When we read our favorite books, watch our favorite movies, see our favorite TV shows, we absolutely fall in love with the stories of our heroes.
As the story progresses, we see that their trials and tribulations all served them in some way. Their challenges helped them rise to the occasion, even strengthened them, and we see that the story happened for them — not to them. However, we tend to not see our own life story in the same fashion.
Do you see yourself as the sidekick in someone else’s story?
“When we read our beloved books or watch our favorite characters in movies, we are moved by the characters’ hurdles and challenges, and we see our favorite characters as brave and heroic– even when things don’t always work in their favor,” says Christine Scott-Hudson, a licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio in Santa Barbara, CA.
When you think about your own life, does it seem like you are the main character– the hero– of a story about you? Or do you feel like a supporting character in a story about your friend, family, or partner?
While there is a lot to love about the best sidekick characters — they provide support, perspective, and humor — we all deserve to go on our own hero’s journey.
The Hero’s Journey
“Most people are conditioned to use their story and their past to hold themselves back,” says Tristan Gutner, a transformation coach.
We look back and see all the mistakes we made, opportunities squandered, and pain experienced and use that data to determine what’s possible for our present and future.
Of the “sidekick” mindset, Gutner says: “Their idea of what’s possible now is determined by their failures in the past.”
This is a nasty self-fulfilling prophecy for many people. “It requires them to be the sidekick in the story because they feel like a victim to their past. Powerless, at the whim of uncontrollable circumstances,” says Gutner.
The sidekick feels like they’re just along for the ride, but it’s a ride they don’t particularly enjoy.
Stop being the sidekick by changing the meaning you give to your past
“Instead of seeing mistakes, choose to see amazing lessons learned. Instead of seeing bad decisions, see a long winding road that led them to this very moment, perfectly equipped to create and serve at the highest level,” says Gutner.
Become the hero by choosing to see the past as having happened for you, rather than to you
“We stop identifying with a sense of victimhood and start to see ourselves as active agents capable of creating the life we want because of what we’ve been through,” says Gutner.
Being the star of your own life’s story requires a proactive approach, as opposed to a reactive approach. “This means you must take the initiative, causing things to happen versus waiting for them to happen,” says Damon Nailer, a consultant, speaker, author, and educator.
Become the navigator of your own path and the plotter of your own course
“When you take this approach, you position yourself to have endless potential and unlimited possibilities. There is no limit to who or what you can become when you take your destiny into your own hands. Through experience, I can attest to the fact that this is one of the greatest decisions you can make regarding your life because at some point, believe it or not, you must become selfish and go for yours,” says Nailer.
If you don’t, your destiny may be deferred or possibly even aborted.
Why, when we think about our own life challenges, do we somehow fail to see ourselves as strong, valiant, and brave? “We don’t see the forest for the trees,” says Scott-Hudson. “We don’t have the same perspective when we examine our own challenges and hurdles.”
Instead, we spend our lives wishing our problems away, wishing to be rescued, rather than seeing our bravery for each challenge for what it actually is– heroic!
“Don’t lose the narrative in your own story!” says Scott-Hudson. You have overcome many challenges. You’ve beaten the odds!
Try this art therapy technique: Write out your life story as a timeline. Quickly, you’ll begin to see the chapters unfold.
“As you carefully look at your own story arc, chapter by chapter, you will begin to see how your most difficult chapters actually brought you to where you needed to be. Your most challenging chapters taught you what you needed to know in order to fight the next dragon! Looming at your own life as a story, with yourself as the hero, will teach you that life is happening for your greatest good, your battles helped you learn what you needed to know, and you’ve been a superhero all along!” says Scott-Hudson.
What does it take to write your own narrative?
It takes lots of independence, some degree of initiative, a little selfishness, a vision, an action plan, and persistence. “Believe me, it is all worth it because there is no greater freedom and flexibility you can experience outside of penning your own life’s masterpiece,” says Nailer.
Everyone deserves to be the hero of their own story, and the first step to being a hero is acting like one.
Some real-life heroes to inspire you: