Transcript: Heroes & Villains with Dina Cataldo
Hello, my friend.
Are you ready to talk about heroes and villains?
We all perceive certain people in our lives as heroes or villains, as angels or devils.
What I want to share with you today is that this black and white thinking about people isn't helpful when it comes to our emotional health.
We'll give our time, money, and energy to fueling our belief in the hero/villain stories that we have instead of seeing them for who they are: humans just like us.
When you do, you'll release so much energy around canonizing your heroes and hating on your villains. And you're going to have way less drama and spend a lot less time ruminating on the actions of other people when you practice what you'll learn in this episode. At the end I'll wrap it all up with some questions to ask yourself when you notice your actions being ruled by your perceptions of others.
I want to offer you a new perspective about the heroes and villains in your life to help you break free of any misconceptions you have about the power you have in your life. You have more power to change your behaviors than you think, but sometimes we're ruled by our misperceptions.
The first example of heroes and villains that popped in my brain was the Genie from Aladdin and the villain Jafar.
I want you to think of yourself as Aladdin. You're the real hero of this story.
If you remember the Disney version, Robin Williams played the joyful bright blue Genie and Jafar was a morose and darkly shaded character. The artists literally gave Jafar a tinge darker skin and black and red robes to make him appear more villainous. These are all cues we're used to seeing, and it makes the story so much easier to tell because you immediately can tell who the heroes and villains are. Just a subtle way we learn how to tell good people from bad without getting to know them. Don't mind the brainwashing.
The basic plot is this:
The Genie granted Aladdin wishes, but not just a quick “You're wish is granted.” He created show-stopping performances, so Aladdin could get the girl.
Jafar wanted to strip Aladdin of everything he had because Jafar wanted to be the ruler of the universe and get the girl.
When you look at this story, you can see it's very black and white. There's no backstory showing why the Genie and Jafar behaved the way they did. It's all centered around how their behavior impacts Aladdin.
Which is all that's important to us, right? We see how other people's behaviors are impacting our life. But seldom do we take the time to really see why people behave as they do. How they think. What motivates them.
Now let's add in some color to this story.
The Genie had motivations beyond helping Aladdin get the girl because Aladdin seemed like a nice guy. He'd been trapped in a bottle for millenia and only got out occasionally when someone — usually a not-so-nice person — discovered him and got 3 wishes. He had a promise from Aladdin that he'd be freed with his last wish, so he wanted Aladdin nice and happy, so he'd follow through on his promise. He wanted something from Aladdin.
Jafar had motivations beyond hurting Aladdin. No one wants to be ruler of the universe without a painful backstory. Presumably he had a bad childhood and felt like he needed to prove himself. He wanted power to prove something to himself and others. He was second fiddle to the emperor and didn't like being treated like he didn't matter. He believed that once he was supremely powerful that then he'd finally be happy and prove to people he was worthy – not just of having power but of belonging — belonging as a human and in the sphere of powerful people. Power that he'd never had before.
The story changes a bit when you see another perspective, right?
Suddenly the Genie is a bit manipulative and you kind of feel bad for Jafar.
Here's a few examples of the heroes that come up for my clients:
– a partner who sends them work consistently or writes a stellar review
– a spouse who helps them at home
– a client who sends referrals
You might say, “what's the problem? They're supportive of me.”
Here's the problem. Canonizing people in your life can prevent you from playing bigger in your life. Here's what I mean.
– You might do things for the partner that they want you to do at the expense of what you want to do. I've seen this with clients who have a goal, but because they feel a sense of obligation, they pull back on what they want — they make their goal smaller, so their partner gets what they want instead. If you find yourself doing this, then you're probably thinking, “I owe them so much. I can't say no.”
– You might not ask for help from a spouse or a partner because you think the thoughts, “I don't want to ask for more. They already do so much.”
– You might do work you don't really want to do, i.e., do work that's not in the practice area you want to expand because you want your client to be happy and to keep sending referrals. You think, “I can't say no. They might stop sending me referrals.”
If we believe that we can't say no, we'll never say no, and we won't ask for what we want. If we don't ask for what we want, we can't get it.
If we believe that other people are responsible for our success, we'll always be beholden to them. And we won't learn how to take responsibility for making our own successes and what really creates them: how we think.
If we believe we're stuck doing work that we don't really want to do, then we'll never do work that lights us up and live into the version of ourselves that we know we're meant to be.
If you notice any of these behaviors showing up for you, ask yourself what you truly want. Are these behaviors consistent with you – a year from now – having what you want? If you 100% believed in yourself and your ability to make that happen, could you say no? Could you say no to work you didn't want to do? Could you decide your dreams are more important than your fear of saying no? Could you ask for help when you need it even if you feel uncomfortable?
Let me give you a little peek inside your heroes' brains, so you can understand them a little bit better.
– the partner asking you for something you don't want to give, wants things to be easy for him or her. They want what they want, and they think you'll be accommodating. After all, you've never said no before. They're sure you'll be obliging. They might not think anything about the work they refer you or maybe they do. It doesn't really matter.
– The spouse you don't ask for help fears they might not be pulling their weight in the household. They think you don't need help because you seem like you have it together. They wonder if you even need them.
– the client who refers everyone to you really likes to feel needed. They think they're doing a good deed and don't think twice about what you want because they figure it's all the same. After all, you never say no or tell them anything different about who to refer, so you must do everything under the sun.
When you open your brain to this perspective, it allows you more freedom to say no, ask for help, or communicate what you want.
Here's a few examples of the villains that come up for my clients:
– a partner who complains that other people in the firm aren't pulling their weight
– a spouse who seems unsupportive
– a client that needs handholding
– a firm in particular or the legal profession as a whole for being so demanding
Here you might say, “Yeah! These are the worst!”
I want to offer you that these so-called villains have their own motivations that may make them a bit more sympathetic.
– the partner complaining has worked hard their whole life to prove they belong where they are and that they can be successful. They have this one thing they can be proud of about themselves, and they complain to make themselves feel better about their life and decisions. They don't know another way of being.
– the spouse doesn't understand what you want or why you want it. They can't see the vision you have, so they rely on what their thoughts and feelings about things in the world.
– the firm/legal profession is a business. A business requires watching expenses. If a lawyer is fine receiving less money for their work and doesn't ask for a raise, that's not the business's problem. They're assumed happy unless they say something otherwise. A business needs to keep expenses down, so until there's enough people complaining about being unhappy, there's not a need to hire more people. The firm/legal isn't intentionally being mean or demanding. It just has a job to do just like you do and figures the status quo has been working, so no need to change things. How often have you said that to yourself?
I want to offer you that if you looked at these villains as humans with their own perspectives, you'd me more likely to
– let the partner comments slide off your back. There's no drama if there's only one person living out that drama.
– communicate the faith you have in yourself in a loving way instead of defensive way and believe in yourself, so you're not relying on someone else to believe in you.
– complain less about the big bad firm and decide you're either going to be part of the solution, or make a powerful decision to change yourself to build a real life while working there, or leave.
So what do you do with this new perspective? Why is it so powerful?
Because when you see that your heroes and villains are just other humans living out their own stories and dealing with their own mental dramas, you can see you have a choice about how you think and how you behave.
No one is rescuing you from the poorhouse with their referrals.
No one has it out for you and wants to see you fail or be miserable.
Then we're the ones rescuing ourselves and deciding whether we want to fail or be miserable.
It's our decision.
This is a much more powerful place to show up in the world.
We're given these stories as children that we're going to be rescued and some people are just bad.
What if you stopped believing the stories and started seeing reality?
If you love this podcast, and you're ready to get to work uncovering all the stories that are preventing you from conquering overwhelm, going after what you want, and thriving in your life, come work with me.
You can book a call with me at http://dinacataldo.com/strategysession
This is the work, my friend.
We're here to overcome our stories, so we can not only feel better but truly live better.
Have a lovely week, and I will talk to you soon.
Oh, one more thing — If you haven't left a review for Be a Better Lawyer Podcast, could you go to https://dinacataldo.com/apple ? Reviews let people know this podcast can help them. Let me know how this podcast has helped you, and let others know how it can help them change their lives if they're struggling.
Thank you and I'll talk to you next week.