We are our own worst enemy. The villain that lurks inside of us is worse than any villain we’re likely to come across. We put ourselves down, hate how we look, unfairly compare ourselves against others, second guess choices, replay past decisions in search of a magically better present or future, and basically hold ourselves to an incredibly high standard that is almost impossible to live up to. Then, when we fail to live up to that standard, we beat ourselves up even further and start the cycle anew.
That’s when the villain within really starts to take over. It pounces on our vulnerabilities and takes advantage of our weaknesses. It chips away at the small cracks in our self-esteem and widens them a bit at a time, until what was once just a tiny fissure develops into a massive fracture than can be so terribly difficult to heal.
The constant pressure we put on ourselves to be the perfect parent, child, significant other, friend, employee, coworker, citizen…it attacks the best version of ourselves while at the same time diminishing our very real accomplishments.
Yes, some days aren’t flush with triumph—but even our less successful days are filled with small achievements worth celebrating.
This is why it’s worth taking a small amount of time every evening to look back on the day and think on those victories won. Did you skip that afternoon cup of coffee and instead save money by refilling your water container? Did you massage your partner’s shoulders and immediately feel their tension slip away? Did you help your daughter understand and complete her homework? Did you manage to calm dad’s nerves? Did you aid in keeping that project moving? Did you put a smile on a friend or co-worker’s face?
All of those are small victories. They’re ways in which you helped win your day, and they can be building blocks for even larger victories down the road. No, none of the above are what anyone would consider heroic actions—but how many truly heroic actions do we perform in a day, a week, a month, or even a life?
The answer for most of us is, not very many. (If we’re lucky, we don’t need to perform very many.)
Maybe if the majority of us performed more obviously heroic actions, our villains wouldn’t have so much power over us. If we were all healthcare workers performing life-saving procedures, firefighters catching kids jumping out the windows of burning buildings, or police officers keeping our streets safe, maybe our villains would have a hard time showing themselves. Maybe then they’d stay hidden.
Maybe, but doubtful. Ask your local doctor, nurse, firefighter, or police officer about their own internal villains, and you’re bound to learn that their villains are as strong or stronger than yours.
Hopefully, over time, this blog will give us tools to defeat our villains while, at the same time, giving us strategies to highlight our best sides. And the first step to conquering our villains is simple: acknowledging that they exist. The sooner we take ownership of our villain complex, the sooner we can begin the fight against it.
What’s more heroic than that?