The Hero

Posted on July 2, 2019


I don’t know about you, but I like being the hero in my own stories.  From my experience, most people seem to.  If you think about it, the stories you get wherein the person telling the story was in the right or made the right choice or responded to a situation in a very mature, productive fashion way outnumber the stories you hear where the person relating the story was the problem in the situation.

There can be a number of overlapping reasons for this.  First, mine are the eyes I look through, so when I tell you a story you are inherently getting my perspective on what happened.  When viewed from my perspective, I was generally on the side of right.  Second, I chose my action based upon what I understood was happening in the situation.  I drew conclusions about the motivations of all the other players involved, and acted accordingly.  It is always possible that I misread someone else’s intentions or motivation, but I don’t have that data.  Third, being in the wrong does create a certain amount of psychological distress.  It is possible that I am the hero in my own story to defend my own psyche from pain.  The more fragile my sense of self, the more painful it is to be in the wrong.  Fourth, I want the person with whom I am talking to think well of me.  I therefore spin the story to place myself in the best possible light and make my actions look like those of any reasonable person.  Fifth, I want to get what I want.  Sixth, I want you on my side.

When couples come for marital therapy, it is situation normal that they each tell it differently when they describe the problem.  Most of the time, this is simply that you each tell it the way you experienced it.  This is my default setting when someone tells me a story.  How you tell it is how you experienced it.

Sometimes, you tell it the way you do because you want me on your side.  This is unnecessary in as much as 1) I am already on your side, 2) in a manner of speaking, I never will be.  I am already on your side in the sense that I want what you want: for the marriage to get healed and be very satisfying for both of you.  I never will be in the sense that you won’t get me to agree with you that your partner is totally the problem.

My mission is not to figure out what actually happened.  I wasn’t there.  The point is to figure out what it was like for each of you, what you do to cope with those feelings, and how you let your partner know that is what is happening for you.

You can still be the hero in this story.  Be the best mate you can be and respond to your partner as constructively as possible.