Do you feel unlucky, are you constantly complaining about your life and you think the world is angry with you? Maybe you are a victim of Calimero syndrome. Here’s what it is and how to get out of it
Even if you are not familiar with Calimero’s syndrome, know that we are all part of the ranks of eternal discontents, always ready, as we are, to grumble and complain.
But then how to get out of the trap of easy complaining? Changing attitude towards oneself and life means finding a way to get out of the suffocating cage of fear and judgment, transforming one’s gaze towards the world: daring, returning (or becoming!) Protagonists of one’s own existence.
There is no time limit, because it can happen at any age. If you are reading these words it means that a part of you has felt attracted and is fighting to come out in the open… So, it really is time to start a journey of change.
What is Calimero’s syndrome?
Calimero’s syndrome is characterized by a strong sense of discomfort and distrust. The tendency to complain is turned against oneself: just like the chick we all remember well, one feels oppressed and misunderstood, victims of misfortune.
At a profound level, victimhood is strongly linked to self-devaluation, a process of self-esteem and a negative view of oneself, whose roots lie in what one lived during one’s existence, the education received and the experiences of life.
The chain of complaints that afflicts the victim often turns into a boomerang with which he vampirizes the energy of others, which is why an authentic process of transformation involves the ability to analyze one’s own emotional holes and get involved to learn a new way to look and live reality.
Where the sense of helplessness arises
“It’s an injustice though!” exclaimed the famous chick invented in 1963 for the Carosello.
According to the psychoanalyst Saverio Tomasella, author of the book Calimero’s syndrome (Sperling & Kupfer, 2018), what we can grasp as the first inspiration for change is to start asking ourselves the meaning we give to the term “injustice”.
What does our complaining want to express at a deep level? If Calimero evokes the idea of abandonment, with the bundle always on his shoulders, it is equally true that his incessant muttering becomes continuous and pedantic recrimination: inability to see beyond himself, of his specific case.
“The grass of the neighbor is always greener”, says a popular proverb, because the life of others appears simple, once again more successful than ours. It happens because, seen from a distance, the existence of those who live next to us only appears on the surface: the content of difficulty that belongs to the other is always eluded, underestimated; the bright part is the only one to emerge.
Heal emotional wounds
The child inside each of us, explains Tomasella, has not yet been compensated and consoled due to the disappointments experienced: will he ever be able to be one day? Every time we touch these places of memory, time stops and we realize how much a wound that always remains open can burn, even after many years.
Seeing and living an injustice, being treated without respecting our rights, shakes our pride and makes us feel, painfully, a bitter limit. But in this case there is more to understand because when anger rather than addressing a person is towards life itself, then something inside us crumbles. Rooting one’s thinking in the belief that after all “life is unfair to me” means slipping into the darkness of a dead end. Self-esteem collapses.
The boundary towards what we feel we can or cannot do appears in all its self-destructive charge: an excruciating sense of powerlessness emerges and freedom of action collides with the violence of the NO. “No, it is not possible, not for you”: a no that grows from within and is confirmed by external events.
Playing the victim: the symptoms
Do you find some of these attitudes in your behavior?
- Tendency to make comparisons with life and the results achieved by others: your life is getting worse, right?
- Feeling of not being in control of one’s existence: how many times do you utter phrases like “I can’t help it”?
- Bad luck rages against you, you are always unlucky: you consider yourself this way and you speak with these words when you have to explain yourself to others.
- “Yes, but… for me it’s different”: our situation is always a specific case, isn’t it? The immediate reply, which uses the oppositional “but”, immediately activates a block and often hides the resistances that we deeply nurture.
- Blame the past: staying with your gaze fixed on what it really was is what keeps you anchored to that point instead of moving towards new horizons.
Seeing that others have access to something that is forbidden to us generates frustration and the why is clear. Frustration is a close relative of anger, as well as sadness, two dimensions that express profound discomfort in different ways, which has to do with the difficulty of being able to express oneself knowing that one is understood.
In reality there is a deception behind it. It is not simply a question of the fact that others can enjoy what is forbidden for us: what is decisive is the thought that it is impossible for us and possible for others.
Life distributes to everyone a different load of events to face and in the meantime we self-imprison ourselves with suffocating beliefs that arise from our life experiences: day after day, year after year, thoughts are transformed into the barrier of a wall that is too high.
“They all happen to me”, here is an important key to think about: the others always seem to have a bit of extra luck, we are the losers. Yes, because the life of others seen through the lens of distance is always easier, or so it appears in the distance.
In reality, victimization is a frustrating approach to life, because it is a gaze trained to see only the difficulty. Adversity falls on our shoulders, it is true, and we do not know how to give ourselves an explanation, find meaning or justification. Yet discovering one’s resilience has profoundly to do with the ability to look at things differently, focusing attention on what we are and become over time, rather than on the single event or our comparison with others.
Observe how often, in the speeches you make to yourself and to others, phrases such as “I’m always unlucky”, “It always ends like this”, “Always me” emerge: these beliefs, constantly repeated, create a thought that can trigger a negative spiral . We think we are more unfortunate to explain the success of others and by doing so, without realizing it, we end up feeding a tendency to victimization.
Quitting the “victim vs tyrant” game
Behind the dress of self-pity, a manipulative strategy can secretly hide that leads to living without being able to get out of the victim’s trap. The deep sense of distrust of life can become a habit of thinking: a negative belief that will remain so because you are not willing to really question it.
Victimization, a mechanism that tells of a difficulty in facing reality, can be linked to a difficult story or ways learned in the family. However, when the victim becomes a role that we habitually wear, the risk is alienation: we end up living in the world of beliefs that we ourselves have helped to create and become lightning rods for bad luck. Yes, it seems that bad luck attracts more bad luck
Paying attention on the other means being listened to, understood, loved: in a word, accepted. Here is the drama of Calimero, who together with the backpack brings with him the fear of being rejected, the confused pain of feeling different.
Fear of others’ judgment unmasks how fragile our foundations are: inside, we all feel insecure. Our inner child is trembling continuously. Yet, being able to train one’s resilience means learning to read events through the lesson that they, even in difficulty, have allowed us to learn.
The Carosello reminds us that Calimero is not black … it’s dirty! That’s right, when we look at our life through the lens of victimization, everything turns black. Change means above all this: trying to wear a different pair of glasses, changing our look and the way we interpret things that happen. Stop blaming and start taking responsibility.