How I Woke Up from the Nightmare & Found my True Self.


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Oh, it’s such an exciting feeling when a book lands in our hands and stirs our inner selves.

Recently I picked up Courageous Dreaming by shaman and healer Dr. Alberto Villoldo and couldn’t put it down. The first few chapters set the stage for experiencing life as either a nightmare or an awakening.

My mental engine started to rev and flashbacks appeared as clues led me to an honest answer. Before I share my story, it’s important to learn about role-playing.

Throughout human history, a group of energies coalesced out of the ego into three primary roles: Rescuer, Bully, and Victim. Until we become aware of these archetypal roles and how they play out in us, we don’t even stop to consider if they are working for us or not. We act them out unconsciously and believe it is normal and rewarding to “perform” or express ourselves based on them.

Read the following descriptions and notice which relationships are rooted in one or more of these “award-winning” roles.

Old Roles.


Rescuers judge others as suffering or requiring some type of rescue. Without help, Rescuers assume others are incapable of improving their dire situation. Rescuers desire admiration for their efforts. Their private agenda is to want others to depend on them. Rescuers love being the charging hero.

As I reflected on my life, I see how much time and energy has been dedicated to the role of Rescuer. Yeesh, I even got a master’s degree in social work, a Rescuer by profession!

On countless occasions, I carried the stories of others in an imaginary backpack. Fixing and saving people was normal. I wore this backpack all the time and didn’t know how to put it down.

After several years of collecting stories, you can imagine how it weighed me down in my personal life. Until I learned the benefit of caring for, not rescuing clients, I was burned out, stuck, and numb. My long-term survival as a social worker and a spiritual person depended on the release of the Rescuer.


Bullies perceive others as unworthy and beneath them. Using pushy take-charge tactics, Bullies charge forward with their agenda. Intimidation is among their favorite tools. Others’ fear of them ignites their energies. Bullies love grabbing full authority and getting their own way.


Victims use others as pawns to get the attention they crave. They whine and cry “poor me” to get noticed. Victims advertise their suffering and pain in loud terms in an appeal to minimize the needs of others. They want everyone else to feel obligated to make things better for them—or at the least to recognize their victim status.

However, when we walk in the way of our spirit instead of ego, we shift energetic prototypes keeping us spellbound and consigned to well-worn roles we don’t even realize we’re playing. We begin to notice how these roles no longer resonate with our true self. We feel more authentic when we believe in ourselves and seek to assume more advanced roles.

Roles such as Spirit Dreamer, World Changer, and Healer lift us closer to our natural and true calling. These new roles serve as great growth opportunities and keep us alive and awake in body, mind, and spirit.

New Roles.


Healers are awakening to enlighten others. They teach higher truths with simplicity and grace. They offer all beings a path of discovery to connection, creativity, and openness. Mother Theresa was a healer who ministered the teachings of love, compassion, and healing by serving the poor and sick.

Once I decided to dump my old and ratty backpack it was time to choose another role. I left my full-time work as a cancer social worker and opened myself up to the idea of blending clinical skills with spiritual curiosity. Friends encouraged me to serve others by exchanging messages of love, peace, and joy.

To help me flow in the direction of my dreams I created a personal mission statement. The words are simple and true: To help others express and maximize the inner voice. Every day I am committed to shifting people out of nightmares and into awakened hearts and minds.

Spirit Dreamers.

Spirit Dreamers intend to bring dreams into the landscape of day to day living. They understand there is no difference between night dreaming and daydreaming. Their example helps others to retrieve their own dreams and make them come true. Loving parents take on this role for their children.

World Changers.

World Changers approach global challenges in fresh and meaningful ways.

Think of TV anchor Katie Couric. The unfortunate loss of her husband to colon cancer evolved into an international campaign to bring greater awareness to prevention and research into the disease. World Changers transform their private nightmares into inspiring the world.

Look inside and figure out if life is a nightmare or awakening. If there is a backpack to throw away, head for the nearest trashcan and discover a new role. Yes, it takes courage to wake up and stay up. Once we become aware of the practice of awakening, nightmares begin to dissipate and possibilities expand. We discover the rewards of quiet contentment in our maturing genuine selves.

Author: Rita Abdallah, LISW-S, LCSW-C, ACSW
Image: Unsplash
Editor: Lieselle Davidson


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Rita Abdallah Apr 29, 2017 2:51pm

Blessings dear Staci, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts here. I love you too! :)

Staci Summers Apr 27, 2017 8:40pm

Very inspiring and touching article. Bless you for your courage and strength. You are an inspiration! Love you!

Rita Abdallah Apr 25, 2017 10:16pm

With heartfelt gratitude my dear Kimberly!

Rita Abdallah Apr 25, 2017 10:15pm

Josh, I am moved and touched by your words. Thanks for sharing your story. Thanks for telling the world about your determination to find another way to live and express yourself. You are a gift Josh. Please continue to grow and glow!

Kimberly Urban Payne Apr 25, 2017 2:28pm

Beautiful Rita Abdallah!!!

Josh Habansky Apr 25, 2017 11:38am

Wow! I read inspiring articles everyday but this reallyyyy resonates with me. As someone who's suffered with bulimia for over a decade, as hard as it is to admit, I've absolutely taken on the victim role. Because I've tried so many things so heal, I'm frustrated and this has contributed to the perpetuation of my victim mentality. I love this and especially as I begin my coursework to be a psychiatric NP, I intend in reading the book you suggest. Thank you for your wisdom.

Rita Abdallah Apr 24, 2017 8:50pm

Paula, thank you for your words! May you stay inspired and practice the new and life-affirming roles! It makes such a difference to our inner self! :))

Paula Jacobson Apr 24, 2017 8:01pm

Rita, This makes so much good sense. Thanks for taking the time to organize your thoughts into an article and congratulations on getting it published!

Rita Abdallah Apr 24, 2017 6:36pm

Blessings and many thanks Diana! You warmth and photo is energy is here! So happy you're sharing the message! �

Diane Dickinson Risdon Apr 24, 2017 6:22pm

This makes so much sense. Thank your for such an insightful article. Sharing it with my friends!

Rita Abdallah Apr 24, 2017 3:21pm

Keep on shining Marin! Glad you're moving past Victim and stepping fully into your light. It is so easy to take on those familiar roles, right??Awareness of and commitment to yoga and mantras will anchor you and inspire all of us. Blessings! :)

Marin Shanley Apr 24, 2017 2:23pm

As a two-time cancer survivor, I find that I can easily fall into the role of Victim, but as I look forward to teaching yoga to other cancer survivors, I am aware that I must guard against assuming the role of Rescuer. Thank you, Rita, for this clear and insightful piece. It truly resonated with me!

Rita Abdallah Apr 24, 2017 2:21am

So grateful you enjoyed it Jennifer :) Blessings on journey.

Jennifer Evangelista Apr 23, 2017 10:00pm

Thank you!

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Rita Abdallah

Rita Abdallah, LISW-S, LCSW-C, ACSW is a national speaker, intuitive, blogger, and award-winning wellness coach. She is an authority on the topics of happiness, cancer survivorship, work-life balance, self-care, and conquering stress.

Rita’s programs are a blend of her deep wonder of practicing of life. She is known for her spirited and intelligent teaching and coaching style. Students receive clear and practical guidance on how to feel strong, hopeful, and inspired about life and spirit.

Through her company, Turning Point, Rita shares divine teachings in useful and accessible ways, reminding us that there is always space for all beings to connect to the practice of love, peace, and joy.