Ah, "the Hero". When we speak of archetypes, similar indeed to the savior complex.
As a point of summary, we have discussed Martyrs and Victims already. The point in looking at archetypes is looking at the unhealthy version of legitimate roles. Discussing archetypes is not to talk about or take away from those times when people truly are victims, martyrs and heroes. This is about the versions of those situations where we are trying to meet legitimate needs for love and belonging in unhealthy ways. They are attempts coming out of insecurity, dysfunctional habits and truly, desires to please and be loved.
The Victim experiences the world as against him or her and themselves as powerless to create their world.
The Martyr focuses on giving to others at their own expense and builds resentment for not being appreciated for their sacrifice.
The Hero is constantly on a mission to rescue, save, fix, advise, pay for, swoop in and save. This sounds so dramatic but truly happens in smaller ways all the time.
I can't write this without telling my RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) hero story.
As a young lady growing up in Canada I was not alone in having the casual fantasy of being rescued by a handsome, strong Mountie. (You read a few of the right novels ...)
So, many years ago I worked for a couple of years in fraud prevention and had the opportunity to go to my provincial headquarters and meet with a big strong RCMP officer. He gallantly offered to carry my briefcase and I thought to myself: "Heck, this is as good as it's going to get for this fantasy, so, yes, of course!!!" I thoroughly enjoyed the moment. The absolute best part, and what makes this memorable for me is that my "hero" proceeded to drop my hard briefcase minutes later, spewing the contents all over the hallway.
It was classic. What we offer others when we embrace a hero complex is not real. It's not realistic and it's fragile!
Consider the person who is compelled to tell stories all the time that they are featured in as the one who did great things. How about the person who gets stuff done and swoops in when things are falling apart and gets things fixed. All the patterns that go with these archetypes, including the hero have healthy versions and live on a continuum. Again, we can all move into the unhealthy version so easily.
Love this Harry Potter quote, it really gets at the core of the hero complex:
"This isn't a criticism, Harry! But you do... sort of... I mean — don't you think you've got a bit of a — saving people thing?"
— Hermione, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
What does being the hero do for us?
- Obviously, we get kudos for fixing, saving, paying, etc.
- We build bonds and connection, form friendships and get "liked"
- We can feel good about ourselves because of all the nice things we do
- Sometimes we can even work our way to a promotion with this pattern
What does it cost us?
- We live not knowing if people love us for what we do for them or for who we are at our core
- As a pattern we get locked in to this role and it's hard to let others help us or give to us
- When practiced often we become isolated - not because we have no friends but because we don't know who our real friends are or because we have not allowed ourselves those friendships at all
- It puts enormous pressure on us to stay in this role
So, how do we move away from hero?
- Be slower to jump in - other people are capable too and letting others carry their weight is likely a better gift to give them in the long run!
- Practice actually needing help and support and voice specific things to people you trust to flesh out your relationship in to a healthier, balanced, two-way friendship
- Find ways to be more of a team player - ask questions instead of providing solutions
- Start practicing invisible heroism where you do great things but no one knows
Thanks for joining me in this mini-series!
Until Next Week,
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Posted on Thu, July 21, 2016
by Marilyn Orr filed under