THE PATTERN PAGES
Unlike the "Power Victim", these Powerless Patterns spring from real feelings of powerlessness, from real situations of helplessness. They continue acting out the state of helplessness that they are locked in, regardless of the current-day reality.
For instance, as children we have few options when being abused. As children our position of powerlessness is very real - physically, emotionally, and economically. But as adults we have many more choices available to us. What keeps us locked into repeating patterns of powerlessness is the unhealed pain from the earlier reality.
There is no substitute for healing the old wounds. There is no shortcut to regaining personal power. Those who are in positions of power, who are severed from their own feelings of powerlessness (or are pretending to be) will say "Hey, it's easy, just get up and take back your power, stop being a victim." It's easy to criticise from outside the pattern, to look down on the victim and say "Well, you must like it down there in the mud then, if that's what you choose." Or to accuse the victim of being merely manipulative.
Unfortunately, the powerless patterns often do manipulate others. However, like all patterns, there is real pain beneath the spinning, and if that pain can be felt and cried, then the pattern can be broken.
With this pattern, the person pretty much lies down in life, letting others walk all over them. They constantly find themselves in awkward situations where others are taking advantage of them, but they somehow just couldn't say "no". The feelings running undercurrent to this pattern are usually terror of punishment and/or loss of love - "if I don't do what is asked, others will be angry, hate me, reject me, think of me as unloving, uncooperative, unwilling..." etc. etc.
The danger with this pattern is the rage that results from constantly being taken advantage of usually turns inward and begins to eat at the person from the inside. This can manifest in self-destructive behaviors, hurting one's self, becoming accident prone, illnesses, etc. But saying "no" triggers such strong terror and guilt that the Doormat pattern rarely says it. And if they do, they usually have to punish themselves for it, or find ways for others to punish them. The pattern says "It's not ok to have your own needs, desires, or to deny the needs/desires of others."
This pattern, like the other Victim patterns, is primarily run by self-hate and fear, and a belief that life will only deal out blows. The HangDog anticipates the blows, and like a dog that has been beaten, goes into a submissive stance before a hand can even be raised. In fact, many HangDog people walk around constantly with their heads down. They enter the door with apologies and submissive stances. Unfortunately, most people respond to this ultra-submissiveness with irritation. And an angry response only reinforces the HangDog's belief that life will deal only blows. Instead of standing up and fighting back, they will cower even lower in hopes that you won't hit them with your anger.
The Great Martyr
This pattern has many manifestations, and is often found in conjunction with other patterns. For instance, it's very common to find a Guru/Shark flip into the Martyr pattern when confronted. Then they claim all they wanted was to help, to share information or their wisdom, etc, and now they suffer from being misunderstood by the great unwashed masses that they are trying to help.
When the Martyr is the dominant pattern however, the person will actually set up situations in which they can be rejected.
There are many more manifestations of the Martyr. Usually if there's guilt involved, you're dealing with one of the Martyr patterns.
A particularly irritating form of Martyr, The Fool is the guy who used to entertain kings at court by imitating the rich and pompous. The Fool believes it is his job, his DUTY, to disturb people, to shake up their belief systems. He will do this in any way he can. He will be confrontive, he will make fun of others, he will tease, provoke, mimic, and he tells himself that it is all for the good of others. He is only showing you to yourself, after all, and if you become angry, that's further evidence of your denials, and he is satisfied that he has succeeded in shaking you up.
However, the important part of this pattern is that he inevitably does make people angry and finds himself rejected. He will continue provoking the situation until this happens. He's not fully satisfied with someone saying "Yes, you're right, I have denial there, thanks for pointing that out to me." The pattern will only be fully satisfied when he has provoked anger and rejection. So he always ends up as the victim, rejected, cast out, unappreciated, nailed to the cross. And then, when he skulks away by himself, he mutters to himself angrily, "I was only trying to help. I am always so misunderstood, a prophet crucified again." He tells himself that he doesn't care. But he does. Rejection hurts. But it's what he expects. Anticipates. Acceptance would run so contrary to the pattern that he has to make sure it never happens.
Another manifestation of the Martyr pattern, the Ever-Giver never thinks of themselves. The are constantly giving to others, and never are appreciated for how much they give... and they usually find a way to make sure you know it. The stereotype of this is the Jewish mother who makes sure her children suffer with guilt every minute of the day for how much she has done for them, "selflessly".
This type of Martyr can suffer in silence. Part of the pattern here is that they suffer more than anybody else, and nobody cares. Nobody notices. Except of course that they secretly want you to notice and feel sorry for them.
The reality this pattern lives in is truly alone and hurting, and so any attempt to cross the walls and give comfort and caring will usually be rejected or sabotaged somehow. The pattern lives in its aloneness and can't allow love or comfort in. This is truly frustrating from the outside, if you love somebody with this pattern, because nothing you do will be able to reach them. Nothing you do can stop the suffering.
This pattern is one of the hardest to heal, because continued suffering is part of the pattern, and so getting the person to stop acting out the suffering and actually CRY the pain is really tough. The first thing they have to deal with is that once they cry their pain, they won't be suffering anymore. Any payoff they've been getting from being the Sufferer will be lost. Many Sufferers don't want to give up the payoff.
The Little Match Girl (or Boy)
This is a sad-sack of a pattern that is very hard to get out of. The spiral of this pattern is like a sucking whirlpool. The Little Match Girl moves through life in a constant state of lack. She hangs her head, walks with a shuffle, never has enough of anything - love, food, comfort, warmth, shelter - her reality is entirely one of lack.
They will often attract someone with a Rescuer pattern, but no matter how much you do for a Little Match Girl, it will never be enough. You will either be sucked dry (at which point the Rescuer pattern may flip into the Martyr pattern) or they'll drag you down to their level of lack. Or you'll become angry and disgusted and leave them to their own reality.
Since the feelings underlying this pattern are real, they can be cried and changed. But all too often the Little Match Girl is judged as weak and whiny, and so she goes underground and acts out in a state of denial. Then you get a person who is trying consciously to have a normal life, but who seems to be constantly sabotaged by life or themselves. They lose jobs and they can't always tell you why. They may be constantly late, but it's never their fault. They are always in debt. In trouble. Things just go wrong, and they don't seem to have any control over it.
The Ultimate Victim
Someone who has Victim as their Life Pattern will often act out in a combination of all the above ways. They may be a Doormat, and a Little Match Girl. They may take these to extremes and become a punching bag for an abusive husband or wife. Women most often get trapped in the Ultimate Victim patterns, but men can have this pattern too.
When Victim is a Life Pattern, there are many complex emotions underlying. There is the fear of saying no that the Doormat carries. There is belief in lack and woe that the Little Match Girl carries. And there is layer upon layer of self-hate that finds a multitude of ways to act out on itself.
The belief that you deserve to be hurt, hit, rejected, punished, or even killed, cannot be changed by just knowing or thinking. There is pain that needs to be healed, pain that says "I am nothing."
Things are further tangled up and made more complicated by the desperate desire for love and the mistaken belief that if you let the other person hate you, abuse you, etc., they will love you. This is somewhat reinforced by the abuser's apology afterwards, but in truth, it's a never ending spiral downward, with the abuse escalating.
For more on Abusive Patterns, see
* Chart of Coercion
The important thing to remember here is that the patterns keep the real feelings at bay, and prevent actual healing from taking place. It's necessary to cry the pain underlying every pattern in order to truly stop the spinning and destructive behaviors. If you simply attempt to stop the pattern or force a change in the behavior, you'll often find yourself acting out the opposite side of the pattern. Victims will act out as perpetrators.