Everyone has a sales pitch. They may not think so, but the truth is we are always attempting to sell how we want to be accepted by whomever our audience happens to be at the time; and the theme or vibe we put into our song and dance is determined by the perceived importance of those we meet and what we think we can gain from their alliance. This means that we too are going to be entertained by the same routine from the other side. It may not come out as obvious in some, that’s for sure, but a calling card is always presented. It can be in the way we move, the clothing we wear, the timber of our voice, eye contact, or even the way we smell. The biggest one is, of course, what we say. In the end we are looking to trigger certain Pavlovian responses in others that will determine how we want an interaction to take place.
The most seductive calling cards are, in my opinion, based on the (mostly subconscious) search for reinforcement of being victimized. What I mean is that many look to find support for continuing a life of pain and self-abuse. If you’re thinking this doesn’t make any sense, I don’t blame you, it didn’t to me either. Their card says, in a nutshell, “Here’s why my life sucks.” All too often when a traumatic event happens, we look to alleviate our intensely negative emotions in the fastest way possible. “Nope, can’t handle this; not right now!” This relates to both the memory (mental) and the physical repercussions (if they exist). Nine times out of ten, this pans out to an inferior or mindless knee jerk reaction – the quickest coping mechanism that pops into our minds rather than a knowledgeable reaction rooted in awareness. Always resorting to this habitual escapism can mean any hope of true recovery is going to vanish. A fast diversion may cause the illusion of elimination, but the problem with this tactic is it doesn’t last. The negative emotions inevitably come roaring quickly back into our conscious minds, and the escapist cycle must be duplicated if feelings of apathy and oblivion are to be maintained. Pushing these negative emotions back into our subconscious minds, out-of-the-way, and falling off the emotional scale into the numbness is where we find our escape. The catch is every time a “cheap” cycle is repeated, its effectiveness diminishes slightly until nothing but the habit exists without any of the reward. It can become a deep hole from which few find a way out. The memory of false bliss lingers long after the effectiveness of temporary solutions have stopped functioning, which is why so many keep chasing it; they think there’s a way to repeat the original formula and catch that initial sensation of relief. Ultimately, you begin to realize that numbness no longer feels like relief.
I know people who complain about abusive relationships they were in thirty-plus years ago. This is a choice the victim perpetuates, the question is, why? I myself have a history of seeing my own blood at the hands of those who were supposed to show me compassion and Love. Some would let this be their calling card, and for me it was… for years… BECAUSE it was also a wonderful excuse for self-abuse; one I was naïvely unaware of. When I handed this definition – this label – of who I was to acquaintances and strangers, I got back exactly what I wanted: justification for keeping myself in this loop. No wonder so many turn to drugs and alcohol. I get it, I really do. Letting go of the initial reason for pain (which usually manifests in the form of forgiveness) EQUALS letting go of the habits and reactions attached to it. For a long time, this wasn’t an option, and it nearly destroyed me. Issues that are strictly physical are similar to those that induce or include mental anguish, but in my opinion are not nearly as common. I could be wrong here, of course.
I witness so many “calling cards”: some are sincere, some comical, some necessary, and some revolting. The “Alpha male” card always makes me vomit (and laugh) a little. “How can I impress you while beating you at something right off the bat?” Yuck. The “Righteous belief system” one is fairly common, and frankly it’s usually designed to start an argument. But sometimes it’s nothing more than a search for common ground, and that’s kind of nice. There are obviously a plethora of examples. Mine (I hope…) goes a little like this, “Smile, shake hands, introduce myself, and ask how I can be of service?” It basically says nothing more than “How may I serve you?” Yes, as time goes on in any relationship my library of continued and amended introductions takes many paths, but I do my best to consciously make them optimistic and, above all, kind.
Kindness seems to be the rarest card of all. People think it’s the weakest one in the deck when in reality it carries the most strength and power. It does not, however, wield strength and power for the individual who offers it, but strength and power to the environment surrounding them. Look at someone like Mother Teresa or Gandhi, their goals, their focus centered on helping others rather than themselves. In the end, the energy came back and elevated them without any egotistical agenda whatsoever. Humility is so rare.
So, what is your calling card? It might surprise you. It might nauseate you. It might piss you off. In any case, it’s now going to be hard to pass off without recognizing it, and THAT is the power to change it.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood
I agree that everyone has a calling card! Our “ego,” our “persona,” our “performance self” that we put on for the world. So much of our personalities themselves are fake – merely productions we extend to the world – superficial manipulations to gauge place, status, meaning, belonging, connection… and obviously, the deeper we move down that scale, the less able our ego (alone) is to facilitate.
The victim card is a very, very appealing card to us. Why? Because the victim card establishes an environment free of accountability and a justification to be the taker. “Oh I didn’t have anything to do with this. It was completely out of my control. Now, take pity on the underdog and rescue me.” Who wouldn’t enjoy the belief that they’ve done nothing “wrong” and deserve the things they want handed to them? We all do this, because this is “easy.” This is “pain free.” But like you pointed out in your blog, this is also unsustainable and very unfulfilling in the long-term!
Another use of the victim card is a false sense of connection. What people need most, their most basic need, is connection. We are a social species. We are a highly complex, interconnected species. It is engrained into our very DNA that the more separate you become from the group, the more likely you will die. Die. Being that we’re also hardwired for self-preservation, this isolation stuff is a no-go.
But what makes us connected? Or at minimum, what makes us FEEL connected? For me, I feel the most connected when I feel that my authentic self is seen, heard, and understood. We’ve heard the phrase, “misery loves company,” and that’s true. People need their pain validated. They need others to see it, feel it, understand it, GET it. If we’re using this as a definition of connection, then it plays a dual role in the topic of your blog:
1. People use the victim calling card as a way to manipulate a sense of [albeit, illusory] connection.
2. People who use the victim calling card are disconnected from themselves.
We’re both familiar with the law of attraction – like attracts like… as within, so without, “misery loves company”, etc. If there is a fundamental disconnect within yourself, you will fail to find an authentic connection outside of yourself (at least regarding the area of focus). By convincing yourself that you are ONLY the victim, you are creating a disconnection between the aspects of yourself that are also perpetrator (and they BOTH exist). You are not being authentic, not even with yourself. You are not seeing, hearing, or understanding complete parts of yourself. If you ignore that an entire part of yourself even exists, how can you include that as part of your calling card to the external world? You can’t. You won’t. So those whom you meet are only ever meeting portions of you, and not the portions that are the real you. They’re meeting the manufactured you, your mask. And by virtue of connecting with only the illusion of you, you will never feel truly connected to them or they to you.
What does this mean? Well, quiet obviously, it means your search for connection will just have to continue. And continue. And continue ad nauseum. Until you finally reconcile points #1 & #2 above. Until then, the victim card will remain your calling card.
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I think the real trap is when one constantly presents a false persona they’ll end up inevitably convincing themselves to align with what they “want” others to believe. The circle of justification becomes complete and such negative lifestyles such as blame, doubt, shame, and all kinds of self-destructive behaviors like drug use, unreliability, rudeness, etc. now has fertile ground in which to flourish. So many end up becoming the mask and lose themselves to their ego. On the other hand I believe it’s possible to use this knowledge as leverage to increase the quality of life. If one introduces themselves to others a person who has an enthusiasm and curiosity for living, it would, over time, ingrain in the subconscious, and the need to make this statement true would eventually manifest no matter what.
But this is probably one in a million…