Everyone is their own hero
Recently, after reading an article in the Rice Thresher, I was profoundly reminded of the fact that every single one of us is the hero in our own story. This single narrative drastically affects how we perceive others’ actions and responses to our own. If we say “hi,” and the other person just ignores us, we immediately jump to the conclusion that they did so for some nefarious reason. We hold a grudge against them for this singular event that the other person may not even notice occurred and because we probably aren’t that close to them, the tension is never realized and never cleared up. Maybe we said hello too softly. Maybe they were concentrating thinking about something and just didn’t hear. There are so many reasons that don’t involve them doing so out of malice.
Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by ignorance.
(Ignorance in the meaning of not having all the information)
All of us see ourselves as the hero, so why would we instinctively blame ourselves? The hero doesn’t make mistakes or do wrong is what we think, but we actually see in a lot of literature and film that the hero has some tragic flaw or grows from making a lot of mistakes to being the superhero.
If this is the case, why do we believe we are infallible, especially as actual humans and not some supernatural, fictional being like Superman.
The question is then why?
We remember the hero at their final state of virtue and courage because that is when they make the biggest impression (being a badass beating up all the bad guys) while all the hardships and failures that they had to experience to get there are lost in the background noise.
This comes from our inherent tendency to see the best in people and ourselves. We like success and model ourselves after the heroes we see in popular fiction, and as a result, we treat ourselves as the protagonist who can’t do wrong. However, we love seeing a hero grow and progress from a state of insignificance to making incredible impact. We love a narrative of the underdog developing and coming out on top. There is a clear irony here in what we love seeing in stories and how we perceive our own story to be.
I think the only way to combat this instinct is to raise our self-awareness and capacity for empathy. By staying self-aware and having the ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes, we can avoid so many tensions and conflicts that arise from misinterpretations. And as a result of that, I believe we will feel a lot lighter, not having to deal with so many anxiety-inducing analyses of minor things that build upon one another.
If you liked what I wrote or want to talk about anything related, please feel free to reach out to me!