Changing Our Story (From Victim To Hero)

Our feelings are ours alone and it is up to us to change the narrative.

Unless someone causes us some kind of direct physical harm, most likely the way that we feel about the actions of others toward us, good or bad, is more a matter of the story we tell ourselves about who we are to them and them to us, than something real.*

That is to say, quite often, our psychological-emotional anguish over the words, attitudes, and behaviors of others is more the result of our perception, our imagination, and our experiential filters than it is the result of something tangible or even intentional.

This does not mean that our pain, insecurity, or internal turmoil are not real. They are very real to us and have very real physical, psychological, and emotional consequences. Even if it is only imagined, our hurt hurts us.

In spite of our feelings and the stories in our minds that feed into them, if we are able to step back and look at our lives and our relationships objectively for a moment, we may be able to see that, except in some rare and extreme circumstances, very few people have done or are doing anything actually harmful to us. Most of our psychological-emotional distress and discomfort is a self-made narrative we use to justify our inability to face and overcome our own insecurities.

No one is going to change our story for us. We must rewrite it on our own. This may be a long, difficult process and we may need help along the way, but, if we have the ability to recognize the difference between the story and the story teller, there is hope that we can transform from victim to hero.

*PLEASE NOTE: This is not intended to diminish or downplay the experiences of anyone who has survived or is currently living with physical and/or emotional abuse. Physical and emotional abuse are very real and very serious. They can and do have longterm, even deadly consequences, and anyone who has or is currently experiencing abuse of any kind should seek professional and/or legal help immediately.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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