In a world where we value control so much it is an assumed obsession, why do we find it so hard to step out of the Victim Circle and into the Freedom Circle? Shouldn’t we be desperate to grab hold of what we can control?
But to be human is to be a walking contradiction. Although we are addicted to control and seek it constantly, we are at the very same time terrified of responsibility, accountability, and consequence. The pesky side-effects of control.
I have been thinking a lot about living in this tension. Why is it that I want other people to solve my problems even as I want to control everything in my life?
Send It Away!
When trouble comes our way, we tend to want to outsource it. To send it away to be dealt with by others. Rather than pull it close and do something about it, we want to hand it to others and have them fix it for us.
So far as I can tell, this really boils down to wanting to create distance between myself and the turmoil I am facing. I quite literally want it to go away.
This, of course, doesn’t really work. I can’t just hand my turmoil to others. Not really. It is mine. I have to deal with it.
But that doesn’t stop me from trying. The motivation comes from a fear of pain. I don’t want to hurt. I don’t want to be uncomfortable. I don’t want confusion, nuance, or mystery. And anything that looks like any of this, I simply want to run away from.
Send It Back, Please…
Once I realize I cannot really send it away, I adapt. I start thinking I have just delegated it. The true heart of outsourcing. I sent my turmoil out. “They” will fix it and bring it back to me when it is redeemed, redefined, or repaired.
This new desire feeds a deeper need. The incredibly annoying reality that I can learn and grow through turmoil. That it shapes, molds, and develops my character. Great. I will just put the turmoil on layaway until all the lessons are mined from it, all the grime washed away, and then I will gladly take back whatever is left.
This, in a crude metaphor, is why the Victim Circle is such a popular choice among people so concerned with control. We still want to control it. We just want someone else to do it. Again, it is a perverse attempt at delegation – I will hold you accountable to changing something for me.
So, here is my turmoil. If you are of the opposite political party as I am, a different culture or context, another religion, or perhaps even the closest friend I can find, I will hand you my troubles so that I can be temporarily freed from them while I expect you to resolve them, take on whatever pains and punishments they manifest, and bring me back any lessons, character building, and circumstantial improvements just in time for me to take credit for my betterment.
A Better Way
Of course, the great disaster in all of this is that it does not work. We cannot outsource responsibility for our lives. We must steward what is ours to steward.
By the way, a variation of this mindset/behavior is we start to gobble up other peoples’ turmoil. We want to be their savior, their protector, their problem solver. It is the inverse of the same projection we have talked about thus far. We can play with turmoil, always able to flee from it if all hell breaks loose. We borrow others’ offenses, turmoils, and trials. Anything but face down our own.
We keep trying these escape tactics, but they never work. We keep trying to outsource, but can’t seem to manipulate and control others well enough to get whatever we imagined we would out of the arrangement.
For me, this is a daily battle. The times I do step into the Freedom Circle, I end up feeling, well…free. Not comfortable. Not exactly relaxed or at ease. But free.