Villain Stories – “It’s All Your Fault”
We create these nasty little tales by turning normal, decent
human beings into villains. We impute bad motive, and then we
tell everyone about the evils of the other party as if somehow
we’re doing the world a huge favor.
For example, we describe a boss who is zealous about quality
liS a control freak. When our spouse is upset that we didn’t keep
a comm i tment, we see him or her as inflexible and stubborn.
In Vict im Stories we eX�lggcrate our own innocence. In Vil lain
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Stories we overemphasize the other person’s guilt. We automatical
ly assume the worst possible motives while ignoring any possible
good or neutral intentions a person may have. Labeling is a common
device in Villain Stories. For example, “I can’t believe that bonehead
gave me bad materials again.” By employing the handy label, we are
now dealing not with a complex human being, but with a bonehead.
Not only do Villain Stories help us blame others for bad
results, but they also set us up to then do whatever we want to
the “villains.” After all, we can feel okay insulting or abusing a
bonehead-whereas we might have to be more careful with a
living, breathing person. Then when we fail to get the results we
really want, we stay stuck in our ineffective behavior because,
after all, look who we’re dealing with!
Watch for the double standard. When you pay attention to
Victim and Villain Stories and catch them for what they are
unfair characterizations-you begin to see the terrible double
standard we use when our emotions are out of control. When we
make mistakes, we tell a Victim Story by claiming our intentions
were innocent and pure. “Sure 1 was late getting home and didn’t
call you, but I couldn’t let the team down! ” On the other hand,
when others do things that hurt us, we tell Villain Stories in
which we invent terrible motives for others based on how their
actions affected us. “You are so thoughtless! You could have
called me and told me you were going to be late.”
Helpless Stories-“There’s Nothing Else I Can Do”
Finally come Helpless Stories. In these fabrications we make our
selves out to be powerless to do anything. We convince ourselves
that there are no healthy alternatives for dealing with our predica
ment, which justifies the action we’re about to take. A Helpless
Story might suggest, “If 1 didn’t yell at my son, he wouldn’t listen.”
Or on the flip side, “If I told my husband this, he would just be
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defensive.” While Villian and Victim Stories look back to explain
why we’re in the situation we’re in, Helpless Stories look forward
to explain why we can’t do anything to change our situation.
It’s particularly easy to act helpless when we tum others’
behavior into fixed and unchangeable traits. For example, when
we decide our boss is a “control freak” (Villain Story), we are
less inclined to give him feedback because, after all, control
freaks like him don’t accept feedback (Helpless Story). Nothing
we can do will change that fact.
As you can see, Helpless Stories often stem from Villain Stories
and typically offer us nothing more than Sucker’s Choices.