Beyond Victimhood

Written by Giridhari das - 6.9 2017

Understand that you’re in control and that feeling like a victim will disempower you. Your entire well-being rests exclusively on you. It’s all in your hands. We have to go beyond victimhood and take control of our life situation to achieve well-being. Going beyond victimhood is one of the key concepts of spiritual life.

You have the power to be happy or to be miserable. You depend on no one else and nothing else. When you become more advanced, you will appreciate how God is always helping you and that everything and everyone ultimately depends on Him. But aside from this mystical and sweet fact of life, it’s crucial to understand and to live by the concept that you’re in power.

On a practical level, sure, use the word victim. If somebody mugs you and you go to the police, they will identify you as the victim of the crime. If a hurricane destroys your house, you call your insurance company and identify yourself as a victim of a natural disaster. We have to take practical measures. That’s part of our dharma.

But that’s as far as it goes. You have to go beyond victimhood. A victim is powerless. The term victimhood is used to describe a person who absorbs this feeling of being a victim, and thus declares themself powerless and helpless. Victims feel depressed and sad. Some take the feeling so deeply that they lose the will to live. Feeling like a victim will never help you. It’s just a path to inaction and unhappiness. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, “A yogi never laments.”

Instead, you should understand that whatever has happened to you is life. It’s reality calling. Just deal with it as the new flux life is bringing you. See it all as part of your experience in growth and strength. Perhaps it brings a new set of challenges, new shifts in your dharma. But the focus is exactly the same: you being here and now, focused on your dharma, recognizing your emotions and letting them go. No matter what has happened to you, the joys of life are still all around you. Life is still a miracle, and your experience of it can still be divine.

Focus on what you’re doing. That’s what you have control over. It’s what is really important, what will determine if you’re happy or not. It’s never about what happens to you; it’s about how you respond to it, how you deal with it. Bring the attention to yourself, for it is only yourself that you have power to control, only yourself that you have to improve.

If you accept that everything that happens to you is 100 percent your responsibility, then you have 100 percent power to change how it affects you. And the inverse is also true. If you feel you have no responsibility, then you have no power. Be a yogi or be a victim—that’s your choice.

Of course, we should feel sympathy—or even better, empathy—with those who suffer tragedy. Feel their pain and see how you can help. That’s part of the universal dharma. But for yourself, you must not lament. You should give time for your wounds to heal, recognize whatever loss you experienced, respect that...and then let it go and move on.

If you feel your mind dragging you toward the past in lamentation, feeling sorry for yourself for something that’s happened, stop and bring it back to the here and now. Breathe deep, focus your mind on a sensation you’re experiencing now or on doing your dharma. Absorb yourself again in life, in reality, in what is happening right now, and experience the joy and divine beauty of it.

Check out more of Giridhari's videos at his website HERE!

Giridhari das (Gustavo Dauster) is the leader of our flagship Krishna West project in Brazil. While holding various leadership positions in ISKCON, including Director of BBT Brazil and President of the ISKCON Brazil National Council, he has published three books on Krishna bhakti and yoga philosophy. In 1998, he built and established Pandavas Paradise, a yoga retreat center and eco-lodge located on a one thousand-acre ecological paradise in the heart of Brazil, where he lives with his wife and two sons.