You’re reading the latest novel and suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re completely blindsided by the way the hero in the story behaves.
What the heck just happened? Why did she do that? Doesn’t she know better?
Well, maybe she does and maybe she doesn’t. It’s hard to say with the limited information you have.
So you keep reading and you come to learn that she does know better; she’s just lost her way. She talks with a close friend who happens to be her mentor and she guides our hero to discover new insights into her limiting beliefs and assumptions regarding her latest challenge.
Sound familiar? It should. It happens all the time, whether it is in a book we are reading, a show or movie we are watching, or even in our own lives.
So let me ask you, “Who are you in the previous scenario? The Hero or the Guide?”
But before you answer, let me tell you that the story actually has two additional characters – the Villain and the Victim.
So now let me ask who are in this scenario? The Hero, the Guide, the Villain, or the Victim?
Most of us want to associate with the Hero, and some of us feel more closely aligned with the Guide. Sometimes we see ourselves as the Villain, and unfortunately, occasionally, we feel like the Victim.
Here’s the thing. On any given day, you could be any one of these characters. Heck, given the right circumstances, you might find yourself in each of these roles at various points in a single day.
You see, for the most part, we think we are on top of our game. We know what to do when we know what to do and we are in familiar, comfortable situations. But sometimes, a stressor pops up in front of us, or worse yet, from inside of us. We get nervous, we doubt our decisions, and we become confused.
Let’s think about this for a bit and see what resonates.
Well, there are many factors which can affect your mindset, your energy, your beliefs, your thoughts, your speech, and ultimately, your actions.
The role you choose could be affected by the amount of sleep you got last night. It could be affected by the food you eat. It could be affected by the amount of (or lack of) exercise you get. It could be affected by the environment you were brought up in and the place you live now.
But, more than anything else, the role you decide to play will be determined by your mental fitness.
What do I mean by this?
We all live with a few other characters who come and go as they please, stopping by to visit us in our minds every so often. These characters are our Saboteurs. They might come in the form of a judge, a controller, an avoider, a pleaser, a hyper-achiever, or some other so-called friend.
The good news is, you do not have to allow them to take up residence in your mind. You have another character, your true essence in fact, that can swiftly take notice and vanquish these vile squatters guiding you to move to positive, productive performance.
Now, while we can’t stop these Saboteurs from stopping by for a visit, we can decide how to treat them upon arrival. If we do nothing, and allow them to go to the fridge, grab a beer and some snacks and let them sit all over the furniture, we are playing the Victim.
When we decide to do nothing, we cannot complain about the results we are left with. We just have to sit there, watching them dirty our sofa and eat up all of our food. Not a pretty sight.
But, hey, maybe these Saboteurs look like they are enjoying themselves and you decide to jump in and join them in their dastardly deeds. You indulge them, you goad them, heck you almost become one of them. You double down on the judgement or crank up the control or boost the effort to avoid the matter at hand. You’ve now decided to play the role of the Villain.
These are the choices we make when we are not feeling our best, not getting enough sleep, not following a healthy diet, not getting the exercise we need, or not engaging enough socially.
Now, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. If we maintain good physical, nutritional, social, and mental fitness, we have a much better chance to choose another character to play.
As the Hero, we quickly jump into action addressing these ne’er-do-wells, and send them packing. No need to wallow around in fear, disappointment, despair, or condemnation. That won’t get us anywhere. The Hero saves us from those destructive thoughts and emotions, vanquishing those Saboteurs and setting us up for success.
When we take on the role of the Guide, we ponder assumptions, beliefs, circumstances, and people from a position of deep wisdom. We are sage, we are clear-headed, we are creative.
As the Guide, we see things through the lens of opportunity and possibility. We help our Hero find his way. And we are available to help others as well.
As stated earlier, we can embody each of these characters at any point on any day in any situation. Who you choose to embody is up to you. And how quickly you change roles determines just how successful you will be at work and in life.
So how will you know when you are wallowing in Victimhood? How will you stop yourself from sabotaging your own self-interest and refuse to play the Villain? And how will you decide to be the Guide and mentor your Hero to his or her greatest potential?
There’s a lot to consider in these scenarios, but next time you feel hijacked by negative thoughts or feelings, pause, take a breath, engage your sage, and consider the real possibilities that lay before you.
Your Mindful Moment:
Minimize the Victim. Vanquish the Villain. Be the Guide. Become the Hero.