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  • Writer's pictureMC Mendez

The “virtuous” untouchables

Following my article about the “Dramatic Triangle”, staring the persecutor, the victim and the saviour, I wanted to focus on these last two profiles, and see how if they are integrated as a way of life, and even though they seem to be sacrosanct and virtuous, they can in the end be highly limiting.

Personally, I was educated with the idea that a person who works tirelessly, who puts herself at the service of others, who endures, and who suffers is deserving. That she is not responsible for her misfortune and that her value lies in that very suffering. And therefore that a person who has it too easy is undeserving and borderline dishonest! So I developed an aptitude as a saviour and in difficult situations, I have favoured the role of victim and didn't always take responsibility for what was happening to me. So I unwittingly encouraged the behaviours of persecutor and saviour around me. And I found myself stuck for a long time in this sometimes comfortable and sometimes excruciatingly painful spiral. However, I realized later on how these two roles would eventually show their limitations.

When I was little, around 8 years old, I won an all class, all ages’ school sports competition. We had passed trials in different disciplines such as running, ball-throwing, high jump, long jump etc ...

On the day of the results, we were all gathered in the courtyard. They had even organised a typical three-level podium. The principal called out the name of the student who had won 3rd place first. Very proud he came to take position on the podium displaying his widest smile. Then the second winner was called to join him, which he did eagerly.

Then came the name of the winner. I admit that at that time I was often in my bubble, the air was hot that day, the weather was fine and I was watching the moving shadows of the branches and leaves of the only tree standing in the courtyard, when a student sitting next to me nudged me and said: “Well, it's you, isn’t it? "

I stood up like a robot, confused and semi-aware of what was going on. Everyone was applauding around me, a muffled sound, which soon got mixed with my breathing, which in turn was getting louder and louder. All I wanted to do in that moment was to run and take refuge as far away as possible, somewhere I could never be found. Surely there was a mistake. How could I have found myself in this "awkward" winning position, which surely could not be mine!

Even at the top of the podium, I was shorter than my two acolytes who now greeted the crowd of students like Roman warriors who had returned triumphant from a great battle! I, on the other hand, was waiting for the deceit to be unveiled. If someone had said "Ah sorry, no, we were wrong, Marie-Caroline please step off the podium, it’s thingamajig that has won", I think I would have been unconsciously disappointed, but consciously I would have been very relieved, because a victim cannot win! She loses all her value, all her power, all her merit. "Winners are not worthy of care!"

And therein lies the whole trap of succumbing to this role of victim because it keeps us small (unless we become martyrs, but then the price to pay is pretty high!) And saviours are our greatest allies in this process, they give us importance and attention as long as we suffer and remain dependent on them. In the end, they help us remain victims!

Other events like that occurred in my life. Since I was also educated to do my best whatever I did, I achieved things but I often had an unpleasant and guilty feeling in these situations, until I dared to remember that as a child I loved winning and I was pretty good at it, as I was often reminded and reprimanded for! I say, “Dared to remember” because from there to giving myself the permission to revert to being a full-blown winner was quite scary prospect! ☺

And the way I have found to reconnect with my right to be successful (which in my case translates to being humbly proud of my accomplishments) is by stepping away from the role of saviour and victim. To no longer be dependent on my saviours and to no longer make “my victims” depend on my support and help. These notions are also essential for a coach since the aim is to help others gain or develop their autonomy. I wasn't a coach yet, but it was high time for me to take responsibility for myself, my actions and whether they resulted in "failures"or "successes".

In order to do that, I needed one last ingredient, that took me a long time to develop but that is essential to such a transformation: Healthy pride and self-recognition. Fortunately it can be learned. Like any new behaviour it is uncomfortable and awkward at first but over time it takes its place and becomes second nature.

Today, I’ve even come to admire people who succeed easily! Those people who do things for fun, who are healthily proud of themselves and who respectfully go for what they want. I even draw inspiration from them! I now find them fascinating. I draw no judgement on them anymore, because I have allowed myself to join the club. And Life is pretty good in the humble zone of self-pride and accomplishment!

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