Why Being a Hero Makes You an IDIOT
Men are programmed to conquer things. We come with software already installed from the factory that has us compelled to solve things, right wrongs, and stand and fight. It’s what makes us such great linear thinkers! We see a problem, we focus on the next steps, we take them, and we conquer. Piece of cake.
Unfortunately, in our male-pattern-thinking, we completely miss the perspectives and emotions of those around us, and how our actions impact them. To call us stubborn and bullheaded is such an easy thing to do when we are in our default mode of “get it done.” We don’t see the problem with solving the problem… so what’s the problem?
Today’s episode is about the Hero inside all men and why being a hero makes you an idiot. I’m going to introduce you to your hero, your victim, and your villain so you understand what kind of movie your life really is these days. [Subscribe Here]
A few years before I moved to Texas and met my wife, I was in a bowling league with my girlfriend at the time. Up in the North, there are indoor activities a-a-plenty because winter is a cruel, heartless season. Bowling is a great way to have fun while it’s negative 20 outside for 3 months. Anyway, she and I bowled with her dad and one of his friends on our team. Her dad’s friend had known her since she was a teenager and like to razz her about little things – as parent-type people often do.
It really upset her and she would vent that frustration to me all the time. One day, I addressed it to him and asked that he cut back on some of the commentary because it upsets her and throws her off her game. Guess how well that went…
She murdered me with side-eye.
She was so upset that I said something to him. How dare I embarrass her and take it upon myself to solve her problem! I was martyred for my sin / good-deed. I couldn’t believe it. So, of course, being suddenly put on the fire, I got defensive and said things that weren’t as nice and “gentlemanly” as they should have been.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I thought I would just ride in on my trusty white steed, and battle the ogre as the valiant knight I am, rescuing the damsel in distress and enjoying the celebratory parade in my honor after.
Holy crap, was I wrong. I was an idiot.
This goes back to the almost cliché idea that she just wants someone to listen to her problem and NOT solve it. Ladies, we can only listen to much before it physically pains us not to solve it. Please be advised of how much the same issue is being discussed without any solution. At some point, we will risk our own health to end the problem so we can not only rescue you, but also ourselves for the anguish of unused solutions.
I’m sure you have experienced this in your life as well, at least a time or two… or 10….thousand. Let’s explore the committee in your head and what happens when people and situations push your buttons.
You, my friend, have multiple personalities, but they all fit into only three categories: Villain, Victim, and Hero.
When the going gets tough, the tough guy comes out. The villain is the bad guy. When you’re the villain, you’ll say “what needs to be said” even if it’s hurtful or harsh. You’ll fire people, end relationships, physically fight someone – you’ll actually accept being the bad guy because you easily identify with him.
If you’ve ever broken up with someone (and you have), there was probably a time where you were closed off and tired of the process, so you may have said some unkind things. When told you were an asshole (or worse) for it, you shrugged and accepted with an almost defiant sense of pride. You were being a dick because you had to. The villain isn’t a bad guy for nothing – he does what he has to do to get things done. Sometimes it’s to help you, and sometimes it’s to help others.
When things fall apart and you don’t get what you want, your victim comes out. You’ll feel bad, like a loser, like a failure, like nobody likes you, like you can’t do anything right, like you’re a complete waste, like “how come everything I do turns to crap?” The trick is, you don’t always notice this sensation because it is often tucked behind villain.
Here’s an example that hits close to home for me: someone makes you feel stupid.
I cannot stand feeling stupid. I can handle being silly, being wrong, and being uneducated about something, but if/when someone makes me feel stupid, I want to burn the world down around me. I keep a close eye on my defensiveness and the four horsemen so I don’t let a particular perspective turn me into a raving lunatic, hell-bent on making everyone wrong.
If you’ve ever felt stupid by the comments or perspective of someone else, your victim came out. You actually felt stupid, unworthy, unwanted, and like you didn’t belong there. Then, your villain thought, “oh hell no, not on my watch,” and came to your defense. That’s when you probably lashed out and turned into an asshole, even if it was just for a moment. That’s what the victim does. He flips all the “they made me feel like I suck” switches and gets Villain involved in the mess.
This, my friend, is what gets you laid and gets you in deep trouble. All men want to be the hero on some level or another. We want to save the day, save the damsel, and save the village… all while reaping the rewards and accolades for it. See, the hero is most often only as strong as the certainty of the recognition for his good deeds.
If you knew putting yourself out there and saving the day would get you absolutely no recognition or fanfare, would you do it? If you’re answering honestly, the answer is probably no. Saving a puppy from drowning, yes. Saving the day by secretly bringing a cake to the office for Jennifer’s birthday (everyone forgot), no, probably not.
So when you hear someone you care about wresting with an issue, your hero jumps in, mounts his horse, and comes charging into the conversation and tackles the problem head-on. This works when you’re defending someone’s honor and are prepared to fight an actual foe – some dude at the bar is giving your significant other unwanted attention and has become belligerent, so you step in to slay the ogre. Whether you win or lose that battle, you’re going home a winner.
Where it doesn’t work is when your white knight comes charging in where he isn’t truly invited. This is where being a hero makes you an idiot. Telling your friend’s boss he’s a tool (because your friend has been complaining about this guy for months), will get you in trouble with your friend. Challenging another person and requesting he apologize to your significant other for a discussion you weren’t a part of…. well, that’s a big no.
Recently, a friend of mine posted something on social media about a product she is now selling. Not agreeing with the pitch or the product, I offered caution in the comments and a perspective that was not in alignment with her opinion. Unlike other commenters on the internet, I was eloquent and did not reduce myself to name calling and slander. Seriously, don’t read comments on YouTube… some people are so angry about nothing!
A dialogue began, but it quickly turned into something that wasn’t going to be as open-minded or exploratory as I hoped. So I left it and moved on. I received several messages from her friends and colleagues providing me their take (defense of the product, company, and concept), and telling me I do not know what I’m talking about.
Then her husband sent me a message.
He called me names, acted like I was a child, and attempted to shame me into apologizing to his wife. Unbeknownst to him, she and I had already spoke and agreed to let bygones be bygones. I won’t challenge her posts to her followers going forward. He also used poor grammar and spelling, which I find interesting because it always seems like the angry messages include poor spelling and grammar.
I made sure not to apologize, but also not to reduce myself to name-calling. After several carefully worded messages, we reached and agreement. I knew his hero saw her perspective being challenged and wanted to ride in and battle the evil-doer (me), and I could not fault him for that.
He was acting like a complete idiot.
Because I’ve been there, and have let my hero make me act like one too, I couldn’t fault him for it. I wasn’t mad at him at all. I wasn’t actually mad at any of it. The best course was to let our conversation be complete and leave it at that. If I had sent a message to his wife and asked her to “call off her dogs, and get her husband to stop sending me hateful messages” – something my Villain would say – things would have escalated much further, and he would be in trouble with her.
Look, your hero can do a lot of amazing things, but if you let him come out in a knee-jerk reaction, he’s going to make you look like an idiot. Take a few extra moments, explore what you’re feeling, and RESPOND with a little more patience. The worst thing you can do is charge in as the hero thinking you’ll save the day, and instead, you ruin it for the person you’re trying to save.
Trust me, I’m a professional hero. I’ve burned bridges trying to save people. Hell, I’ve burned entire villages trying to save relationships, ideas, and opinions.
Don’t be that guy. Hero carefully, my friend. Don’t look like an idiot on a white horse.
So the final thought: explore the perspectives and attitudes you showcase in your life. Are you most often the Villain, the Victim, or the Hero? Is that the guy you want to be? If you find that you’re more often the villain, is that who you want to be? If you’re more often the hero that gets martyred for saving the day uninvited, explore what steps you can take to only save the day when invited.
Above all else, recognize that we’re all in this together, and we’re all capable of being the villain, victim, or hero at any given moment. Moreover, we’ve all been an uninvited hero for someone or something, and we’ve been chastised for it… so have a little compassion. That’s a very heroic thing to do in itself!