Where do you get stuck in victim-mindset?
A couple of years ago, I attended a mindfulness training at a beautiful ashram in the Bahamas—all beach and sand and sun, open-air rooms on the waterfront, vegetarian meals, and a large platform for meditation surrounded by water and palm trees.
Everyone was there to attend the same training; workshops were offered each day, and there was a packed calendar of speakers. A meditation began at five o’clock every morning. Each day had a gentle rhythm to it—exactly what you’d expect of ashram life.
The very first morning, as I prepared a cup of tea and casually observed the people around me, I noticed a crowd forming. A man wearing a yellow robe stood before the group, who immediately created an altar for him. He was clearly their guru. Suddenly, hundreds of students had gathered, all dressed in yellow, and they started chanting. There was palpable worship energy being generated by the people.
It started to feel like I was in the scene of a movie. The mimicry of the moment felt off—as though every worshiper would have boarded a spaceship for that guy right then, without thinking about what they were doing and why. At the same time, it was a testament to the power people can create through belief.
The following day, I woke up and thought I’d actually go check the guru out. That was outside my norm—my childhood patterned belief of exclusion always kept me outside of groups and gatherings. I’m either in the front of the room or sitting out in the hall, but I’m never in the middle.
For years, that patterned belief limited me. I struggled with resentment and anger because I never understood why I was always outside. I believed I was a victim, and I would blame others for not including me—even though the truth was I had spent my whole life learning to adhere to a messy, self-exclusionary pattern.
But at that moment, in that ashram, standing in a crowd before a guru, after doing years of personal development work on myself, I understood why I’d always taken on the role of the outsider.
When I started doing the work of digging into my limiting beliefs and partnering that work with mindfulness, I woke up. There, in that ashram, was my awakening. The moment I walked away from that crowded platform area where the guru had been, the energy felt so much freer. It was like I could breathe again. I realized I belonged outside the crowd that stood in front of the guru rather than in it. I liked the perspective of the outsider, of seeing the whole picture. I didn’t want to be in the middle because I’d lose that overall perspective.
So, I got my morning tea and found a little bench outside the platform area, and I just sat there and watched the rest of the morning unfold. For a moment, I thought, Oh, this is just like when I was a kid. Maybe I should… And then a little voice in my head quietly said, But perhaps this is giving you a different perspective that you need.
So I observed how much better it felt to be on the outside. For the first time, I gave myself permission to sit outside and watch the group from a distance—as an invitation to myself. It was a beautiful wake-up call.
As you’ll discover on your own journey to mindfulness and enlightenment and wholeness, there are people along the way who will tell you that their way to the mountaintop is the only way. They’ll try to teach you that you can’t get there unless you go through them. But that’s just not true. The only way to your mountaintop is your way.
Now, I’ve fully stepped into the awareness that my wounds are my wisdom—that I am only a victim if I choose to be. My suffering has been my most outstanding teacher. I have found value in all the years of stress, trauma, and pain of being an outsider because it’s made me who I am. All along, those experiences were an invitation for me to rise to the highest occasion of my life. They were experiences I had for a purpose. Because there, in that ashram, staring at that guru and the crowd he had generated, I realized: I get to choose. I can stand at the front of the room or remove myself willingly. But I am not a victim. The choice is mine.
What if the very things you feel victimized about were actually given to you as a gift?
In this crazy life, it’s easy to get stuck in chaos, confusion, and unhealthy states of mind. If you have no experience shutting up and sitting when these challenges show up, you are not yet a master of yourself. No matter the situation, agreeable or disagreeable, it is your way of being in it that matters. Only through the continuity of committed practice will you arrive at the marrow of mindfulness and acquire its true gifts and strengths.
At the end of the day, it’s about waking up and remembering who you really are. It’s about finding your most profound truth and bringing it to light. It’s about answering the question, “Who am I to be great?”
Really, who are you not to be?
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