StoryHealing, Narcissism and the Ending the Victim/Perpetrator Paradigm.
For the past 14 years or so, I have been at the forefront of an exploration of consciousness that has involved story writing and telling onstage and the effects this has on trauma, life challenges and the experience of illness.
What I have found in hundreds of workshops and monologue performances is probably what many other type of therapeutic and spiritual process's have identified. I have gotten to see it and feel it not in theory, but in practice. Here is my big revelation:
There are essentially two types of ways people experience their own stories. One way, the most common way, is through a lens of victimization and perpetration. These people are attached to seeing themselves as special. Not one of the human race with the vast and infinite experience of all that is. Not one of the many who are dealing with the challenge of being alive and all that comes with it; loss, pain, health challenges, family trauma and the existential grief that accompanies the experience of being human. These people are stuck in the loop of their story that “I am a victim…my worst is worse than your worst. I am so special in my suffering, this happened to me and it is so bad and I did not deserve it”
And more challenging than this is that many of them turn around and one way or another use their suffering as a justification to act out on others with anger, rage or betrayal. The story goes “ I deserve it or I am entitled to this acting out because I have suffered”
Now here is the kicker to all of this. In my hundreds of workings with people and their traumas and their stories; it is almost more often than not, the people who have the more minor diagnosis or who have much greater financial resources or who have more opportunities to heal that are the ones stuck in the victim/perpetrator paradigm.
The people I have worked with who have suffered with the most extreme cancer diagnosis and are close to death, the homeless woman with her four children from Mexico, the veteran who has lost a child from his own exposure to depleted uranium. The ones with real “reason” according to worldly standards to bemoan their fate, offer clear and heartfelt stories that do not include feeling sorry for themselves. These are the people who stand up and take what life has offered them and find gratitude for whatever life gives them this day. Who truly offer wisdom and insight from the place of deep humanity and humility.
I have offered a space for many people to share their stories over the years, but these memorable resilient ones have been my teachers.
Years ago, I had the excellent fortune to sit with two guru type teachers who basically told me to get over myself. They said (or the way I heard them) was that service is the way to enlightenment. And that trust/faith coupled with a commitment to kindness is the only road to take towards happiness on this planet. Lastly, to know that yes, I am valuable. But not more (or less) valuable than any other person on earth. One of billions. Showing up and living.That is all.
Wow; years later I see these teachings and lessons manifested in my work. And beyond it, I see it manifested on the planet.
I really no longer find the east coast neurotic brand of comedy that I grew up with funny. I am so over narcissism and it’s accompanying cleverness, whether it is offered by Woody Allen or Jerry Seinfeld. Over-indulgent “artists” who only work for their own right to “express” themselves are of no interest to me (truly, I lived with one). True artists who move beyond ego- based cleverness to a deep sharing from the Soul, whether pathos or comedic are of great interest and in deep service inspiring others.
As storytellers, healers or artists if our work is not done in the Spirit of service, what point is it? In the face of all that is happening on the planet, personally, I am so over narcissism. The world faces enormous challenges. Each of us faces enormous challenges. Honesty and authenticity are the way out of the loop. As are kindness and a well developed ability to set our own "limited" story aside to show up for others with good-will and a basic sense of caring.
Oh, and did I mention courage? Courage to let it go. Courage to make it not all about you. Courage to get over yourself and your triggers. At some point, don’t we just have to let them drop and say “enough”? Personally, I find people’s triggers, my own and others so boring. Jeez, show some strength of character. It is not all so damn precious.
I’ve led workshops where people’s legs have been blown off at the age of eighteen, where people in hospice are looking at how they will say good-bye to their Beloved daughter, where people live in places like Gaza which is essentially a dangerous, oppressed illegal holding tank for humans. A place where a young Palestinian girl just wants to be allowed to leave for college, a home, a normal life elsewhere but is forbidden.
You are I are blessed. If you are reading this, I know you and I know that you are blessed. You are American or Canadian or European. You have a computer. You have access to money and clean water. You have food and shelter. So, get over it. That is the real invitation. For all of us, myself included.
Stop indulging your story. Tell the truth. You are more than that victim story. You are free. You are freedom Herself.
I am so very grateful to those who rise above their own circumstances and triggers to show me a different perspective.
This week I moved into a new house with a second floor from which we can see the top of the trees. It was a great reminder that I cannot always see the bigger picture but if I can pause, I can get a view above the trees. Not on the ground running in small circles, limited in vision and scope.
Sometimes I just want to yell at the top of my lungs years something said to me years ago by the teacher Gangaji “ Neither indulge your emotions nor deny them” Sometime I want to yell it to myself (and do!) and sometimes to others.
Think about that for a moment. Neither indulge nor deny. To me this is just meeting life on life’s terms allowing ourselves to be human and alive. Yes, we feel. But feeling is only the tip of the iceberg.
And the story is just a story and it too is always changing. That is the cycle of it all. And if you can go inside and check for one moment and find that you are bigger than your story, then the neurotic, damaging and unproductive narcissism fed to us by family and culture will recede into the background for good.
And then, you’ll have a real story to tell~