From victim to protagonist
ALDOUS HUXLEY says, “Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” Today, I’d like to write about precisely this.
The need to find some type of reason, sense, and explanation for anything and everything that surrounds us and happens in our reality as individuals is a strongly rooted trait of my personality, and it has been ever since my childhood. Anything from minute details that are perhaps insignificant and lack importance for others, to bigger things – everything, for me, is a motive for profound reflection. Maturity has not brought about any type of change in my continued need to analyze and rationalize, and the “big questions” are still the central theme of my existence, whether this be through literature or through direct dialog with other similar-minded people.
I must admit that it’s difficult for me to accept that, in life, everything boils down to a matter of “passing time” and that personal realization consists, basically, of achieving professional, financial, and social goals. I understand that, for some, their existence is, in itself, too complicated and difficult for reflecting on philosophical matters. The priority for them is being able to subsist. I am aware of the fact that, as Abraham Maslow would say, higher-level motivations focused on personal realization and growth cannot be reached without first having satisfied basic needs that are of primary importance. Despite this, finding a meaning and a value to everything that happens in our lives has always been a priority for me.
Years of experience as a psychological professional have brought me to conclude that the things that happen to us end up giving a certain meaning to us, which provides value to our existence — no matter how hard that existence may seem.
Every life experience holds an underlying lesson.
“In moments of great adversity, all noble souls learn to know themselves better”. SCHILLE
And it is in that moment –faced with reality, standing before life and its teachings– that we decide to become victims or protagonists.
Happiness has never been the legacy of passivity, nor has it been the slave of emotion, nor the slave of the immediate reaction, which flees from understanding and the search for meaning.
The meaning that we are searching for to things that happen to us throughout our existence is not found in the subjective, emotional evaluation that we make of those things; instead, it is in the very value that defines us as human beings with innate superior qualities, willing to respond to the challenges with which life presents us.
Daily difficulties, no matter how unusual and unfortunate they may seem to us, can become a preamble for a “new beginning” that is even more uplifting than the previous one – or they can also worsen the situation a lot more if we try to dodge them. It doesn’t matter how difficult or easy the scenes around which your life unfolds are. Remember that, above everything else, we are better than any condition that we have to face and nothing can topple our exceptional nature as the “protagonists” of our existence.
As protagonists, we are able to assume our responsibility when faced with the circumstances of life. As victims, we tend to lay blame (on circumstances and people). As protagonists, we become interested in discovering how we may have contributed to creating the situation that we find ourselves in. As victims, we pay more attention to “who” or “what” has harmed us. As protagonists, we choose to go about life with our best foot forward and refuse the illusion that something is different from what it is. As victims, we refuse the reality of the situation and we give up, neglecting the circumstances. As protagonists, we feel prepared to assume our life conditions and we accept them as challenges and new hurdles to overcome. As victims, we give up on the command of ourselves and we lose our ability to respond, becoming slaves of whatever happens to us. As protagonists, we get ready to take control and choose our best response – a response that helps us to overcome any circumstance.
The protagonist focuses on action. The victim focuses on the fruits of his or her actions. The protagonist lives awake and aware. The victim lives asleep and unaware.
“While those with a simple mind cling on to their actions and are concerned about the results, the wise man is free from all attachments. Not blinding himself by success, nor suffering anxiety over his failure, he offers his actions, in the fire of virtue. At peace with whatever happens, unattached to the pleasure of victory, and to the pain of defeat, he acts with full consciousness. He who performs his duty without worrying about the results is a true man of wisdom.”
Fragment of The Bagahvad Gita adapted by Fred Kofman.