Victim or Volunteer?

avatarI can still hear my Mum saying to me, “If Martin told you to jump off a cliff, would you?” It was usually Martin, or Kevin, or sometimes my sister Pam.

Anyway, although I kind of understood what she meant I didn’t really grasp the thought behind the question. When you’re a child, you spend most of your time doing as you’re told. Mum says this, Dad says that, teacher (who knows everything) says do something else.

So, for a child, doing what someone bigger and stronger tells you to do is almost automatic – even if it’s really stupid.

There comes a time, though, when you realise that it’s not a question of who tells you to do something – ie, a responsible adult or a stupid or malicious child – but whether anyone should be controlling your actions other than you.

Doing as you’re told, or following the herd, should become less automatic as you mature into a conscious adult. For a big percentage of the population, though, doing as they’re told is still automatic. Too many people go through life in a semi-conscious state, doing what they’ve been conditioned to do, what their employer or family says they should do or what all their friends or fellow believers are doing.

But probably the worst way to surrender control of your own life is when you volunteer to become a victim, by willingly entering into an addictive and harmful relationship – with drugs, alcohol, tobacco, abusive people or destructive, controlling sects and religions.

There are lay experts and gurus who are just as damaging and addictive.

Few addictions (using the term loosely) are healthy and essential. Breathing is one, food and water are others. Moderate exercise is always good for you, as are moderate eating and drinking.

Most addictions, though, are best seen as a willing surrender of control – over your mind, your body, your time or all three. That means you have a choice, and making a choice is easy, once you realise you can.

That doesn’t mean changing your behaviour will be easy, but the first step is recognising that the choice is yours to make.

Next time you feel like a victim, ask yourself if you didn’t actually volunteer.

Looking at it that way might help you to un-volunteer a little quicker. And resolve to not volunteer to be a victim in future.