I’ve been thinking about how the human condition can be brutal. It feels to me as if there are four big archetypes playing out on a grand scale for many people individually and collectively. I call them the Big Four: Victim, Tyrant, Rebel, Savior. The United States as a country appears to be processing this deeply on a political level and it is positively… excruciating. But of course it is happening globally too. (And, if you’re not feeling any of this, then congratulations!)
We tend to bounce around from feeling victimized by life circumstances (VICTIM), to playing out the (TYRANT) to ourselves and others, to rebelling against everything (REBEL)… to wanting someone or something to come in and save us (SAVIOR). Damn. And by the way… who doesn’t feel so justified to rebel or to be a tyrant when it feels ‘warranted?’ (Full disclosure: rebel should have been my middle name.)
When you’re swallowed up inside one of these “BIG Four” it sure feels crummy. So what to do? Years ago, I learned some tricks from a great enlightenment teacher, Leslie Temple-Thurston.
- The first step is to hold a state of witnessing. Many spiritual traditions such as Buddhism and others talk about being a ‘witness.’ Holding the ‘witness state’ means to me that you are able to call on a greater, wiser part of yourself – soul, presence, higher self – whatever you want to call it.
So instead of feeling all swallowed up inside the victim, for example, that you call on your witness self at the same time you are allowing the feelings of being victimized to be there. This is not spiritual bypassing. It is the opposite of spiritual bypassing. (It is also not a substitute for working with a mental health professional, therapist, etc…) It is calling on your inner strength to be present even though you are aware that you have strong feelings, such as those of being a victim, to pass through you. It can be intense but the witness can help you in recognizing that: yes, right now I feel like a victim… but this is going to change and I am willing to allow the feelings to be there… maybe breathe, go for a walk, talk to somebody, journal, pet your cat, exercise, go out in nature… The witness holds a state of presence that says “I will allow the intensity to pass through me as I know that the intensity will shift… and I know that I am greater than these feelings moving through me right now.”
- So once we have a witness, here’s step two: it’s an exercise called a square. Let’s do one together. Squares are a processing method for releasing the intensity of being in these opposite states. We do them by looking at our fears and desires. For example, let’s look at the duality of victim/tyrant. It’s kind of like doing a Pros/Cons list. Ever done those? Except here we look at desires and fears:
Desire to be a Victim | Fear of being a victim
Desire to be a tyrant | Fear of being a tyrant
Now we just feel into each quadrant of the square and complete it. I’ll start them off separately.
Desire to be a victim
It feels familiar. It feels righteous. Poor me. People will sympathize with me (how yummy is that?). People will come to my rescue (yes, thanks). I get to be justified in my anger about a situation because I’m a victim.
Fear of being a victim
It feels like a lot of shame. Want to hide from showing myself as a victim. I should be stronger and prouder than being a victim.
Desire to be a tyrant:
Being a tyrant is totally justified towards someone who has victimized me or others. I get to feel powerful if I’m being a tyrant.
Fear of being a tyrant:
People will hate me if I’m a tyrant. I will hate myself if I am a tyrant to others.
- After you flush out all of the desires and fears around being a victim and/or a tyrant, (I only scratched the surface in the example!) then step three (and this is the most important piece!) is to OFFER IT UP as a prayer! For example:
Dear Universe (or Essence, Higher Power, Spirit, God, Goddess, Higher Self, Universal Mystery..choose your own)
I hereby offer up all of these desires and fears around being a victim and tyrant. I ask for clearing of these polarized states of consciousness, so that I may release them and come into a greater equanimity, a greater awareness, have some healing and move more fully into clarity, impeccability, integrity and presence in my life.
Thank you as I know it will be done.
- Step four is then you sit for a few minutes. Meditate for a bit. Notice if you have a sense of things shifting. More awareness may come. There may be a sense of Grace coming in. You have been courageous in facing your own shadow! You may receive insights into your own processing or you may receive some clarity. You may also see other polarized states that you can then also do a square on.
I wish you peace and release in taming the Big Four!
Blessings on your day!
© Kathy Stanley
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