Masthead Image

Exercises - Victim--(Playing the "Victim" Role)

Excerpt from April 8, 1990 Workshop*
(*Audience participation is in parentheses--notations in brackets have been added for clarification )

[We join the workshop just after a break and Dr. Bob is describing a not "I".]

We'll talk this time as to see how the not 'I" works towards you. How's that?

So, first of they will give you an emotion--they don't always talk in words; but they'll give you an emotion. One of the emotions is self-pity. Oh, pity poor me. "I've done this and I've done that and I've done everything; and nobody else has done anything for me."

A woman told me one time that the most pleasant day of her life was when she day-dreamed that she saw herself in her casket and all the family around mourning. They realized how much they missed her. I said "Well what you were doing was being dead, but being alive at the same time." That kind of upset her, so I shut up. She liked her self pity. She loved to feel sorry for herself; and so she wanted to see everybody else feeling sorry for her.

We find the not "I"s getting us angry and all these other emotions. We can observe very carefully what the not "I's" do. They want you to feel like you are a VICTIM--a victim of all these people who didn't understand you. Is that about right?

(Could be.)

Of course, you haven't felt it.

So the major thing that the not "I"s do is get you to feel like you are a victim. They do that in strange ways. Sometimes they get you angry; but you only get angry when you feel you've been a victim. Sometimes they get you frightened; and the only way you're frightened is that you're fearful of being a victim somewhere.

So if we learn to observe these not "I"s giving us this "victim feeling", and we can look at it real carefully and say, "I'm playing the victim role." That's why I'm feeling so lousy. Just "I'm playing the victim role."

A human being is a creature that's not specialized. All other creatures on earth are specialized; but the human being is not. Dogs can smell better than you can. A cat can climb a tree better than you can. You, as a human, can do a little bit of everything. We can play roles. The roles we got caught in (and didn't know we were playing) was playing the victim role. If you care to look at that; we played it considerably when we weren't feeling good. That's basically the role we're playing.

So if you can look at it and say, "I'm playing the victim role." You don't have to tell anybody. You just say it to yourself. How many times a day would you say you're playing the victim role?

(I don't know.)


(A good number.)

Which one.

(It varies from day to day.)

All right, let's say it's 15 times a day. We'll be real conservative with it. It could be as many times as it happens. Let's say you could see it. I'm playing the victim role. Did you ever play it, do you think?


Good. Usually you weren't paying attention to it. You probably played it a lot more than you thought.

So we would set out to tell ourselves--say to myself, "I'm playing the victim role." Every time we see it, we're going to say, "I'm playing the victim role." That's when you're feeling angry, self-pity and all the other emotions. It's just a way to play the victim role.

So if you said to yourself, "I'm playing the victim role," every time you saw this thing going on; I think you'd find that you basically weren't playing the victim role any more. You could see that it's not worth it. It's not worth it. So you'd see you were playing the victim role. Don't try to stop playing it. Don't do anything about it. Just simply see it. That's called "self-knowing" among other things.

I'm playing the victim role. You'll find that in about a week or ten days, I don't know; but approximately a week, you'll find you quit playing that role. That leaves you down to a natural human being. You don't have to find something to replace it--it already does.

That pretty well gets you over that particular set of situations.

Now how many ways do you think you can play that role in a week?

(I think you can see yourself a a victim of what people do and everything that happens to you like bumping an elbow, suggestion, anything. You find it moment by moment.)

That's the way the not "I"s work is keep you feeling like you are a victim. Now when you're a victim, you can't do anything about anything until whatever is making you a victim goes away. Of course, it never goes away. So if you see it different and see "I'm playing the victim role," you'll see a tremendous change in yourself in approximately a week.

The not "I"s don't like that. They scream and holler and give you all sorts of static when you first do it. They give you symptoms and all sorts of things. Just ignore them and go on. If you got a symptom, you're still playing the victim role. Say, "I'm playing the victim role" and go ahead. In approximately a week, you'll see a tremendous change in yourself. Ok?

I wouldn't quit right then, I'd keep on reporting that "I'm playing the victim role."

Now lets have some comments and questions. You didn't think you were playing the victim role, you thought this was for real.

(When you're doing this and you see the change; would you then change…..)

Oh you're not a victim anymore, you're playing the victim role.

(What about the people around you?)

You're not a victim of people now, you're just playing "the victim role."

(Will this affect the other people you're around?)

People suddenly get awful nice; you likely affected them with your [exercise]. I don't know, I think people were always nice, we just accused them by playing the victim role. At any rate, everything works pretty smooth, ok?

(They were just being themselves.)

Whatever they are doing, they didn't victimize you. They didn't even have you in mind. They were doing their thing. There's no reason to be concerned with anybody else.

(If you're in an environment and somebody is critical; you can choose to absorb the criticism or let it roll off.)

Let's just say you were playing the victim role that night, ok?

(If you absorb it?)

If you allowed it to affect you at all. Ok?

(But when you're just beginning this, you realize somebody says something and the not "I" in you is getting you hooked. You see that you're getting hooked. What kind of conversation do you have with yourself while this is going on--that you're trying to stop.)

I don't try to stop it; I just say, "I'm playing the victim role," and let it roll. So it's no use trying to stop it; you'll have an endless battle the rest of your life. So don't try to stop it. Just say, "I'm playing the victim role," and it will quit of it's own accord.

(Do you walk out of that space if you can't stand there and roll it off.)

Yeah, I get away from people who are obnoxious--it's convenient and easy. It's no use getting all agitated and trying to defend yourself against them or anything. You just say, "I'm playing the victim role." Let it roll--don't do a thing--just report what you're doing.

(Walk away?)

Yes, walk away.

(Do you report with feeling.)

Just simply see "it" as fact. Doesn't matter whether it's with feeling or not. You just say "I'm playing the victim role." However I can get it reported will work.

(I always thought we were supposed to try to get in touch with our feelings. We're probably not feeling enough as human beings; and now it sounds like your saying don't trust your feelings or don't identify with your feelings.)

Yes, I'm saying trust your feelings.

(but don't identify with those feelings?)

You know they're there and you know you're playing this role--and you plainly state it to yourself and it finally quits in a few days, ok?

(Can you describe legitimate feelings that are not destructive or negative. What would you describe in some category as a maze of feelings that would be positive and not destructive.)

Love--all those good words that fit in there.

(Anything else.)

That covers a multitude, but we could say some others like gratitude. We could say being thankful is positive. Any number of feelings are not negative.

(It's the negative emotions that we're trying to get rid of here.)

We're trying to get rid of them--not directly, but by saying that’s "What's going on." I wouldn't have feelings of being a victim unless I had negative emotions.

(I get that way. I get out in the car and everybody's in my way.)

They all got out on the road to get in your way. Let's say that "I'm playing the victim role," when you do this and see how many days you can keep on doing it.

(I hope I don't do it many more days.)

Well, just go ahead freely and see how long it takes until you see every morning you are playing the "victim role." Probably many other times a day too.

Anybody else got something to say?

(We try to stop doing something, but we're not stopping anything.)

We're recognizing them. That's what we want to do--not stop it. If you stop it with "will power", it will be back faster than you can stop it. You're stopping it by seeing what you're doing. I'm playing this role. There is a lady that says she is playing it deliberately. Most of us don't play it deliberately--we do it mechanically. She has it down to such an art that she can play it deliberately. Right hon?


Next comment.

(My victim role is being hollered at or being disapproved of.)

Ok, so you can say "I'm playing the victim role," when they do that.

(Just say it to myself and let the conversation go on?)


(I can remember as a child, my father always asking me if I had the right tool and then criticizing me. As I grew up, I was afraid to do anything because of any criticism. I always wanted some approval.)

So you can do the same thing, say, "I'm playing the victim role," to yourself. You'll see that being afraid to do all these things will disappear.

(What about expectations. If we stopped having all these expectations, that would let up on the self too. If you couldn't find the "right" tool, you could allow yourself to be wrong.)

Yep. So could you be "wrong" deliberately or freely--freely we'll say.

(Freely? I'm getting used to it.)

(What about something that has happened a long time ago. Say somebody cut off the end of your finger. You were a victim then. You're not a victim now; but you still feel like a victim.)

That's what I said. See you're playing the victim role every time you think of it. Just say it, and it will end. When you say it to your conscious awareness enough times; it says "hey, this is no joke--this is not any worthwhile thing" and quits. So don't try to quit, just say "I'm playing the victim role."

(Would it also follow that if you wanted to quit smoking, you could say "I'm playing the victim role" every time you lit up a cigarette.)

I don't know, I don't feel I'm a victim. I just smoke cigarettes because I enjoy them. I don't smoke them if I don't want to. If I go somewhere where they don't want me to, it's fine with me. I get on the airplane, I don't miss a cigarette. I have a friend who has a deep aversion to cigarettes. I take him to the airport every now and then, which is about an hour's drive. I don't smoke a cigarette on the way. As soon as I let him out, I light up. I don't feel I'm a victim, do you? I don't smoke for seven or eight hours every night. I quit until I get up.

(Anytime you do something that you say, "I don't really want to do this, but I'm doing it anyhow." That's setting yourself up as a victim.)

You can put it in that way. If you're smoking a cigarette but you don't want to, then you're the victim of a habit. So you can say, "I'm playing the victim role," every time you light a cigarette. I don't say everybody would be, but you could. Try it and see.

(If you're in this environment and everybody is playing "We are the victims," and I see that they're doing it and don't want to join in with this; what can I do about that. I can't change them.)

You have no concern to.

(I can't distract them.)

No reason to. Let them go ahead with their game.

(And just….)

Ignore it. If you don't feel you're a victim, don't go along with it, ok?

(If you have expectations for someone and they don't live up to those expectations……)

Oh, you're a victim "of the first water" then. You're responsible for the behavior of everybody in the world; and they're not doing it. You're playing the ultimate victim role then. It's kind of funny isn't it.

(I have a friend that wanted me to believe she was a victim.)

If a person has gotten themselves worked into a good "victim" point, they don't want it disturbed, honey. If in your conversation she gives up the victim role in that situation; I'll guarantee she'll have another way to express the "victim" role tomorrow.

(If we do possibly become more aware; how does this affect our relationship with people who are less aware.)

Well, we simply see that they are less aware, understand them and go on our way. We can get along with them just beautifully.

(It's that easy?)

Oh yes.

(We're self aware, hopefully; but we can see other people living in a conditioned state.)

Living in an illusion, ok? So you get along with them. We have a little principle we call agape. We see a person and we know they are doing what they feel is right, proper, or justifiable for the situation. That's what I do. I do what I feel is right, proper, or justifiable in every situation, so how could I blame anybody else for doing what I'm doing. Se we can get along with people just fine.

(You once mentioned two things to remember, what were they?)

Don't ever see anyone as a victim, and don't ever treat anybody as a victim. No matter what kind of shape a person is in, I refuse to see them as a victim. I see they got themselves in "it" or "it" just happened and let's get out.