this perception come from?
The answer may be that the first time I was in the car with him we were in a really hilly place, and on a couple of occasions I had trouble with the hill starts.
So, yes I was a little anxious at that time, but does that make me an 'anxious driver'?
But what happened after that? He became anxious being with me in the car, because that one time I had shown some incompetency and was indeed, a little anxious.
So then his perception of me being an anxious driver became real-
because his anxiety was making me anxious!
This 'label' he had given me self-perpetuated
There are so many times I can think of when I have been labelled, judged, or told 'I am this way' by somebody (or by myself), and then after the fact it has become true.
This is how a bully operates: they know that by defining someone with a word, whatever it is, will have an impact because that person will start to believe it. Think about someone stuck in a cycle of domestic abuse: they may be called 'ugly', 'lazy', or told they don't do something right.
Because this is a perception of someone so close to you, you do believe it, and more and more examples manifest to prove that perception correct. The victim starts to behave this way because they think its 'just the way I am'.
But it's not just the bully: we do it to ourselves and to others all the time!
A friend said to me the other day: ''how can we judge someone for having an imperfection, simply because it's a different imperfection than our own?'' Wise words!
Next time someone calls you something, anything, good or bad, just consider it. REALLY consider it: are you actually that way? Why did the person say that? Is it actually just a reflection of the other person's emotion/ way of being? (For example- did my friend call me an anxious driver because in fact he was the one that was anxious?)
Have you noticed that I have used a few words in the passages above to describe other people, that could also self-perpetuate a person's reality? I would like to address these two words, because I think they are two of the most damaging words we can use.
The first one is 'bully'. While I absolutely 100% believe that 'bullying' should be stopped in its tracks (and that can include all forms- from the child calling another child names in the playground, to domestic violence), I think calling someone a 'bully' is the worst way to deal with the problem. All we are doing in that case is labelling the child, or the abuser, and giving them an identity. What we are talking about here is the ego. The ego loves an identity! The ego is the mind, the way we perceive the world around us: it is everything that we are NOT. Calling someone a bully will perpetuate into that person's reality by giving the ego an identity... it will cling on to the story and create a pattern out of it.
The second word I would like to address is 'victim'. This works in a very similar way in that the ego identifies with it. I am not talking about the 'EGO' like the big 'I' that thinks 'I am better than everyone else', I mean the ego that absorbs information and creates an identity for the person out of what it takes in. So by someone thinking of themselves as a victim: that is exactly what they become. And that will never disappear for as long as the story exists, because the ego loves a good story, even a painful one.
This is why I am currently very concerned about the new wave of the 'feminist' movement. While it is important to keep informed about the things that are happening to women, the more you know, the more angry you get, the more a woman can identify herself as a victim.
There was a time when I couldn't believe that anyone would say that they weren't a feminist.
I would think: but you have to be blind not to see that women are suppressed and 'second' to men. I would read about people who would quibble over the word 'feminist', saying things like 'I am not a feminist, I am an equalist' or a 'humanist', or whatever.
And I would think, yes, but its the women that need the help the most, that's why we call it feminist. All of this is true, of course, but only because women as a collective have derived an identity from it: we are the victims, the second class ones, we need to fight for our rights.
I came to realise that while a person can let go of the 'victim' personally, often they still hold this as a collective. And this is true for any minority: black people, LGBT, Jews... you name it.
They keep identifying with the collective 'victim', and keep being victimised.
I think me saying all this could ruffle a few feathers... so let me be clear:
I am not saying that it is the fault of these minorities for what they have been through, or that somehow they could have avoided it. Everything has happened already, and there is absolutely NOTHING we can do to change the past.
The question is: how do you want your future to look? Do you want to still be a victim?
Then keep believing that you are one, personally or collectively. If you do not want to be a victim: let that image of yourself go. Let go of the anger you hold against the person/ people that did it to you, and realise they hurt themselves as much as they hurt you.
Live your life as a whole, undamaged person, and that is what you will be.
Put simply: DO NOT LET A WORD DEFINE YOU.
By the way I have seen people/ NGOs that have realised this and have changed the word 'victim' to 'survivor': but this still sets these people apart from the perpetrators or other people, and still takes their identity from what happened to them in the past. To me it makes no difference which word is used: they are still made to feel somehow damaged or different to other people.
We can look at the government and media, as well, as using these 'victim' words to create fear in a country. We are told we should be scared of terrorist attacks, and lo and behold, there are increasingly more terrorist attacks. The recent Brexit issue can be used as an example: we are told 'Britain is divided', and from the looks of Facebook the next day that certainly became true, didn't it? We need to wake up to these tactics: if we are told, as a country, that we are 'victims' or 'divided', or whatever else: it will become true, because the collective believes it, speaks it, lives and breathes it.
I asked you the question above: do you still want to be a victim?
Now let's consider that for a second. While your mind may clearly be laughing saying: 'of course not, don't be so stupid!', really consider it. Do you tell stories to people about the ills that have been done to you/ the country or minority you are in? Do you complain about the government/ work/ whatever else? Do you secretly like these things, because they define you, give you a past, and allow you to keep doing things the way you are doing them?
''When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.'' - Eckhart Tolle.
When it comes to being a victim/ feminist/ political activist or whatever else, I am not saying that you should ignore what happened to you or what you are fighting for, not to seek justice or stop it from happening again. What I am saying is not to seek your own identity from these things, not to be angry at what happened/ is happening to you, but to move forward in your goals in love for yourself and for everyone else involved. By getting sucked into these labels and identifying with them, we let our ego take over and lose ourselves. And...
We become less effective in our life goals.
Let's move away from the word 'victim' and think of a word that you have been called before, that you maybe identify personally with. One may have come up for you already, as you have been reading this. A childhood memory, or something someone said to you yesterday that still hurts.
Let's take the example that as a child I was called 'shy'. People have said to me that they are surprised that I chose a job where I would be constantly forced into interaction with people and have to stand up in front of them and give speeches. Why were they surprised? Because they defined me by how I was in the past, not how I am NOW.
During my training for that job, my 'shy' identity was extremely apparent: every time I got up to speak I would shake and stutter, and the trainers would point it out, which would make it worse: again a self-perpetuating cycle. But once I had done it, only one time, broken the cycle by proving to myself that I AM NOT SHY, then I haven't had any troubles since.
So you see, with any word you can think of that you have been called, that you identify with yourself, that you constantly 'bully' yourself with: simply un-believe it and THEN it will cease to be true. Whereas most people think it is the other way around: it ceases to be true and then you can give yourself a different identity.
This whole article I have just written came about during an enlightening moment whilst I was reading 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle. When I truly saw, for the first time, that I AM none of these things that I label myself, or other people label me, or I torture myself with for 'being that way'. None of us are any of it: the ego invents all of it. I AM not anxious, I AM not angry, I AM not shy. But equally I AM not the good things that people could say about me: relaxed, brave, a good leader.
I can show traits of all these things, at certain moments, and they are a small part of me. but they do not define me. So why do I identify so strongly with them?
The only thing that I AM is the feeling I found that day, reading that book and considering it's message: I let go of all these labels, and I found what I truly am, underneath it all, the only thing that is truly worth being: PEACE.
And now I can move forward in my life by flowing through it, not getting stuck on issues or the question 'who am I'? That famous Descartes phrase ''I think therefore I am'' has completely gone out the window for me now. Actually I AM not my mind, not what people think of me, not my past, not my future, not attached to any of it.
Jesus teaches ''If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions... then come, follow me.''' (Matthew 12: 21.) To me, he is really saying: ''If you want to be perfect, let go of those labels, judgments and negative emotions that your ego possesses. That's the way to God, that's the way to Peace.''
And PEACE is just another word isn't it?
And words, in the end, are transient, meaning different things to different people at different times. Words are really sounds, sounds are frequency, frequency is energy, so
all these 'labels' are just energy...
let the energy of words and labels move through you, not to get stuck in you, and you will find the PEACE within you.