Recognizing the Villain Within

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
"Few recognize themselves as the villain in anyone else's story. They're always the main character."
This comment was made yesterday by the Incomparable Anne™ in response to my curiosity regarding whether or not a particularly mean girl who made me miserable as a teen ever realized that she was, in fact, a bitch. Like many of Anne's observations, this one got me to thinking - always a disturbing turn of events.

In my early thirties, when I was working hard to affect some fundamental change in my life, I did some mental housecleaning regarding my own behavior and the kind of person I wanted to be. Part of that work was being brutally honest with myself about what kind of person I had become, where I needed to improve, and where my behavior had negatively affected others.

The result of this self-examination was the realization that although my troubles with various relationships weren't ALWAYS my fault, there were certainly circumstances where I was, in fact, the villain in someone else's story. This realization engendered in me a variety of feelings - regret, shame, sadness, and a sincere desire to do better.

I'd really like to think that I'm not unique in this level of self-examination. If I have a desire to be a better human being (for whatever reason), isn't an honest appraisal of my behavior the place I must start, in order to achieve permanent change? If I delude myself about how I've treated others, how can I achieve any level of authenticity as I work toward becoming the person I want to be? If I fail to achieve some level of honesty in terms of my own behavior, how can I move forward to live a life of integrity? To my mind, achieving permanent, substantive change required this level of self-honesty, and I'm quite sure I would not have been successful without it.

I realize that the human brain tends toward cognitive dissonance. To Anne's point, no one wants to see themselves as a villain, and if we're honest with ourselves about our own behavior, it may lead to some very uncomfortable conclusions. For me, those conclusions set me free, and allowed me to build a new life on a solid foundation.

For others, it may not be worth crushing the delusions that make them happy.

3 comments:

Womanji said...

You know if more people were willing to examine themselves and accept the villain and the hero inside they would be a better person and perhaps we would be a better world too.

Love your honesty

Anne C. said...

Thanks for the post, hon. Deeply thoughtful, as usual. One of the many reasons I think you're wonderful.

nzforme said...

An acquaintance once revealed that she was afraid that while she was concentrating on being beautiful on the outside, she was actually ugly on the inside. Some months later, she treated me in a very "ugly" manner. I didn't call her out on it -- I would have, were it not for the earlier revelation -- but I figured that somewhere deep down inside, she already had a clue.