A nearly universal belief most people seem to share is that we all like to think that we are the “good guy” in the story of our lives. We like to think that we are doing our best in life to be a positive influence in the world. No one likes to think that they are a villain; all our actions – even the questionable, harmful ones – are justifiable by our intent. Even Hitler thought that his massacre of the Jewish people and other horrible deeds were simply a means to an end to provide an environment where his own people could flourish.
But there comes a point in our lives where we are faced by a situation that challenges this belief. More often than not, it is when someone close to us, such as a friend or partner who we trust in to know us well, criticises us. Not superficial things such as critiquing your fashion sense or correcting your grammar, but digging deep and shining a bright spotlight on a flaw in your person, pointing out how much you have hurt them because of what you said or how you acted.
Such an event typically shocks us to the core. Because of the invisible social contract, we rarely point out people’s character flaws out of politeness and to avoid hurting them. This means we do not always know our own deepest flaws. However, sometimes enough is enough and people will explode in a fit of rage to let you know that you have hurt them through your behaviour. You have not been the good guy. You have been a villain.
Our response to this type of situation defines who we really are. An appropriate response is to listen to this criticism, have a period of introspection to understand your flaw and make an effort to try and correct this and improve yourself. This is a display of maturity. But if you become defensive, reject all criticism and continue to act in a way that hurts those around you, then how could you call yourself a hero?
Remember that life is not a story revolving only around you. You are simply one of many characters, like other people, in the grand, unifying story we call life. Whether you develop your character to be a mature hero willing to accept and improve on their flaws, or an immature villain deluded that they are always good, is up to you.