Don’t become a victim of yourself.
Forget about the thief waiting in the alley;
What about the thief in your mind?
Human beings are much more than they think or believe they are. Every human is an incarnated self or soul, and the essence of man is originally divine. A soul contains all imaginable potentials, and humans will be exactly what they believe they are, doing whatever they believe is possible. The self is by nature magnificent and limitless, and the universal spirit is all-powerful, so humans obviously and unquestionably possess limitless possibilities. This is visible in numerous examples of successful people, for if only one person can realize extraordinary acts, then anyone can do it if they are willing to put in adequate effort. Jesus himself told us, “Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.” According to the Bible, Jesus called himself “the son of man,” indicating that his potential was human and possessed by all people and that he was not a “sublime” or “superhuman” being. Such “superhuman” potential should be brought to the consciousness and developed because it is not exclusively reserved for a particular caste or race.
However, many people have a low opinion of themselves, believing that they are what they have been taught to believe. Very often, such beliefs are determined by our upbringing or by the area we inhabit, as they reflect the typical worldview of that area. For this reason, many of us think that we are just “small people” who “can’t do anything” and are “destined” for whatever life we have. But our beliefs also determine our achievements. If we believe we are incapable of something, then we won’t be capable of it. On the other hand, if we change our beliefs, regardless of what other people think, we can attain significant achievements. Although the world we live in is not ideal and doesn’t teach us how to creatively realize ourselves, everybody still has the chance to discover who they are, to win their place, and to live as they wish and not according to imposed norms.
If we don’t take care of ourselves, someone will come along and do it instead of us, and this someone rarely does it to our satisfaction. The world is still in the hands of greedy and manipulative people who stop at nothing to control the masses and exploit them shamelessly. They don’t need conscious and free individuals with the possibility of choice; they need robotized yes-men who will obediently work for them. People who don’t know who they are cannot create their own lives independently, so they serve the system. But no one can be pleased living like a robot and serving the inhumane system, no matter how much they convince themselves that they are. There is always some sale contract that has to be signed here, having all the well-known characteristics of the “pact with the devil.” People who sign it become split personalities where one part of them might be satisfied with their situation, but some other part usually suffers. On one hand, they might be materially provided for. Still, the true meaning of their existence – the creative self-realization – is not achieved or is postponed into an indefinite future, a next life, once, someplace, if ever.
Technically speaking, identity loss is the first consequence of a traumatic experience. This means that trauma inevitably provokes a separation of a certain quality of our true selves. From that moment on, we lose access to that quality, often thinking we never even had it. But the identity doesn’t have to be lost forever if we know how to retrieve it and if we are willing to take responsibility for the consequences of reintegration. After all, anyone who wants to develop personally and spiritually has to work on retrieving the lost aspects of their own true selves or souls. Recovering the lost identity is, therefore, one of the basic aspects of any integral therapeutic process, so avoiding it is impossible. As you have already seen, every traumatic experience and toxic bond is routinely accompanied by identity loss, for under the influence of stress, shock, or violence, people simply lose contact with their essential qualities. Some lose their integrity, and some literally lose their minds, changing their behavior and reacting neurotically, aware that they don’t have control over some of their reactions. Others even react psychotically, unaware that they don’t have control of themselves, their perception, and their behavior.
Mental wholeness is one of the key elements of the human development process, so we have to return to a state of unity with all possible aspects of our true selves; there is no way this can be avoided or neglected. For this reason, the famous psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung considered integrating all the lost parts of our soul as a basis of individuation, the term he used to describe the personal development process. That’s why the integration process makes up the basis of all the therapeutic interventions the TKP system deals with. We always perform it in a particular context, though, because it isn’t possible to do the integration directly without having dissolved the causal psycho-energy structure that constitutes the body of a problem and without having learned the lesson hidden behind it. But although necessary, all these processes only prepare the ground for the most critical aspect of the intervention, which is the recovery of the lost part and its full integration into our everyday lives.
The soul is a complex entity with various potential for manifestation, and man is the medium for such a manifestation. Psychologically speaking, our psyche is a set of different personalities or aspects of our original nature. But under certain circumstances, our psyche can fall apart and into pieces. This is precisely what happens in the moment of trauma. Many people will say that under the influence of a shock or long-lasting pressure, they fell apart, “snapped,” or “irretrievably” lost a part of themselves. Apart from traumatic experiences, identity loss may also happen if someone or something makes the giving up of an essential aspect of our personality a condition for a relationship. We then tend to renounce or betray ourselves to be accepted by our environment. Such an acceptance could sometimes be necessary or justified because it also implies biological survival. In prison, for instance, it is difficult to be what you are unless you are naturally aggressive and dangerous. Gentle people who find themselves in such extreme conditions have to renounce their softness to survive physically. The same goes for political regimes persecuting their opponents or business teams governed by some written or unwritten rule that has inevitably to be respected.
Identity loss may begin as soon as a soul enters the manifested universe and may continue throughout all the forms it takes, not only the human one. But if we narrow our exploration down to a single human incarnation, we may say that identity loss usually begins within our family from conception. If the conception was not optimal or “immaculate” (conception will be discussed at greater length in the next section of this chapter), then the conceived child relinquishes some particularly essential aspect(s) of its soul. We are discussing aspects that can give us a dose of charisma or bestow us with exceptional talent. All people have great potential; it is just that some of this potential is lost at our very conception, and it isn’t easy to recover it afterward unless we undergo some form of therapy.
Another way to recover our lost potential is through a life crisis or an extremely tough situation. If a crisis doesn’t bring out “the worst” in us, it may actually bring out “the best.” Life sometimes pushes us into initiation processes by confronting us with some powerful challenge where our problem cannot be solved by familiar means. It requires a profound inner transformation, and for this purpose, we have to discover powers previously unknown to us. These “unknown powers,” or that which is “best in us,” are usually some personality traits that we once had but have lost or forgotten over time. The story of the little lion who grows up with the sheep without knowing that he is not a sheep speaks precisely of the “awakening of the primordial nature” in extreme conditions. Namely, when wolves attack his herd, the former “harmless sheep” roars mightily and frightens the wolves away, to his amazement. The lion would never have discovered his true nature without such an extreme condition. An even more famous example is the story of the ugly duckling who, after long-lasting ridicule and rejection by the other ducks, finds out that he is a beautiful swan. But not everyone can survive such extreme conditions, and they don’t need to occur, for that matter; it is also possible to experience a transformation of this kind during a therapeutic process.
Identity loss continues during the child’s development or through the so-called “educational process.” Such a process mainly involves adapting the child’s behavior to social norms. Still, since the society we live in is, by all indicators, not healthy, this adaptation is not necessarily a healthy process, especially if it is conditioned by parental love. Suppose a child concludes that he will not be loved and accepted unless he adapts to social or family norms. In that case, he may give up those aspects of his personality that are not acceptable to his parents or society as a whole. He loses them, cuts them off, forgets about them, and creates a reality where there is no place for an authentic self. I have already pointed out that the primary human need is to be in a relationship and well-connected to close persons. Such connections can sometimes become unhealthy or “toxic” based on certain conditions, but it is better to have a relationship of any kind than no relationship at all. In toxic bonding, identity loss occurs regularly because a natural aspect of our personality cannot be expressed, as the bond’s character doesn’t allow for its manifestation. Conditioned love, in a way, “forbids” people to be what they are, that is, to express a natural and essential part of their true selves.
Since toxic bonding is not optimal, it creates frustration because the need for the lost part doesn’t disappear. In trying to compensate for our needs somehow, we create backup identities, which can never entirely fulfill us in the way some of the original aspects of our souls could. Even worse, such an identity loss often results in the addiction to some destructive source of fulfillment compensation. A person who was not allowed to express his own will as a child can sometimes become an alcoholic who behaves violently under the influence of alcohol or says his will in ways that are neither appropriate nor concern his actual needs. Identity loss always creates the need for compensation, but such compensation is often carried out negatively and ultimately doesn’t fulfill the person. This fact is very well known to any smoker, alcoholic, or drug addict; most of them would like to quit, but they simply don’t know how.
THE ORIGIN OF IDENTIFICATIONS
The ” identification ” phenomenon occurs if the identity loss is accompanied by identifying with a significant backup identity. A person gives up a substantial part of himself, but the gap that emerges in this way is filled with identification with someone else and another person’s worldview and behavior. The role model for such a backup identity is usually someone from the family, often the parents. So, the person is strongly identified with somebody else but is generally unaware of it. He thinks he feels his feelings and lives his own life, but in fact, he expresses another person’s thoughts, emotions, and behavior. A life role (identity) built in this way doesn’t entirely fulfill the identified person, but he doesn’t know any better.
Martyn Carruthers, the creator of Soulwork, suggests that identifications are a healthy reaction to unhealthy life circumstances. As children, we protected ourselves from destructive family influences, which could have seriously endangered us as long as we were emotionally and materially dependent upon our parents. We “played their game,” but since such a game was adopted very early on, usually under the age of seven, it afterward became so entwined with our character that we forgot about it and started thinking of it as something “normal,” or as a natural aspect of our personality. Although some aspects of our behavior may be completely “insane,” being under the influence of identification, we cannot recognize our actions because such models are the only things we are familiar with. As we don’t know about alternative possibilities, we accept the limitations of the existing reality as objective and our reactions to it as normal.
Identification with someone else usually brings certain benefits – often a sense of protection, guidance, and orientation. The identified person is emotionally attached to the identification itself or the role he is identified with. This role brings him at least some fulfillment, whatever it might be, and a feeling of closeness to the family member with whom he is identified. So, through his identification, this person also finds his role and place in the family, and once he gets used to it, it is unlikely that he will ever change it. But aside from the apparent benefits, identifications typically bring a series of actual losses. The identified person gives up his true self, renouncing responsibility for his life and throwing away some essential life goals. Instead of freedom, identification creates limitations based on its structure or the written and unwritten rules governing it. The essence of identification is in a sort of sale contract between two people, which may look like this: “As long as you play my game, there will be peace in the family,” or: “If you accept the imposed role, I will love you; if you don’t, I will not,” and so on.
Although identifications belong to undesirable life models, the need for identification belongs to the natural development process. As long as someone’s personality is not well-defined, such a person will be looking for role models (mentors) in other people who correspond most closely to his worldview and life concepts. Children regularly identify themselves with their parents and adolescents with famous people (actors and singers they adore and idolize). In such identification, they search for their own identity, although this identity may have nothing to do with their true self. Football fans identify with their club, patriots with their nation, and religious people with the church as a community or with church divinities. Many artists identify themselves with their role models or mentors, and spiritually oriented people often identify with their teachers or gurus. We all identify with our emotions, beliefs, or life philosophy. What is more, we often identify with the feelings of others – the whole film industry is based on the audiences’ emotional identification with the sounds and images on the screen, which are no more real than dreams. Still, we often sympathize with actors and sometimes experience their feelings intensively, almost as if they were ours.
However, all identifications have their consequences. Although we are not what we identify with, identifications are sometimes so powerful that we may waste all our energy and time justifying them. For example, “believing in something” is a very powerful identification. If our conviction turns out to be wrong, we may feel as if we have lost our footing or as if “our world were falling apart.” But nothing has fallen apart – it is just our belief that has turned out to be untrue. Because we were emotionally attached to our beliefs, disillusionment has produced a sense that we have also lost a part of ourselves. Therefore, the degree of our emotional identification determines the strength of the identification itself. It is not easy to let go of a model we have invested a lot of emotional energy in, and this is precisely the reason why identifications are so persistent.
Therefore, the famous “disillusionment process,” often experienced by truth seekers, is nothing more than a process of de-identification from an idea, a worldview, or a belief about ourselves or the world around us. This is also the reason why such a process may be painful because our mind (ego) experiences the emotional de-identification as death and produces typical reactions – denial, fear, sorrow, insecurity, resistance, or anger. Being disillusioned, a person will feel insecure for as long as he doesn’t identify with a new reality. It is best if this new reality is true, based on a connection with inner sources of fulfillment – the soul and the universal spirit.
Whilst our identity is not entirely founded upon the original self (soul), we tend to identify ourselves with external sources of fulfillment, with other people and their lifestyles. Such forms of identification are often mild, and we are usually unaware of them; they exist for as long as it takes us to become independent and ready to create our lives on our own. However, a deeper or even complete identification with another person occurs at a moment of trauma when we accept the domination of another person. Such identification emerges unconsciously and automatically so that the identified person often doesn’t even know that he is identified, although the identification is visible from his worldview and behavior.
In other words, an identified person regularly feels the presence of “someone or something within himself,” and this something or someone has a decisive influence on his inner state and behavior. He feels emotions whose origin is unknown and sometimes changes his mood for no reason. He can barely control himself and, in extreme cases, may feel “possessed” by someone or something. For the identified person, happiness and success are meaningless, and fulfillment is mainly unattainable for him. He sees the world as unjust, where “honest people” cannot realize their goals. Therefore, he avoids discipline and responsibility for his own life and continuously offers apologies and justifications for his failures, the causes of which lie “out there.”
Before moving on to their interpretation, let me give a general definition of identifications. It seems that identification is a human emotional reaction that resembles someone else’s reaction. This means that an identified person feels emotions that are not originally his and has a worldview he inherited from someone else, or he even behaves like someone else. Why? Because the primary human need is to be in a relationship, this need is stronger than the quality of the relationship. So, suppose a parent requires that a child gives up an essential part of his personality as a precondition for their relationship. In that case, this relationship will become an ideal pretext for forming certain identification. For the sake of his psycho-physical health, a child has to feel related to his parents because this connection is more critical to a child than his integrity. If parents don’t accept their child as they are and, in certain ways, impose their own models of living and behavior, the child will gladly adopt them. Since he sees his parents almost as gods and since gods cannot be wrong, the child identifies himself with the life models of his parents.
From such a definition of identification, it is evident that the identified person regularly inherits someone else’s undesirable states. In the section dedicated to the basis of human motivation, I talked about a child whose mother plays the victim role. She suppresses her anger, thinking it will somehow disappear in this way. However, that is not what happens; a child who is powerfully connected with his mother through subtle energy cords can express this anger instead of her or for her. Feeling the continuous presence of anger, the child can become aggressive, although this aggression initially didn’t have anything to do with him. It is inherited from his parent, in this case from a victim-mother. Now, you can see how parents influence their children’s worldview, behavior, and way of living. Therefore, parents must continuously and with dedication work on their mutual relationship and the relationship(s) with their child(ren). In this way, family life may become the medium of personal and spiritual development of all its members individually and the family as a whole. Harmonious families don’t fall from the sky; they are neither God-given nor happy or unhappy only by “fate.” They are created, and the knowledge of creating them exists, so it is wise to use them.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF VICTIM IDENTIFICATION
This identification represents a global psychological epidemic. All people are at least partially victim-identified because humanity still hasn’t attained such a degree of emotional maturity that would enable it to assume responsibility for its actions and stop blaming the external world for its problems. Our parents, partners, the State, the Church, global conspiracies, or God are to blame; everyone except ourselves. Complaining and regretting are constituent parts of human life, especially in Croatia, my home country, where the “naturalness” of the victim’s role in all fields of life is such that optimism, joy, or joy benevolence has become dangerous. Croatian people are literally insulted when someone is in a good mood without reason. It is desirable to complain and lament in social situations or to resign oneself to destiny because “there is no choice” and “that’s the way it is.” It is better to take no action because “it can’t be helped anyway.” And while the people are complaining, Croatia is governed by the mafia. Yes, a victim needs a tyrant to justify her role…
The reason for the existence of this model probably lies in Croatia’s history as “a small nation which has for centuries been a victim of conquerors, totalitarian regimes, wars, and poverty.” The Catholic Church has played a crucial role with its myths, which, ultimately and unfortunately, manifest as an obstruction to happiness and self-realization. The Catholic Church employs fabulous legends of the “crucified Christ,” who suffered and died to “redeem human sins,” along with the notion that all people are sinful by their very birth and “guilty until proven innocent.” In this way, guilt is systematically implanted into the believers’ subconscious and the collective unconscious of the area (state). Sinful beings have no right to happiness, and suffering is a natural thing for them. This kind of thinking inevitably attracts someone or something to be the cause of such suffering, and that cause is usually called a tyrant. A victim is dissatisfied with her identity, but since it also brings some benefits, she stays inside this model, constantly complaining but changing nothing. She would gladly get rid of her negative emotions, for it is hard not to feel angry, enraged, or resentful under the influence of tyranny. But that is all she is prepared to do. Facing the real causes of her state is not what she wants; she needs a quick fix that would give her “symptomatic relief.” Some victims would probably like to defy the tyrant but conclude that, for some reason, such confrontation is impossible. Sometimes, it is due to the conqueror’s strength, sometimes because of the too-powerful repression mechanism of a totalitarian regime, and at other times, for the sake of domestic peace.
The victim role can be manifested globally, but its sources are always local. So, everything starts within the family. If families were healthy and harmonious, there would be no need for tyranny because the tyrant has learned somewhere that tyranny is a “normal” means for achieving his goals. The tyrant also used to be a victim, and now he compensates for the former role with the complementary one. Tyranny creates a victim, but all victims will regularly become tyrants themselves if they don’t transform their identification. This means that the natural development of a victim will inevitably lead to the tyrant’s role because no victim abandons her role automatically when tyranny stops. Indeed, the victim either continues to play it in a new way and tries to find a new tyrant with all her might or becomes a tyrant herself. The third possibility is that a victim who is aware of both options assumes the role of a “savior.” However, in this way, she still remains within this model, sacrificing her own happiness and personal realization.
Even if they are not tyrannized themselves, victim-identified people usually adopt their identification by watching the relationship between their parents. If our parents are emotionally not on an equal footing and their relationship is not primarily a partnership, then one of the parents dominates over the other. The dominant person is usually more active because they determine the rules and demands their observance. In contrast, the subordinated person passively accepts and fulfills the other’s demands, whether they like them or not. In other words, an unequal partnership is governed by conditional love instead of unconditional love because it is based on a sort of sale contract. Unconditional love, I repeat (and will keep on repeating for the time being), is distinguished by the unconditional acceptance of another person, such as they are, as well as by enthusiastic support of their endeavors, provided that such efforts are ethical and are not violating anyone’s integrity. On the other hand, conditional love poses requirements and rules, so a person is accepted, loved, and supported by the other only if she fulfills these rules and requirements. If she doesn’t accept the conditions or tries to rise in revolt, the tyrant will try to compel her to observe them. If the tyrant succeeds, the victim must swallow her pride, renounce her integrity, and suppress the anger she inevitably feels. The victim is not allowed to express her anger openly; she wouldn’t be a victim if she expressed it.
However, the rules say it is impossible to suppress emotions; they always find their outlet. As all family members are interconnected and constitute a psycho-energetic whole, a parent-victim’s suppressed anger and frustration will be felt and expressed by someone else in the family, mainly by a child. The nature of emotions that their suppression causes the effect of a waterbed – when we press it at one point, the bed rises at another, the one which at the given moment offers the least resistance. Even people who know that suppressing is not optimal think that a pushed-down emotion will harm only them, saying, “Never mind, I’m suppressing it, and I take responsibility for the suppression, as I’m the one who’s going to bear the consequences anyway.” However, it is not so. A family is a system, and every system element is related to all the other elements. All family members are mutually linked by subtle psycho-energetic connections, which behave as telecommunication devices, spontaneously and automatically conveying information from one person to another. This means that all family members feel suppressed emotions, at least subconsciously. The most sensitive person will not endure the pressure and will have an irresistible need to express those emotions.
Whereas other family members may use various means for suppressing unpleasant information/emotions and, therefore, consume nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, tranquilizers, or drugs, the sensitive person becomes occupied with a new aspect of her personality – destructive impulses. She gradually becomes aggressive and watches the world through dark eyeglasses, seeing injustice everywhere. At least she is expressing that which the others suppress. Still, instead of disciplining herself and taking responsibility for her own life, she tends to blame external circumstances for her failures. She constantly senses smoldering anger; if any opportunity arises, she will gladly express it. At the same time, if someone points out to her the identification, she will most likely deny it because every identification brings certain benefits to a person, and the victim is usually the most powerful person in the family. What is more, she is often the one who controls the whole family. This is the actual reason why victims deny their role – their manipulation would have to end then, as they would inevitably have to take responsibility for their own lives.
That’s why no victim is totally innocent. Good examples of this are people suffering from some illness. In other words, even the sick or the “poor victims of a horrible illness” achieve some goal with their problem. Maybe they just get attention or are punishing themselves for some of their actions, but they often keep some toxic relationships alive through their illness. Unless caused by external influence (an injury, unhealthy food, harmful radiation, etc.), all diseases are reflections of negative identities and beliefs, charged with emotions and pushed deep down into the subconscious. Just as the subconscious mind is manifested directly through physical states and body language, so is our body a reflection of our worldview. Our posture, body language, and health reflect our subconscious programs. The natural state of the human body is healthy, not sick. Therefore, an illness is a reflection of unnatural subconscious programs. And since such programs are adopted through interpersonal relationships, in the end, we might say that an illness is nothing other than a mirror of our relationships. For this reason, the victim of an illness is not really a victim; she has directly contributed to such a condition. The logic here is clear, so there is no excuse for turning attention away from ourselves. We create our own diseases with a specific aim.
An identification often underlies an illness. Some kinds of diseases almost always follow identifications since keeping the immune system strong is complicated when a large part of our soul is missing. To have a healthy immune system, we must be whole, so identified persons usually have chronic health problems. That’s why it is necessary to check for identifications, especially this one if someone has a severe health problem. Although usually created with positive intentions, identifications may have serious consequences. A victim-identified person simply wanted to be connected with a parent who also plays this role. To remain connected, accepted, and loved by that parent, the child herself accepts such an identity. She doesn’t want to become sick; she just needs love. But being loved by a victim may cost the child her health and personal realization.
Besides having personal problems, victim-identified people often fight against social injustice. They join Greenpeace or some other similar organization but are easily manipulated because they themselves are not free of their own identification. It is impossible to free others and not to be free yourself. In this way, they only find occasional outlets in revolting against some external “injustice,” but that doesn’t move them away from their identification at all, no matter how profound and noble their intention is. No external injustice is the original cause of our personal problems; the cause is in our karma, here manifested as subconscious family dynamics. Of course, numerous problems do belong to the sphere of social injustice and have a limiting influence on us. However, although today’s world is everything but normal, a victim has to find a way to put her house in order first. Fighting against global injustices while being in the victim role throws serious doubts on the motives of such a person. Only intimate personal realization and inner wholeness can be legitimate motives for global action.
As I have already mentioned, all identifications are easily diagnosed through goalwork. When stepping forward toward her goal, a person may report that a huge quality is missing, so she can’t realize her goal. The other most common indicator is a block covering more than two chakras and extending throughout a larger body part. In addition to the symptoms which are valid for all identifications, here are the most typical indicators or aspects of victim identification:
– The key emotion is anger; a person feels angry in many situations but usually expresses it where it is least needed and doesn’t express it where she should.
– The victim is not allowed to express her anger in a relationship with a tyrant; she suppresses anger and such suppression results in certain consequences.
– The victim-identified people have a lot of energy and can define their goals, but during goalwork, they lose their motivation and invent various justifications for giving up.
– They create models of behavior of the “Victim – Tyrant – Savior” type.
– They become followers of spiritual teachings that believe in a “savior” or “salvation” and thereby give up responsibility for their development.
– If they dedicate themselves to spiritual development, victim-identified people can embody the savior role; instead of “saving themselves” or realizing a happy and fulfilled life, they help others and try to “save the world.”
– They create an image of a “good,” “honest,” “decent,” and “helpful” person; they side with the weak and are often typical losers.
– They commit occasional excesses and cannot maintain their own image and control their behavior completely.
– They play the victim role in the early part of their life, but they often turn into a tyrant later.
– Their body posture reveals readiness to fight; they tighten their jaws and sometimes grind their teeth; they often clench their fists, and their muscles are highly contracted and sometimes heavily built up.
– They are critical towards the external world; nothing is good enough for them; nothing is perfect or correct; they see an attacker or tyrant in everyone, dishonesty, and insincerity everywhere; they always feel threatened.
– Although they are constantly complaining, like all identified people, they don’t really want to change; if they look for professional help, they want someone else to take over the responsibility for their lives and solve their problems.
– Although it doesn’t usually look like it, the victim is often the most powerful person in the family.
– During goalwork, they swerve (to the left or right), rambling and changing their aims, setting a new goal or a new version of the former goal at every step.
© Tomislav Budak. 2004.
 “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created”– Albert Einstein.