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The one thing I refuse to do is see a person as a victim. They may be a survivor of some pretty horrific situations that would include some of the most inhumane actions of another, but still, I refuse to SEE them as a victim. You may be victimized by circumstances, but if you accept and refuse to overcome your circumstances, you will accept the label of victim and the hopeless and helpless victim mindset that goes with it. You also have the option to choose to be a survivor and from that mindset there is hope.

When I work with survivors the first thing I say to them is, "You are not defined by the things that happened to you. You did not ask for this to happen and you are not responsible for the things that others did to you. But you can use what happened to become more than you could have ever been before it happened."

I have worked with women and men who have stories most people would not be able to listen to. They are the stories of slasher movies, burn wards, war, and terrible abuse at the hands of "loved ones." They wonder why they didn't die and feel guilty that they lived. They see themselves as broken, discarded, and unlovable and they cry from the depths of their pain ridden souls. They come to therapy to overcome their past and I help walk them through their pain, to reframe their lives not as a victim, but as a Victor who has overcome their circumstances to be born-again into a new life of their choosing. Many Victors become doctors, nurses, cops and firefighters. They are mothers, daughters, and sisters, They are fathers, sons, and brothers. They are business owners, judges, and therapists. And they are the people I love and admire the most.

When you let labels define who you are - there is a large part of you that you give away; you lose your ability to be seen as an individual. A group quickly becomes a mob when others attempt to break free of the labels and the mob will destroy anyone who attempts to leave because they do not want to be seen and they hate autonomy. To become an icon you must stand out from the group. You must rise above those around you in order to be seen. Labels limit growth potential and you have to remove labels in order to be truly free.

Alyssa Keys is such an icon. She is a multiple Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and at 39 years old she is stepping away from the labels that defined her. Recently, Alyssa became known for her refusing to wear make-up and "going natural." It's true she does have a skin care routine and has developed her own line of skin care products, but it's the fact that she wants to be seen for who she is that I admire the most. It takes guts and grit to take a stand against the norms of society and she's not afraid of being seen.

"'Cause I don't want to cover up anymore.

Not my face,

not my mind,

not my soul,

not my thoughts,

not my dreams,

not my struggles,

not my emotional growth.


Alyssa Keys


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