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Villain Stories – “It’s All Your Fault”

We create these nasty little tales by turning normal, decent

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Villain Stories – “It’s All Your Fault” We create these nasty little tales by turning normal, decent human beings into villains
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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




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




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.

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