Are You a Hero or a Villain?

No one can choose how others see them but they can control how they live their lives.

There is a meme I’ve seen floating around the social media channels lately. I think its purpose is to remind everyone that we all make mistakes and we don’t always know we’ve wronged someone. It’s meant to focus our vision outward instead of on ourselves. As much as we try not to be, we all have the capacity to be a villain in someone’s eyes. Will you be a hero or a villain?

What about the times you know you were the villain? What can be learned from it? What good can come from the bad? Are you destined to stay a villain?

I feel like everyone has a time in their life when they know they were someone’s villain. There was a time when they intentionally chose themselves at the cost of another’s happiness. A time when they did something, knowing it was going to hurt someone else. Or they did something at the moment that didn’t seem hurtful, to later realize was destructive. Intentional or not, we all have the ability to be a villain but that doesn’t mean we can’t become a hero.

Is It Fair to Continue to See Yourself as the Villain?

In the past, I know several things I’ve done that would easily put me in people’s villain category — and rightfully so. Most of them came at times I struggled with the understanding of empathy. I don’t use this as an excuse; I still feel the guilt of each act. As I came to understand empathy, these actions from my past reminded me of the person I no longer wanted to be.

It isn’t fair to continue to define yourself by the mistakes of your past but you must learn from them. You will always be the sum of your whole. Your past does define part of you but you have the ability to evolve as you go through life, to become better than you were. Once a villain doesn’t necessarily mean always a villain.

Acknowledgment and Growth

You don’t get to decide you’re not a villain for anyone but yourself. For some, you will never be anything else — and that’s fine. For yourself, acknowledging the fact that what you did was fucked up and intentionally making sure not to make the same mistake, is all you can do. Grow from it as a person.

Deciding to make a change and grow from the mistakes we’ve made is how we prove we’re not villains. It’s how we show ourselves we have the capacity to evolve into something better.

Own Your Mistakes

Part of this process is taking ownership of the fucked up shit, not placing blame on others. Don’t rationalize it. See it for what it is. Look it in the eyes, accept it, try to understand it, and do better. Being intentionally blind to or ignoring the negative parts of ourselves only stunts our growth.

Make Amends

This isn’t always possible. There are a few people in my life I don’t have the ability to make amends with. When you can, don’t let pride or the fear they won’t accept your apology get in your way. At the end of the day, we can’t control how others feel. We can’t force someone to forgive. We can’t expect everyone to look past our mistakes. And we can’t expect to mend some relationships, ever. We can always make sure to try.

We can make sure they know we understand our actions — that what we did was wrong. We can offer a sincere apology. You can prove to yourself that you are better than your past, by intentionally avoiding the same mistakes.

Be Better Than You Were

We are not predestined to be anything. All of our experiences make up who we are, the good and the bad. Be intentional in everything you do. If you were the villain in the past, intentionally work to make sure you’re not one in the future. Life, in general, is tough. It has highs and lows as anything does. Don’t focus on the lows, learn from them. Grow from them, but never forget them. As you continue down your journey, wear a hero’s cape — no matter how tattered and torn. We have all been someone’s villain but we also have the capacity to be heroes for others.

Previously published on Gofindyourhappy.net.

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