How you became a victim
Most of us avoid using the word victim to refer to ourselves
Nevertheless, we often are. Listen to whether any of the following expressions fit you:
"My company doesn't pay me what I am worth."
"My children don't consider all the things I do for them."
"My parents are still trying to tell me how to run my life."
"My partner is always acting selfishly."
"My friend has no sensitivity to how their behavior affects me."
"The customer unfairly blamed me for their upset about our service."
"The boss was curt with me when I tried to ask him a question."
"So many people in this country are trying to destroy our freedoms."
"How can others be so unreasonable!"
"I feel so bad that I don't want to let my alcoholic brother live with me." (your Oneself is the victim of your Others)
"I've always felt that I'm not good enough."
"So many things are waiting for me to do." (Now-Next victimhood)
"My friend betrayed my trust."
"It's sad that people have become so self-centered."
You get the drift.
Inherent in the Old Ethics are many double standards. If you put my needs above yours, then how can I put your needs above mine? If you expect me to sacrifice for you, then you're the bad guy. One of us has to end up being selfish (the bad guy) by letting the other guy sacrifice.
Sometimes people try, either implicitly or explicitly to justify sacrifice as if it were a trade. "I sacrificed for you; now you should sacrifice for me." This scenarios often plays out in the relationship between parents and children when parents "sacrifice so much for their kids" and then the kids, especially when the parents get older, are expected to sacrifice for their parents.
Special note: A parent who does not love the privilege and joy of raising their children independent of whether or not their children give anything back in the future, is cultivating a toxic relationship based upon the idea that sacrifice is good or necessary. A toxic environment is created when the parent is tolerating the process of raising the child and/or is trying to prove they're a good parent. The same is also true when a children have not created Oneself-Others Integrity in their relationship with their parents and are either tolerating taking care of their parents or feeling guilty for what they're not doing.
If you care about others, how could you want them to sacrifice for you? Or, if they care about you, how could they want you to sacrifice for them?
You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.
If I'm always sacrificing my Now for my Next, then how can I ever satisfy Next's goal that one day Now can be really happy. Also, even if Now would get his or her due in the future, Now is still tolerating and sacrificing now, since it's not Now's job to care about the future. That's what Next is supposed to be doing.
If you're sacrificing what Next wants so that your Now can indulge, then you're a bad guy and you will feel guilty.
You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.
Why and when did you decide to leave Eden?
You probably don't remember. It was in the first few years of your life. Or the big decision might have been delayed just a few more years.
Something happened. For most, it would have been with one or both of your parents. But it could have been with others or even a group of others. Whatever happened, it was painful. Frightening. Something that you didn't want to happen again.
Assuming the incident was with your parents, maybe they hit you. Maybe they just got loud with you. Maybe you felt abandoned or left alone. Maybe they were just overwhelmed with their life and you took it to mean something about you.
How are you going to view this incident?
How are you going to try to ensure that it doesn't happen again?
Three possible ways would be available to you to frame this painful incident.
"Life is messy. Sometimes painful or frightening things can happen. My parents probably didn't know anything better to do. They are doing their best and so am I."
"My parents are the bad guys. They should know better. They should change."
"Somehow I must have done something wrong. Something must be wrong with me. If only I can fix it, then I'll be okay and things will be happy like they were before."
Which one of these three ways is that young you mostly likely to decide?
The first assessment
The first assessment would be the most accurate one. However, that assessment leaves you with a sense of powerlessness and even hopelessness that anything can be done. And you desperately want a sense of power to deal with this painful and frightening experience and make sure it doesn't happen again.
The third assessment
The third assessment, although it points the finger of blame inward, will provide you with the most hope that something can be done. The assessments, "I'm not good enough" or "I'm not lovable," or "I'm not smart enough," or "I should always improve myself" provide you with the hope that somehow you can be good enough or lovable enough or smart enough or improved enough.
The second assessment
And, if we don't latch onto the second assessment, "There's something wrong with them," right away (and a good reason not to is it's pretty scary if the bad guys are so big and powerful in your life), we'll end up with this conclusion as we get older. This is because it's an easy corollary to the belief that blaming works since you're now deeply ingrained with the fundamental habit of blaming yourself. It can also feel better to blame others rather than yourself. You have learned to live inside the HOGAB with an indistinguishable sense of guilt that colors your entire day-by-day existence.
Although some of us are more self-blamers and others lean more toward blaming others, the two go hand-in-hand. You cannot have one without the other.
Inside the HOGAB, only HOGAB sanctioned "solutions" are permitted
Even psychologists, limited to the options inside the HOGAB, in trying to alleviate their client's guilt, whether related to their childhood or even to something like being raped, focus the client on re-directing the blame outward toward their caretakers or the rapist, rather than toward themselves. Yes, that is probably an improvement. But that "improvement" comes at the cost of reinforcing the overall toxicity of living inside the HOGAB and not providing true and complete relief. As Byron Katie says, "Forgiveness is realizing that what you thought happened, didn't."
You had it. I had it. We all had it...when we were young children. Happiness. Joy. Adventure. Play. Curiosity. Love of life. An awesome sense of our future. Yes, sometimes we felt pain. We felt fear. We felt angry. We expressed it and it was gone in a few minutes and we were back to Eden. We knew no evil. There was no good or bad. There was no right or wrong. There was no resistance to what is.
"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.” as Federico Fellini said.
It's time to return
And then you made that fateful decision, an understandable choice given your limited perspective at that time. Now it's time to reconsider that choice. You can leave the HOGAB. You entered it step by step. You can leave it step by step.