A few weeks ago I overheard a conversation between my Husband and a friend of his. The men were discussing a mutual acquaintance that is perpetually downtrodden. The focus
of their discussion continually sees the glass “half empty" as it were. Only hearing my Husband's end of the conversation, I was struck by something he said...he was agreeing with his friend that the gentlemen in question was a "Volunteer Victim".
Volunteer victim. Interesting choice of words.
Volunteer and victim are defined
as follows: Volunteer someone that chooses, makes an active choice, to freely undertake a task; Victim a person harmed, injured, (or worse) as a result of an accident or crime. But what of the individual that is a ‘victim’ by another cause? A victim
by their own hand. A victim because of their own choices?
freely volunteer to be a victim?
Why would someone choose victim hood or remain in a continuous state of drama?
To be clear, I am not speaking of accidents, legitimate illnesses, or the like. I am referring to people that drink and drive and complain about a ticket or arrest, people that spend frivolously and complain about living paycheck to
paycheck, people that choose not to work because having a job at gas station or fast food restaurant is ‘beneath’ them. People that don’t pay their taxes, find themselves in court, and scream that the government is out to get them.
People that drone on and on about how unfair life is because they are not part of the ‘haves’, consider themselves a ‘have not’, but have never done the work to get themselves out of their current situation. These types of people
are volunteer victims…people that have an incredible sense of entitlement – the world owes them.
We all know people that, to some degree, have the mindset
that the ‘sky is falling’ or ‘woe is me’. Whether these individuals are acquaintances, friends or family we have all had encounters with people that are somewhere on this spectrum.
It is relatively easy to ignore acquaintances, maybe a workplace colleague or neighbor that sees themselves on the receiving end of what they perceive as unjust circumstances. When the ‘volunteer victim’ is a friend or family
member, a loved one, that continually makes active choices to place themselves in unfortunate circumstances, the impact on our own lives has the potential to be disrupting and damaging.
Listening to someone constantly play the victim card, especially when they have created the situation that they are complaining about, often leaves the listener with feelings of resentment and anger, especially when opinions or advice is asked for and
ignored. We find ourselves confused and hurt because a loved one, a vibrant, talented, loving person, consistently places themselves in precarious predicaments. Often the crisis continues from one event to another, never allowing a place of calm
to exist for very long. These people live, thrive even, in a space of drama. Listening to them tends to leave us exhausted and drained.
Let us recognize that
life is hard enough without the additional drama that is caused by ‘bad’ choices. As the saying goes, ‘Sh#* happens” … created crisis are not needed or necessary.
We must recognize these individuals as the hurt souls that they are. These people have needs that are not able to be met within the confines of what we view as ‘good’ decisions. Any attention is ‘good’
attention for them – even if it comes it the form of ‘what the heck were you thinking?’.
Herein lies the lessons for us. It is not for us to feel
superior to these people because we view our own lives and choices to be better. It is not for us to pity these individuals because of their situation(s), nor, should we enable their behavior. It is when we remove ourselves from the judgement of others
and respect their journey, their choices, that we find our own soul growth.
It is our ego, the sense that we can help, can fix, can change the circumstances for another that
gets us in trouble. Feelings are hurt, resentment grows, anger festers. Removal of ego when dealing with volunteer victims allows us to lend an ear, establish boundaries, be in the moment, not try to ‘fix’ the situation, leave their
issues behind…and offer respect and love for the soul that is doing the best it can on this journey called life.
Reflection upon our own life reveals that there are
lessons to be learned from everyone. From some people we learn what not to do – we can choose to not emulate them. There are people we encounter that are beacons of light that we can only strive to be more like. No one way is right
or wrong…it just is…and it is our choice how to proceed with our own journey.
“Out beyond the ideas of wrong doing and right doing,
there is a field. I will meet you there” - Rumi