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  • Melissa Brunetti

Victim to Victorious

"And then I am like a fire-breathing dragon. I would just imagine this black smoke when I breathe out is all the bad that's in there that's locked up inside of me..."

Hey, everybody, thanks for tuning in to the Mind Your Own Karma podcast. I'm your host, Melissa, and I recently had a listener tell me that I should do a podcast about bitterness. They were struggling with bitterness, and they were just not able to let it go, and so I thought that would be a great topic to bring to the podcast because I think a lot of people struggle with bitterness in one way or another.

Sometimes it could be through something traumatic that happened to you, a lot of times it’s about something that you didn't voice in the moment, and so that thing that you didn't say is just sitting inside of you, basically festering kind of like a splinter in your finger or something. Every time you touch it, it hurts, and it just reminds you of that time that you didn't speak up or maybe something had happened to you and you felt helpless in the moment.

I did a little research on bitterness online, and I'm going to talk about some of the things that I found there. And then at the end, I'm just going to give you my own little spin on it, and just being authentic about myself and what I think about bitterness and maybe some ways that you can help alleviate that hopeless feeling.

So, when I looked up bitterness online, it said bitterness is a chronic state of smoldering resentment, and it's considered one of the most destructive and toxic of human emotions. It's a feeling of helplessness coupled with a loss of control, and to me, I think bitterness is a product of unresolved anger. It's the anger that you didn't deal with in the moment, so it just sits inside of you because you haven't dealt with it. It's like that stagnant water, and it just becomes so toxic.

I think of anger as an emotion, and bitterness as a physical and mental manifestation of unresolved anger. There is literally a laundry list of things that can manifest from your bitterness: you can develop anxiety and depression, it can steal your joy, it can cause cycles of vengeance or revenge, it can cause you to distrust everyone, it increases your cynicism, It causes paranoia and hostility, it makes you become pessimistic, it makes you doubt the personal connections in your life, and it can hinder making new relationships or keeping old relationships healthy.

And the obvious one is, it can increase stress, which makes your immune system self-destruct, basically. You can just make yourself so sick with the stress of it and the weight of it. And it can also mimic symptoms as if you had a trauma, which you could have had a trauma that you're bitter about.

So, it could cause things like sleeplessness, fatigue, low self-esteem, personality shifts, and again, the inability to have any kind of healthy relationship. And I think what keeps us in that bitter loop is that feeling of helplessness that you probably had, and also maybe you're a little mad at yourself because sometimes you didn't take care of something in the moment. You didn't honor your authenticity, and you allowed something to happen or someone to say something to you or do something to you that you didn't speak up, you didn't defend yourself, and it's so hard to take responsibility for something traumatic like that.

And you may have even just been a child and something happened to you, and you really felt like you had no control over the situation, and those are things that really you should seek out a counselor and talk to somebody about that, because that is some serious bitterness to have to deal with on your own.You really, really should have some guidance in how to alleviate that.

So, obviously there's some levels of bitterness because really you could have had a really serious trauma and that needs help navigating through that. So, I'm not necessarily talking about that kind of bitterness, I'm just kind of talking about on the surface bitterness, and not delving deep into the traumatic experience bitterness. But I do think there are some ways to cope and to overcome bitterness, and those things are what I'm going to be talking about today, and hopefully if you are harboring any bitterness that it might help a little bit.

So, one cycle that I've seen, and I have experienced myself when it comes to bitterness, and let me tell you, when you're in the depths of bitterness, this is not something that you really want to think about. But when you repeatedly think about how you were a victim in this situation, it could eventually define you and it can become a part of you, because you are constantly thinking about it and you're constantly replaying it in your mind and probably constantly beating yourself up about, I should have done this, I should have done that. And we stay stuck in that victim role over and over and over again, which is just not a healthy place to be, And the more you say it and the more you tell the story to yourself and other people, you're keeping it alive and you're just picking at that scab and opening the wound over and over and over again. I know it probably sounds like I'm saying just get over it, and I'm not, trust me. Because bitterness is such a hard thing to get over. You just can't get over it.

But staying in that victim mode isn't helping you either. So, just be aware when you are telling the story, even if you're not telling it out loud and you're just replaying it to yourself, that you are creating that as your reality. You're reliving the hurt, you're reliving all the feelings, you're reliving all the anger, and that really isn't serving you. And at that point, really, you are not a victim of whoever hurt you, you're a victim of yourself because you keep digging up the hurt and you keep picking at the scab. And I think that's so hard to kind of see in the moment because it's so easy. It's so much easier to blame someone else for your feelings and the bitterness that you have than to actually do something about it. Again, a lot of times we're waiting for that knight in shining armor to come and save us from whatever we're bitter about.

But that isn't going to happen. That person is most likely, if they haven't already come to you to apologize, they're probably not going to, so what do you do at that point? Because they're not going to ask for forgiveness. So, what are you going to do to help yourself? The other thing that happens is the feeling of being the victim becomes so comfortable, and it is a familiar feeling that you've become complacent with and you've identified with it so much, and you've harbored it for so long that it's difficult to let go of, even though it doesn't feel good, it's familiar. And to change that, I mean, that's become a part of you now. It's a label that you have put on yourself. So, when you take that label off, then what? Who are you? If you let the label victim go, then what are you left with?

You've identified with that so much that it's difficult to let it go. And so what do we do? A lot of times what we'll do is when we start getting into that victim vortex and start spinning and we feel out of control, what's the crutch that you lean on at that point to help you get through? A lot of times you start to feel anxious because you cannot control that person. You cannot make them come to you and apologize

So, you're left with that vicious vortex, that out of control feeling. And that out of control feeling is another thing that becomes so familiar, even though it's so uncomfortable, it is familiar, so we hang onto it. All this does is prolong your state of being in a miserable place. It's just prolonging that. And I know that you feel stuck and you feel like, I don't want to be this way.

I don't want to feel this bitterness, I want to let it go. But how, and with social media and things now, sometimes being a victim, even before social media, being a victim, there's a payoff in it, right? Because people feel sorry for you and you get some attention and you get a little bit of a band-aid to put on that scab for a second where people are like, “Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry that happened to you. That was not right,” and whatever. And those people, I'm sure you've got that friend on Facebook that puts the post like, “Oh, I just can't do this anymore.” And then you're left wondering, what happened? Are you okay? So, everyone's posting, “What's going on? Call me.” And “What's going on? Are you okay?”

And people feed off of that. They feed off of it. They get that little bit of positive attention that helps them cope in the moment, and they feel heard, and they feel cared about, and they feel good in the moment. But that's not really something that's going to get rid of the bitterness, it's just going to help prolong it a little bit more, because you are able to cope for another day.

And man, can bitterness take your energy and just sap you. It takes a lot of energy to carry that bitterness day in and day out, and deal with the anxiety and the hurt, and everything that comes along with it. It’s exhausting. Giving your power away is really kind of what you're doing, and you're giving your power away to that person that hurt you every single time. You're doing it again, and you're giving it freely this time.

And every time you're just increasing that victim mentality when you keep focusing on who wronged you, what happened, all of that, instead of looking inward and focusing on the actual injury and the feelings that you're feeling. And to deal with those, that's where you need to be putting your power and your energy into, looking inward and seeing exactly where you're hurting. That way when you pinpoint it, you can start to fix it. Why do I feel this way?

And that might sound like a very obvious question, but I think if you dig deeper and really narrow it down, then that's when you can figure out the direction that you need to go to let go of that victim mentality and the bitterness. I mean, like I said, you can only control you, and if you sit there and wait to be vindicated, you're going to be sitting there forever, and nothing is going to get better.

I mean, ask yourself the serious question. And again, it sounds so obvious in your first reaction, but if you really think about it, do you want to let go of the bitterness and the victim mentality, or do you want to stay there? It's a serious question, and of course you think the answer is, “Of course I don't want to feel this way.” That sounds like a stupid question. Then why do so many people want to stay there? They want to stay stuck because that gives you a pass from actually living life, which sometimes sounds so draining because you're already giving all your energy away. You have no energy left to become somebody else because this has become who you are, and it's comfortable, and it's easy because I don't have to think about it. It's like a mountain climber only climbing halfway up the mountain and just sitting there.

And because it's so hard to climb the rest of the mountain. And I'm tired now, and I don't want to, so I'm just going to sit and stay in this spot because it's easy. Even though I know at the top of the mountain I'm going to see this beautiful view up there, and it's just going to be something that I've never seen before, and I'm going to learn a lot along the way, that just sounds so tiring, though. I just want to sit right here. I can survive right here. I can see partially the view, so it's okay, I'm good. I don't need to go to the top. But man, you're missing out. You're missing out on that beautiful view, you're missing out on the exercise that you're going to get. You are going to miss out on learning some things along the way.

You're going to miss out on all the lessons that you could have learned about yourself and being a better person and being a healthier person, mentally, physically, all the way around, just getting out of that victim vortex, getting up off your ass and getting climbing that mountain. Let's go, let's start climbing, just start. It's going to be uncomfortable as hell, but you're worth the climb. You are so worth the climb.

The only way to get your power back is to focus on you and your healing because you can't control anything else, but you can control you because you're giving your power and energy to something that you can't control, which is the other person, which increases all those feelings of anxiety and those out of control vortex, victim feelings. That is where you're putting your energy and that is increasing your anxiety. It's such a vicious cycle that becomes a complacent rerun in your brain that needs to be reprogrammed, really, it needs to be reprogrammed.

And luckily, that label victim that you have decided to wear and put those clothes on, the victim clothes, you know what? They can be taken off. Just take them off.

Another thing that you're in control of is what labels you decide to wear and what labels you decide to live with. And I think, just realizing that you can't go back and change what happened, you can't change that thing, but what you can do is take some action to move forward, even if it's just in small little steps. And you know what, you're going to take two steps forward and one step back, but just keep going. It's not easy to shed that label of bitterness, it's so difficult for so many reasons. You just want that person to pay, and you want to see that karma. You want to see that karma come around, and you might not.

You might, you might, but you might not in this lifetime. And so you have to be okay with the control that you do have, which is you. If your well-being hinges on waiting for some kind of justice, then your bitterness is only affecting you, not them. It's not keeping them up at night, it's keeping you up at night. So, you are being victimized by you, and you're still giving power to that other person, and you're not taking your power back. And until you're ready to let go, then that's when you can start to heal. But you’ve got to let it go, and I'm not saying it's easy. I know I've said this a thousand times. I'm just reminding. I mean, things are coming back to my brain that I'm bitter about or have been bitter about in the past, and I'm thinking, man, it's just so hard.

And being a righteous victim, that is so hard to let go of because you're probably right. You are probably right that what happened to you was horrible. Okay, so now what? You have a choice to make victim or victory. Which one do you want to be? Stop letting bitterness be an excuse for you not to change because maybe you fear change, or you fear failing. And a lot of times we don't want to let go because we feel like we're giving that person that hurt us a free pass.

They're not getting a free pass. I personally believe in karma. They're not getting a free pass. Something along the way is going to happen, and you might not see it, but that is one thing that gets me through, is knowing that no one gets away with anything. And it also keeps me in line because when something happens and I have a choice to make, I think, “What do I want for myself in the future?

What's the right thing to do?” Because it's going to come back around and get me, it's going to.

So, it's either going to be a good thing or a not so good thing. So, that's always been my compass, is karma.

I mind my own karma, and whoever hurt me is going to have to deal with theirs too, and that's just the way it is. I'm a total believer in it, and that helps alleviate that kind of revenge that you might want to have against somebody, because it's going to get them. It's going to. And in a way, it kind of makes me feel sorry for that person because I know that they're creating that. They're creating it. And I don't wish harm on anybody, really, because that's not a good feeling to have or a wish to put on somebody. So, I try not to feel that way against anyone.

And I really, really do have compassion towards people that create a not so good future for themselves by making these bad decisions and hurting people. You can't be happy. You cannot be happy and have a happy life when you are hurting people. And you could pretend that you didn't know that you hurt someone, but I just don't believe that, though. I think down deep, if you did hurt somebody, maybe not intentionally, but when you do and you don't go back to that person and apologize, then that's just going to bring some bad karma back to you. I mean, the apology isn't really admitting that you're wrong, it's just admitting that I'm sorry what I said or did hurt you. Even if it wasn't intentional, that needs to happen because otherwise it's going to affect relationships.

And I'm singing to the choir right now as I'm saying these words, and here I'm going to be authentic with you as I'm saying these words. Things are coming up for me that I need to deal with, and it's reminding me of things that I need to do.Those things are probably affecting… I know it is, it's affecting the joy in my life and the joy that I am missing out on because I have some things that I need to go back and talk to people about that I've hurt. And it's just bringing that up for me.

So, like I said, every time I do an episode or even think about doing… I've been thinking about doing this episode for probably a good three weeks now. And I am not kidding, the bitterness, something new happened and I didn't speak up, and so that bitterness just sits in there. And yeah, there's some things that I need to deal with. Let's just say that it's like one of those be careful what you wish for, and I know I've said this on other episodes. Every time I start to, you know, oh here comes karma. You think you know about bitterness?

Well, here, remember this. Or maybe you didn't know that. So, let's learn that right now so that you can bring it to the podcast. So, I think I really need to sit down and think about what I'm bringing to the podcast before I bring it, because I get kicked in the butt every time.

And just to kind of go off subject for just a second, I recently was interviewed for somebody else's podcast, a friend of mine, unscripted, and I was talking about authenticity. And so, I was talking a lot about my past, and things that I've said on here that you guys already know about, but I was talking about some other stuff and going more in depth with it, and we had been talking for probably, you know, 30 to 40 minutes.

And I thought I was fine with talking about all this stuff, and I literally started to feel sick to my stomach, literally like I was going to throw up. I got done with the interview, and I was able to hold it until then, but I literally had to lay down for a couple of hours, and my stomach just hurt so bad. And I was like, “Man, is this still affecting me? Do I need to deal with some of this?” I don't know, I still honestly don't know what happened. I almost feel like it really wasn't the subject per se.

But I know for myself, I'm really good at always being okay, and I'm doing the little quotation marks you can't see with my fingers. I'm always okay, and I feel okay, but I think I trick myself into feeling okay, and I just keep going, but then it manifests in my body and it happens quicker now than it used to. I was able to trick myself longer, but now it comes a lot quicker to me, and it just reminds me that I need to self-evaluate. I need to look in the mirror. What's going on?

So, yeah, a lot of times I think that this podcast is for me, because I always felt like I had dealt with a bunch of things, but there's always more. There's always more, and there's always something we could be better, something that we could be more authentic about. All this life is is a learning experience is really what it is. It's a masterclass. And we're here just to keep learning and evolving and growing and being better and all those things. And so, that is what this podcast has been doing for me. Every episode, really. Every episode.

So, anyway, we kind of got off track a little bit there. But anyway, so let's get back to bitterness and let's get into how we can overcome bitterness. So, all the things that you've been using to cope with your bitterness, the anxiety, the victim state, all the things that you're using to cope, they're really just a band-aid that's covering the open sore underneath. You know how sometimes you put a band-aid on, it's your skin color? So, “Hey, look, I’m healed, I'm healed, look.” But you're not really, you're just covering the sore so it looks healed, and that helps you feel better in the moment, but you’ve always gotta rip that band-aid off and it's still there. Your bitterness is still there, and your anger keeps that wound open and you just keep picking at it.

You know how when you cover it with the band-aid it doesn't really heal like it needs to? You need to take the band-aid off and let the air hit it so that it can scab, and then it could start to heal. So, sometimes that band-aid, it does protect it a little bit, kind of like your ego protects you a little bit, but it's going to really keep you from healing if you don't watch it. And a lot of times we don't want to take the band-aid off because then you see the sore, and it just reminds you that it's there, you know? So, it's kind of that constant reminder that you're still hurting.

But we have to look at it. Is it red? Is it infected? What exactly is going on here? Do you need an antibiotic? How are we going to fix this? If you don't look at it, you can't begin to see how to heal, how to fix it. So, you do. You have to analyze. That's the first thing that you need to do is analyze the sore and reevaluate. I mean, bitterness is really fed by sympathy. We talked about that.

So, reevaluate and ask yourself, what did you lose in the situation? What did you lose? What have you really lost? And ask yourself, can I still get it? Can I get it back? And do I even want that thing anymore? Or am I just holding onto the anger? Do I really want it back? The other thing that is so, so important to do when you're trying to overcome bitterness is to stop telling the story. Stop telling it to yourself, stop wearing the labels that come along with whatever happened, stop calling yourself those names, whatever they are, and stop telling other people the story.

Stop picking at the scab and narrow down and identify the source of the bitterness. Really narrow it down and start telling yourself a different story. Make a new way to look at the past, which is going to change your present and your future. So, look at how the bitterness has affected you and how letting it go is going to benefit you, and feel the feelings. How are you going to feel to let it go? And maybe that's a scary thing to think about because you don't know, but you won't be in that same anxiety-ridden spot. You're not going to be stuck on the side of the mountain anymore.

So, how is that going to feel to reach the top and feel the sunshine on your face? And to be able to look out at your life at a different perspective, a more positive perspective? How is that going to feel? You have to flip the script and start telling yourself a more positive story, your story, the one that you want to live, not the one that you already did. That's in the past, so why are you living back there? Stop living your life looking at the rear view mirror. Look ahead. Look ahead and manifest your life. You have that power to do that. Stop giving that power to someone else.

You know, bitterness, I know you've probably heard this thing, but it's like drinking poison. You're drink the poison, but you're hoping the other person dies, and you just keep drinking it. And who's dying? You are. You are slowly dying. Stop it. Stop drinking the poison. So, after you've identified and narrowed down the hurt and all those things, maybe one way to cope would be to write an anger letter to the person that hurt you, not to give to them, but just to get your feelings out and be able to express what they did to you and how it made you feel.

And for me, personally, I think it kind of feels really good to actually light it on fire and burn it and not give it to the person, but just burn it and just watch it disappear is so cathartic. It just really helps me, that visual really helps me, and helps with the bitterness. It really does, the anger.

And you know, when you write the letter, write down, “You do not have any power over me anymore. I am taking every ounce of what you took from me, I'm taking it back, and you can no longer hurt me anymore.” They have taken enough from you, and you aren't allowing it anymore. That they no longer have any control over your mental or physical health, that you're taking it all back.

And the other thing that really needs to happen is you need to give yourself some compassion and be kind to yourself. And maybe there's parts of the story that you need to forgive yourself, that you need to apologize for, to you for allowing the violation, the hurt, whatever happened. You need to forgive yourself for allowing it in the first place. Maybe you didn't speak up. Whatever it is, you trusted somebody that you shouldn't have trusted. You stayed quiet and didn't tell anybody. You need to forgive yourself for those things.

And you know what? You were doing the best you could. You were doing the best you could and you were just trying to cope. But now that you know better, you need to do better, so let's do the work and let's get out of this victim vortex and stop being violated and be victorious. Stand on that mountain with your hands over your head, reaching toward the sky, and be joyful and happy in the journey because it's a tough one.

And you deserve every bit of happiness. You're a survivor. You are a survivor. So, forgive yourself for your part, whatever it is, because a lot of times what happens is you redirect your anger because you can't look at what you're responsible for and you don't want to do that. You don't want to hurt other people because you've all heard the saying, “Hurt people, hurt people,” and you don't want to hurt people.

And one of the things that I read online to do, which I thought was just kind of stupid to be honest because it's the last thing that you want to hear when you're in the midst of being bitter, but they recommended that you just need to forgive your violator and start healing, that you just need to forgive them. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know if that is a practical thing when you're in the midst of bitterness.

I could see writing the anger letter and burning it. That feels good. But to be able to forgive them, I don't know. I don't know if I could do that.

So, my spin on it for me is either, I would have to maybe do something physical. And not hurt the person. I'm not saying that. But they have these rage rooms now where you could go in there and take a sledgehammer and just start beating on a car or something. I mean, if that gets some of that anger out, I think it's pretty healthy, to be honest, If that's a practical way to get that anger out, I would do it.

The other thing that I recommend that helps me is that breathing exercise that I talked about a few weeks ago where I just breathe in some gold or white light, take in the hugest breath I can, and hold it in as long as I can, so that it permeates every cell of this good energy. And then I am like a fire-breathing dragon. I would just imagine this black smoke when I breathe out is all the bad that's in there that's locked up inside of me. And it really does help that visual. It just makes you feel so good.

I mean, taking a deep breath, and just being in the moment feels good anyway, but having that visual where you are laser beaming it to a certain thing that you're wanting to get out of you, it just really feels good. And you should try that. I mean, even when you're feeling angry, overwhelmed, anxiety, stress, any negative feelings, try that and just breathe it out. It really helps.

And I can't stress enough how important it is to seek out a licensed counselor for some of the trauma that might have happened to you that you are feeling bitter about. To be able to work through that in a healthy way with somebody that's a licensed therapist is a much needed option sometimes, so don't hesitate to do that and get the help that you need to heal.

So, I have a Full Moon episode of the Karma Files coming up on the full moon, March 18th, so be on the lookout for that. In this episode, I am talking about the historic Murphys Hotel in Murphys, California. And if you're at all interested in hearing what happened to me there and what my experience was, you can take a listen. I will also be adding a photo that was taken there, not by me, but by somebody that was working at the hotel, and I'd like you to go to my Instagram and Facebook pages on the 18th and take a look at the photo. I really would like to know what you see in the photo. I have looked at it and I think it's pretty cool.

So, anyway, be looking for that on the 18th. It's a bonus episode. And as always, take what you need and leave what you don't, and always remember to mind your own karma. We'll see you next time.

Mind Your Own Karma S1 E14 Victim to Victorious


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