Are You the Hero of Your Life? If someone was to write the story of your life would a reader think of you as the hero or a supporting character? Since you live your life from your own point of view it might be easy to assume that you would play the hero, but for many people this is not the case. In any adventure book the hero is the one who set’s the course of the story, they are the one who makes things happen, who’s in charge, and who ultimately saves the day. Supporting characters just follow along; or are the ones to whom everything happens, good or bad; always reacting to circumstances rather than setting the course. Unfortunately far too many people are supporting characters in their own life story, but if you want to live the life you desire you must become the hero.
As children we all play a supporting role, we do not have the ability to do all that we need to take care of ourselves, so must rely on others to take care of us just to survive. At birth we simply cannot play the role of hero in our own lives, it is up to our parents to feed and bathe us; and it is to them that we turn to solve our problems. But that leaves us in a vulnerable position, having to allow others to decide our future. This is why as we grow and mature we are supposed to acquire the skills needed to take responsibility for ourselves and our own children.
Not everyone rises up the challenge, and they remain in a dependant state: you see this in people who are always blaming others for how their life turns out; blaming fast-food restaurants’ existence for their obesity. This is called an “external locus of control”, a belief that forces outside of you are more determinant of the course of your life than you are. The odd thing is that if you believe this to be true it will be, you will live in a reactive state waiting for others to tell you what to do, always hurrying to respond to the latest problem, rather than setting your own course. The problem with this is that if you believe other people, luck, or fate are the deciding factor in your success you will not do the hard work needed to succeed, since under this view it doesn’t make any difference. This means you would always be waiting for someone else to find the magic bullet cure to your problems. This is why so many people turn to medications or fad-diets to lose weight, it puts the onus on someone else to play the hero and get them out of their predicament. But this doesn’t happen very often: you know whose problems everyone else is concerned with? That’s right, their own! Most other people are too busy waiting for or being their own hero to be yours.
So if you want to take control of your life you must become your own hero. You must adopt an “internal locus of control”; you have to believe that the course of your life is of your own choosing. Instead of blaming others for the state of your life, you take ownership. You know that you control your own actions, and that it is up to you to take the actions that will take your life where you want it to go. In fact you know that you own actions are all you truly control and so you also accept that there are things outside of your control, and that you must find ways to work around them. You know that you cannot wait for fast-food to be banned before you can lose weight, rather you can choose right now not to go into them. You leverage what you can control in a way that that which you cannot control cannot affect you.
While this viewpoint is, often somewhat derisively, called “rugged individualism” it does not mean you have to go it alone in your life, the hero does not have to stand alone. In books the hero often has a group who help them on their way to save the day, and the same can be true for your life story. While only you can be the hero in your life, you can invite others to be supporting characters in your hero’s journey, or you can even be supporting characters in other people’s stories. For example I can be a supporting character in your health journey, helping to guide you on your quest: like Gandalf or Dumbledore do in their respective stories. You can play supporting roles in the lives of others by doing whatever it is that you do to help them.
Now it is much easier said than done to become your own hero. It can feel good to play a supporting role in your own life: you get the comfort of blaming others for all your misfortunes; you don’t have to make the hard decisions. These benefits keep us drawn to the supporting role, which makes it even harder to kill the old thought patterns dominating your mind. Luckily there are a lot of resources out there to help you take ownership of your own life; most of the self-help industry is based on teaching you the skills to be your own hero. But the skills are useless unless you the right mindset of ownership and accountability to employ them. I will be exploring this a lot more in future blogs, but in the mean time a great book to get started on getting the right mindset to become the hero of your own life is “QBQ! The Question Behind the Question” by John G. Miller.
Remember one last thing: most great heroes in stories don’t start out as one. It is the journey that makes them one, the trials and tribulations they overcome give them the power to be their own hero. And it is the same for you. You don’t have to be your own hero right away, it takes time, but by slowly taking on the role you will be able to become the hero you need in your life.