I drove to Detroit yesterday to meet with some customers, and while on I94 East, I ran into a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. Teeth clenched… Grrrrr. Cue the inner dialogue:
What’s going on up there?
Where are all these people going in their cars? It’s the middle of the day and not rush hour.
I gave myself plenty of time, but there’s so much traffic I’m going to be late for my appointment.
I instantly stepped into the victim role… why is this happening TO ME? I could have taken responsibility for being on-time, but I was playing the victim. I could have left earlier, I could have checked traffic on my app before leaving, I could have called my customer and changed our meeting time. But it’s so much easier to be a victim. Victimhood means being at the effect of outside circumstances and refusing to take any responsibility for what is happening.
Then I found myself transitioning into villain mode … If these people would simply get out of my way, then I could get to where I need to go. CURSE ALL YOU PEOPLE!!!! Villainizing others is very well worn and seductive. It feels like everyone is doing this to ME. Everyone is making MY life difficult. But the truth is that that I am contributing to this traffic jam as much as anyone else. Some driving behind me is probably cursing me out at this very moment. But it’s so much easier to blame everyone else because my needs are the most important, right?
Even a simple thing like traffic is an opportunity to reflect on the role I play in the world and how I can relate to what is going on around me. I can relate to traffic from a place of closed mindedness, defensiveness, and a need to be right OR I can approach it from openness, curious, and a willingness to learn.
That’s why I’m willing to ask myself powerful questions:
How else do I play the victim or the villain in other areas in my life?
How can I step into a place of responsibility and avoid the seductive villain and victim roles that seem so familiar?
How is all of this happening FOR me so I can evolve as a person on the planet?
Pausing for a moment, taking a breath, and asking these questions is how I slow down and consider, and it feels like a great place to start.