How to Rise from Victimhood to Liberated Heart.

Date: June 4, 2015

posted by Marijana Cabrita / Comments: No Comments / Tags: , , , , ,


Maya Angelou’s writing and wisdom has definitely moved me and inspired me over the course of the last few years. So much so that I thought that reflecting on a famous quote of hers was a great way to start this post.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This quote is cycled throughout Facebook every so often and yet every single time that I come across it, I shudder at the thought of how people will use it as permission to victimize themselves. I feel called to unpack it for you today to contextualize the message that Maya may have intended to make and that I’d like you to consider from a psychological and spiritual point of view.

You see I have a tendency of pulling things apart, looking at things and people in their individual parts and then putting them together into the system that they are a part of. This is all thanks to my graduate education in marriage and family therapy where systems theory was the foundation for everything I was to learn about relationships.

Learning that relationships are a system of a whole allowed me to see that we all play a part of our relationship function and dysfunction. This skill along with my affinity for existential psychology and Buddhism as well as my own personal experiences of healing has allowed me to see human psychology and spirituality holistically.

So here it goes. People may actually forget what you said. People may actually even forget what you did. People may never forget “how you made them feel”.

However, my re-framing of this last line would be: people may remember a painful memory you were a part of (because why should we generalize all people as being at fault for how we feel {apart from abusers} and, people heal).

If you are really struggling to let go of hurt or anger and regularly take the stance of a victim in your relationships this is where I encourage you to ask yourself 3 questions:

1. Was it their intention to make me feel a certain way? If it was intentional, instead of blaming them you can find a way to heal and find growth from the experience (I’ll go more into depth on this one later).

2) If it wasn’t intentional, can I find compassion for their behaviour? Can I understand that their behaviour was more about their own ‘stuff’ that is being projected onto me?

3) Whether intentional or not, can I take control back of my emotional life and empower myself to seek alignment with how I really want to feel.

It is important for us to take responsibility for our emotions in our relationships no matter how triggered we are by someone’s behaviour so that we no longer live in victimhood, self-defeating thoughts and beliefs. So that we can connect to people from a place of self-worth and in the present moment.

I’m not suggesting that you avoid feeling down. Opening yourself up to the loss you are experiencing is like befriending your inner child.

Here in lies the lesson we must learn:

We all will walk a path in which we are faced with challenges that give us an opportunity to expand. I believe these challenges serve to open our hearts and love more deeply and consciously.

People heal. There is a saying in the psychology field that “the body keeps score” (influenced by the book written by renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk). In other words, research shows that the body holds emotional disturbance at the cellular level.

As a therapist that helps people heal from trauma and various emotional disturbances, healing emotional wounds is possible through many mind/body-centred therapies. I for instance, use EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) as a part of my approach, which has astonishing results compared to mainstream talk therapy.

Healing from relational wounds inevitably involves letting go of what once was. True letting go necessitates a letting go of the negative or painful emotional gravity of a relationship, whether you continue having contact or not.

For some, this emotional gravity may be associated with unhealed trauma, which continues to interfere or interrupt present relationships. For many, it is a regular re-triggering of old wounds that keep showing up in your relationships, bringing you back to old feelings from previous relationships or your family of origin.

It involves a letting go of the expectations for the other to be different then who they are and to stop blaming them for your unhappiness. To fully accept them as they are and as you are. To take ownership of your state of mind and heart. To take ownership of how you feel.

This sort of letting go forces you to face all the grief throughout your life that you’ve held on to and haven’t healed. This is where therapy, or a spiritual mentor can help. It can also be an opportunity for you to work through these feelings with the people you care about.

This sort of letting go forces you to honour your pain with self compassion, which creates spaciousness/new awareness/ freedom from the past/stepping into the now.

From here you can be in the drivers seat of your life and your emotions, living in the present and cleared of past grievances you can then ask yourself, how do I want to feel? Here, now? How do I want to feel in my body? How do I want to feel in this relationship? Etcetera.

So, here we are, full circle. Rather then taking Maya’s lovely and brilliant quote as a reason to victimize yourself it is so important that we become aware when we engage in this process of victimhood and living in the past and how we hold and store emotional wounds so that we can let go of the past and live fully in the present.

I know from her writing and interviews that Maya actively fought for women’s empowerment, wrote endlessly in her prose on the power of love and spoke fearlessly on the necessity of fierce boundaries. And so, with that in mind, remember that even though she empathizes with the human struggle to forgive and heal, she walked the path of an open hearted liberated woman.

Maya Angelou passed away 1 year + 1 week ago today at the age of 86. I so thank you Maya for being such a force of love and inspiration.

Open your heart and liberate yourself from the pain you are holding onto. Maya believes in you. I believe in you.



~ Marijana Cabrita is a psychotherapist, mentor, workshop facilitator and lover of this sacred life. Marijana’s passion is in bridging the science of psychology with the power of spirituality. She is committed to helping women awaken to their true sacred essence and embody love.

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