That might seem like a strange question – ‘who is the villain?’. I’ll tell you why I am asking it.
Yesterday, I was talking to a client about a situation that had occurred. Someone had let her down very badly. They had made promises regarding a piece of work. My client had been very excited about the project. She had committed time to numerous meetings (without charge), had put time and resources against planning the project, and had spent money on various associated activities.
Without any warning last Friday, the friend she was going to be working with pulled the plug – with no explanation and without even telling her personally, instead using a third party to convey the bad news.
My client was left feeling shocked, betrayed, angry and sad. And the (ex) friend – we’ll call him Edward – was the villain. He morphed from being a friend who made a bad move, to being the villain. Someone with no feelings, no remorse, no consideration for her and her feelings. He became someone who cared not a jot for their friendship and who didn’t care that he had hurt her.
After that, SHE became the villain. What I mean by that is she was saying stuff to herself like – she shouldn’t have been so stupid. How did she not see what he was really like? Why did she trust him? She must be an idiot!.
Of course, all these feelings are completely natural, and some of them may (MAY I said) even be true. But are they helpful?
When something unexpected happens and it is a ‘negative’ it is natural to have emotions about that and it is perfectly OK to experience them. I am more concerned with how you move on from there. Because here’s the thing. People get stuck.
When something perceived as negative happens to people – if they don’t process it, reframe it and move into their future, then it can harm them, damage them and hold them back. You see, whatever did happen there, it is now in the past. The event itself cannot be changed and therefore people replay it over and over again in their heads looking for the, ‘if only’s’ and the, ‘I should have’s’.
Often they will hold the person they believe is responsible for this event in their minds forever as ‘the villain’ wishing them every bad thing. My client said, “I hope his bloody venture crashes and burns”. And I empathise with the reason for that anger, I really do. What you need to understand is that anger and other negative emotions directed towards a person, actually don’t harm them…..they harm YOU.
And for that, if no other, reason, you need to change that perception (and associated feelings) of the ‘villain of your piece’.
As I said, you can’t go back and change an event. Or can you? Well actually, you can.
You see, life is all about perception. Pretty much everything that happens creates an emotion, based on your perception of whether that is a positive or negative, which is rooted in our deeply held beliefs. Let’s look at our biggest fear – public speaking. (Yes, people fear that more than death apparently).
Most people fear public speaking. That’s because they have a fear of failure and a fear of being judged. Why do you fear being judged? Perhaps because you have been judged in the past or because YOU judge (yourself or others), or both.
Now – you can look at a speech you have to give as a fearful event, as a reason to be nervous, as an opportunity to fail and be judged. OR, you can look at it as an opportunity to share, to reach more people with our message, to gain a new skill, or to win hearts and minds. It is up to you.
And that’s the same with past events.
You can go back to that time and you can stand in the other person’s shoes and try to understand what might have been going through their minds. You can choose to feel sorry for them instead of hating them. You can choose to see it as a positive – you have “dodged a bullet”. In the case of my client, we discussed that if Edward was the kind of person to handle things that way, then it was indeed a GOOD thing that he had ended the arrangement as she certainly didn’t want to be any further in than she already was.
You can also see it as a learning opportunity – maybe my client has learned something important that will help her in a future and even more important transaction. And most of all – you can choose to see it for what it is – something that happened in the past, that has no hold on you in the present.
It’s all about your interpretation. There are very few real villains in life. Everyone has a reason for the way they behave, everyone is trying to do their best for themselves and their families. Some people don’t have the skills or the values system that matches with yours. That doesn’t make them a villain, it just makes them someone who shouldn’t be in your world.
If you have a ‘villain’ in your past that you can’t let go of – it might help you to read our book ‘Find Your Why’ – which focuses on the one powerful thing you CAN affect in your life – past, present and future – and that would be YOU.
And if you haven’t seen my blog last week on How To Spot A Victim And Why You Should Avoid Them – click now to read it.