Your heart can be absolutely shattered and in sorrow, and you can continue on, you can grow, you can learn, you can find love in life. It’s a beautiful paradox of resilience of being both broken and whole at the same time, sad and hopeful, and devastated and generous. We are astonishing in our ability as human beings to hold profound experience that are seeming opposites at the same time.Maria Sirois
This post is a selected excerpt from my interview with Maria Sirois. You can check the full interview at Dr. Maria Sirois — Overcoming Victim Mentality, Happiness in the Darkest Times, Finding Meaning in the Suffering, Lessons Learned from the Hospice Facility, and More (#129)
[Maria explaining about one of her victim experiences and how it felt to her, how she overcame it, and practical practices]
Maria: I felt powerless. I felt small. I felt like I could at any moment be tossed another terrible thing that might bring me to my knees.
Holding a victim mentality is a very disempowering feeling. And I have great compassion for those of us who, like me, are kind of wired that way.
The opposite is also beautifully true, which is that letting go of the victim mentality and really taking ownership of one’s self and one’s choices. There’s tremendous goodness that grows from that. So. I think what I most want people to know is that the victim’s stance or mindset is not fixed.
It’s not true. It’s simply one quality or one perception of experience that can be changed and can be changed at any age. I had an awakening at the age of 29 when a trusted mentor of mine had a number of conversations with me about it.
The choices I was making were to always focus on the negative, to lead from painful thoughts, to be captivated by worry, and to notice the bad in a moment or the bad in another person. And I was quite capable of noticing the good, but I tended to lead from the bad. When he reflected that back to me, I felt like I had been presented with a very painful, but clear mirror of who I was.
That was the moment I was 29 years old — I decided I didn’t want to be that woman and so I spent quite a bit of time with him and with other mentors, and a therapist, and really discussing how you change your mindset from a predominantly negative pessimistic.
[Maria explaining the meaning of suffering after the death of her brother. He was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and he only lived 10 weeks after]
Maria: One of the hidden beauties of facing death and no one —no one absolutely wants to face death, but one of the hidden beauties of facing death is that it makes crystal clear what’s important and what’s not important and what nourishes you and what does not nourish you.
What was crystal clear was the most important thing for me was to show up and give my brother as much love and as much ease and peace as possible and that became the driving force of those 10 weeks. And even the weeks after trying to do our best to care for his children and his wife and my parents.
It was also very meaningful to me to show up for my children who were young teens at the time — to demonstrate to them that your heart can be absolutely shattered and in sorrow, and you can continue on, you can grow, you can learn, you can find love in life. Again, it was very meaningful for me to really demonstrate to them this beautiful paradox of resilience of being both broken and whole at the same time, sad and hopeful, and devastated and generous. We are astonishing in our ability as human beings to hold profound experience that are seeming opposites at the same time.
[Thoughts on Accepting Paradox]
Maria: Recognizing that we can be broken and whole at the same time or sad and hopeful or hurt and generous — that we don’t have to stay stuck in one emotional state or one thought. “I am worried and I have strengths”, “I am frightened and I can reach out for help”, helps us live into this place where we can accept both realities.
“I’m sad and I deserve to be happy” — when we can hold both, when we can hold multiple realities at the same time, that is the Keystone of resilience. Because when we get to that other side of the end, there’s energy, there’s vitality. We have the capacity to make a choice. Whereas when we stay stuck on the negative side, like I don’t like myself, or I don’t think I’m doing enough or the world is not safe.
Those kinds of thoughts are so limiting and they’re draining and they tend to keep us isolated and locked into non resilient ways of being like we get defensive or we attack, or we shut ourselves down.
If you enjoyed reading this post, you’d love to listen to the full interview.
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