My early experiences working in human services resurfaced the trauma of many of my own personal challenges. I found a lot of commonality between my life story and that of the people served by the organizations for which I worked. This led to a strong sense of experiential empathy to complement my feelings of generalized or theoretical compassion. I truly felt solidarity with others based on my own past and felt that this made me more effective in my work. Yet, I found myself focusing on the most negative aspects of my personal life story. I became a professional victim.
Focusing on problems is quite common in human service and other nonprofit organizations. It is the modus operandi and the basis upon which organizations justify their existence and promote their case for support.
I feel that acting as a professional victim was psychologically damaging. Rather than learning from and healing my past to move forward, I felt stuck in the mire of my previous lives.
Now that I am more mature, I understand that I can still feel compassion, empathy, and solidarity with others without limiting myself to the most negative aspects of my life story. I can focus on all of the good things we have in common as well as the bad or challenging things. We can engage around our shared dreams for the future.
I have become a provocateur of possibility.