None of my clients are excited when we talk about the Victim Archetype. Some of them tell me, that they are not a victim and hope that this will be the end of the conversation. The Victim Archetype is for sure the most unwanted Archetype of all and that is for a reason: it is highlighting our most vulnerable side and makes us feel uncomfortable just thinking about the fact we could be exposed. Nevertheless, it is an Archetypal pattern of behaviour that, in the context of being victimised, all humans share. Recognizing this can be the first step in learning from this Archetype rather than outright rejecting it.
There is a difference between the Victim Archetype and ‘being a victim’ as we would often refer to it in our day-to-day life. Like all Archetypes also the Victim Archetype has a shadow and light side. The shadow side of the Victim is not the fact of ‘being a Victim’ - which happens to all of us many times throughout life - it is the desire of wanting to remain in the Victim position. That sounds counterintuitive, but often this is how we behave when we expect to get something out of it. This can show in continuous complaining how one has been wronged and convinced that there is nothing they can do about it. In this context it means we avoid to take action.
And while there is truth in the side things that can be out of our control and can have undesirable outcomes, we always have a choice on how to respond to a situation. If for example someone has just lost their job, it is obviously something outside of the control of the individual but staying in the state of blaming is not empowering nor it is helping to improve the situation. Once a person has taken steps to change the situation, in this case maybe start looking for a new job and maybe evening identifying positive aspects within that new reality, the Victim has found new strength and has reclaimed their power. That means a person has operated from within the light aspects of the Victim Archetype. This is after all an empowering state of being, since it keeps us moving. When we complaint and don’t do anything to improve a situation, we feel stuck and this is not empowering at all. That is how simple it is, but not necessarily easy.
Most of us recognize the disempowered side of the Victim, the version of the Victim that is lost in an overbearing situation. All of us would have experienced that and some of us would have even experienced severe trauma from such an event. And interestingly some people after some processing gain strength and a new level of empowerment from it. That transformation is pointing to the light side of the Victim Archetype, the side that leads us on a path of empowerment and transformation.
Let’s consider that we all have a container in our psyche that holds the entire history of our being wounded: betrayal, abandonment, shame and we call it ‘Victim’. This same container also holds the story of our healing and transcending of the wound into the empowered realm. Together this makes up the Victim Archetype guiding us through these storylines. How we relate to the Victim Archetype depends on which side we pay our attention to.
How do we raise from the Ashes?
So how can we raise from the ashes and reclaim lost empowerment? The first is step is to accept that a situation outside of our control has occurred and that it is ok to let the steam off initially or in rather traumatic situations to go through a grieving process. Life can be quite tough and testing and there is no way of avoiding such challenges.
But there comes the time when you want to resume your life and not let a devastating experience dictate how you are going to react and limit your life. A really good example of a person who has mastered this process going through a extremely traumatic event is: Tuira Pitt. In 2011 she was caught in a bush fire while competing in the Ultramarathon event in the Australian Kimberly region and suffered burns to 65 percent of her body. I have no words for what this would have been like for her, and we would need to ask her about that. Over several years she restored her body, worked on her mindset, became a mum and is now an international motivational speaker, author and athlete. That is a person who has turned the Victim into its most powerful aspect.
The toughest part is overcoming the attachment to the Victim mode. And one way of going about it, is to find a cause that is greater than you and apply the learnings from this life event to help others. This is often how trauma victims resume their life and find empowerment. Once they found this path the strong or matured Victim Archetype emerges.