Award-winning Canadian poet, Shane Koyczan’s story from being a bullied boy to becoming an Olympic poet is one that reminds us that tough situations don’t last, but tough people do.
After a childhood of being relentlessly bullied, Koyczan went on to become a spoken word poet and author. He received global recognition after he read his poem, “We Are More” at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Koyczan’s poems are stark for the realism and their subjects relating to death, illnesses and of course, bullying. The poem that brought him acclaim for its vociferous demand to stop bullying was “To this Day”. Dealing with the trauma of bullying, it is a poem that proclaims the inhumanness, the physical and psychological impact of bullying. It also throws a compassionate and sympathetic light on the innocents who suffer during and after the traumatic experience. Most of all, it is a reflection of strength and resilience to overcome an ordeal and emerge stronger and brighter. It is no wonder that Koyczan is known to have said,
“If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces”.
It was so easy for Koyczan to immerse himself in the pain of his memories and lead a life that would have been negatively affected by the painful experiences he had undergone. He overcame the trauma he had undergone for the simple reason that he chose to.
Picking up the pieces after a fall is challenging to say the least as my friend, *Elizabeth, realised when she overcame the “victim mentality” to become a victorious survivor. She had silently gone through psychological and verbal abuse for years after marriage. Through it all, she kept feeling sorry about her circumstances and kept complaining about her abuser of a husband – but not doing anything to stop the trauma she was undergoing. Meeting her one day, and knowing about her predicament, I gently conveyed that her mentality of being a victim was only getting her into greater depths of abuse. Her main issue was that she refused to believe that she could do anything about it. She sincerely considered herself as helpless to stand up to the abuse that she was experiencing. One day, during one of our chats, I asked her whether she respects herself as much as she respects others in her life. My question was met with long contemplative silence. Not surprisingly, my friend soon understood that she was providing her husband with the power to ill-treat her for the simple reason that she neither had the confidence to stand up against him nor love herself enough to prevent the abuse from continuing.
If I look at myself and look back at my teenage years when I lacked the confidence to be sure about myself and my actions, I understand why it is easy to get into the role of a “victim”. The fear of being rightfully angry or express the annoyance effectively in a situation can create an inhibition in us, and this makes an unintentional projection of the negativity onto to others we interact with. The desire to always unruffle feathers or not have had any differences with others will prompt us to deny the existence of anger in us conveniently. This withholding of anger or disagreement creates an undeniable experience of being treated poorly.
A false perceived belief that the world will always treat us with fairness is another reason for having a “victim mentality”. As we all know, we cannot assume that we shall always be treated with fairness by all we come across. It takes all kinds of people to make the planet and society that we are a part of. The more we accept this fact, the less we will be disappointed because of our undue expectations from the world and people. Unlike childhood, as we grow into adulthood, we need to realise that we have the power not to be trampled by overbearing attitude or abuse of any form. This realisation will also then give us the strength and courage along with self-love to not believe we are a victim but a survivor.
The kind of self-talk we give to ourselves also makes a significant impact on our belief of serenity and strength. The moment our mind is ridden with negative voices, we forget our true worth and start believing the reasons why we need not be considered worthy or deserving of respect as everyone else. There are two crucial ways we can instil the confidence to prevent the sentiment of victimisation from cluttering our mind reducing our resilience in facing life.
1) Importance of Positive Affirmations
2) Anger Management
Let’s start with positive affirmations and their benefits. Positive affirmations are statements that are encouraging, and we consciously repeat to overcome any inclinations to think and behave negatively. The success of regularly giving ourselves positive affirmations lies in how much we start believing them, reducing our stress level and having the uttered positive beliefs affect our life positively. As a tool for long term stress management, initiating desirable changes in life, cultivating new habits, for achieving personal and professional growth and success, affirmations can make us more equipped to face challenges and become resilient to face them.
I do not consider that the greater effectiveness of the affirmations lay in articulating them loudly; they can be silently uttered too. What matters is do we utter them and believe in them. The positive affirmations can be communicated to ourselves silently, and it all depends on what type of communication works for you since it varies from person to person. Our temperament and personality all play decisive factors in the way we may wish to engage our consciousness with positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are also seen to be influential in the case of victims of abuse. In the case of *Frieda, who lived in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety due to the vitriolic verbal abuse she suffered in her married life, affirmations helped her tremendously. It was only through her relentless conscious efforts in assuring herself that she is far more worthy than what her spouse considers her to be, she survived the years of the ordeal and carved her place in life through progress and development.
So even if there is a nagging voice of self-doubt that tries its best to take away confidence, overrule its authority with regular powerful and positive affirmations that will provide courage and hope for a better tomorrow. Resilient individuals are likely to have a powerful inner voice that encourages them to be progressive and bold about their decisions and life journey.
It is not the challenges we face that determine our success in life, but our reactions to those challenges that take us forward.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy