Changing the Status Quo Basement

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. The views below are not intended to be a proclamation of aspirations in the mental health field. They are simply observations about something I think I could help change. 

I got back late from my vacation and couldn’t sleep, so I didn’t. I was up until the sun came up, tried to sleep, and only dozed for five hours or so. Then my quest for status quo proxima got me back to my desk and I started catching up on things I didn’t want to bother with while while I was away. While I was going through the “daily reflections for highly effective people” that I took along with me but didn’t actually do, I realized a couple of things about two people who I hope to recruit for my campaign to change the world. They are similar ages and dispositions, and first impressions might lead you to recognize they are the first people to put themselves down. Both have raised “self victimization” to a high art. The only thing you can say to criticize them is that they steal all the comments you might want to make yourself.

That might make them the last group of people I would want to tackle, but I think it actually makes them the first. If they can manage to give themselves a chance when it comes to change, I think they would be great role models for others who are like them. How many of us know people who seem to be the opposite of luck magnets? Anything that can go wrong for them does, and they are happy to tell you about it. They raise “woe is me” to new levels that the rest of us stand back and observe cautiously while thinking, “I’m glad I have a more positive attitude.”

Suspend your disbelief for a moment and imagine that I can actually do something to help someone like this get out of their own way. What happens if they can turn themselves around and get out of the kind of situation most of us dread? They’ve vacated the basement of the status quo. Nature abhors a vacuum. What will happen when the weight of the culture around these two people shifts because they are no longer there for the rest of us to look down on?

Someone new will be in the basement. Someone else who is slightly less of a victim will find there is no one to pick on anymore. Maybe these new basement dwellers are just bullies who never did much other than bully people who were already victimizing themselves. They didn’t have to do very much to feel better about themselves, because a simple glance would make the self victims go back to the basement. What will they do if the floor is taken away from them? How are they going to feel when they are at the bottom, and those of us who have risen above bullying and self-victimization recognize what they have been doing?

Would they be the next audience for my offerings? Can I really be so bold (or arrogant) as to suggest that I could help them as well? What would it mean to society of the basement of status quo kept moving UP because the people who occupied it decided to move somewhere else? It’s one thing for people who get the implications of what I am talking about and join me to raise the ceiling for where we could all go together. But can I really drain some of the sludge out of the bottom of the lake and raise all the ships by changing where the bottom of the lake used to be?

I’m obviously very tired, but maybe that is a good thing. I haven’t spoken to either of the people I was thinking about when I came up with the idea for this post. Both of them scare me with their skill at running themselves down. I actually find myself being uncomfortable around them because they suck negative energy out of me, leaving me with the feeling I somehow had a role in their victimization. Maybe they are just manipulating me because their victimization gives them control of their situation. They’ve been practicing this behavior for a very long time. It won’t be a quick fix or an easy one.

But imagine how failure at this would validate their victimization. They would still be at the bottom of the status quo basement, and might have actually dug themselves in a little deeper, because they were able to thwart my efforts to help them rise above their condition. When you don’t have much, maybe being the person most pitied has value the rest of us would never appreciate. We want to be as far away from the basement as possible, and the energy we give off powers their world.

Should I bother to do this? Am I opening Pandora’s Basement?


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