Think of the most iconic villains… Who comes to mind? The Joker. Al Capone. Darth Vader. Hannibal Lector. Cruella de Vil. The Wicked Witch of the West…You.
You. Yep. And me. We are all villains at times.
What I mean is that we all occasionally get wrapped up in a villain mindset.
Villain in this context doesn’t refer to heinous behavior or vile intentions.
The Villain (also known as the persecutor) is an aspect of the Drama Triangle. The drama triangle is a social model created by Stephen Karpman. This is a model of dysfunctional social interactions and the roles humans tend to play.
When you embody the Villain persona you “should on yourself and others.” You tell yourself there is a specific, right way to be, look, and act that you and others should or should not be doing.
Criticizing, blaming, and judging all stem from a Villain mindset. Being convinced you are right and everyone else is wrong also stems from a Villain mindset.
You are allowed to be a human who is from time to time going to fall into villain mode. You are allowed to stop judging yourselves and others. And you are allowed to recognize that when others are judging you, they are simply loveable humans who are in drama. You are allowed to shift out of blame and into a powerful way of leading in your own life.
When you recognize that you’re in Villain mode, you can start to question the stories you have been telling yourself about what should and shouldn’t be. Through this, you can become empowered to resolve issues and conflicts with yourself and others permanently.
What Does Villain Mode Look Like?- Different Villain Personas
The critic likes to point out how you’re doing it wrong. This is the backseat driver. This is the one with road rage saying, “Ah, people just don’t get it. They don’t know how to drive.” The critic can be an inner voice speaking towards you or how you interact with others.
This persona is the one who’s saying it just won’t work. This is the wet blanket in your tech team meetings, who’s always pointing out how there’s flawed logic here. Something’s not going to work. “Oh, that’ll never work. We can never implement that.” What the cynic needs to sustain this attitude is overly idealistic people. The cynic wants to perceive that everyone has their head in the clouds and is overly idealistic, so they can be “right.”
The debater claims that their perspective is best and all they need to get triggered into debating mode is anybody who does not agree with them.
The Control Freak
The control freak is interested in making sure that everybody stays in line with their plans. It can manifest as tightly orchestrated organizational routines around how we have to fill out X, Y, Z boxes. When people just go along with your plan, you get to continue being in control freak mode. So this is how when you see a coworker being a control freak and you want them to calm down, you might be inclined to just go along with it and not name it and not upset them in any way. The controlling cycle continues.
This persona believes it’s their way or the highway. They can be aggressive about being right and assert their will even if presented with information that contradicts their belief.
This persona believes there’s only one true way to do anything and they get kicked into high gear when they see anybody who’s a rebel or a nonbeliever. For example, you may recognize a person in your life who preaches that there’s really only one true way to eat right. There’s only one true healthy diet out there. And that diet may change over time as new diet trends come and go. They might believe there’s only one good kind of music, like only rap music is good or only classical music is good. The Puritan has a steadfast belief that they have the right answer.
The Drill Sergeant
This persona loves to find people who are irresponsible and let ’em have it. They tell themselves and others to shape up or ship out. This persona tells you that you need to get your act together. You are so irresponsible. They might even be dedicated to perceiving people as irresponsible because they’re in that mindset.
Now, why is it so important to learn to recognize when you are in villain mode? It’s because villains make drama contagious. The villain needs there to be a victim in their room. They need to see somebody as a victim who’s not powerful or not capable. Teams, families, and relationships become infected with drama and suffer when your villainy goes unnoticed and unaddressed.
How to Stop Being a Villain- Stop Criticizing and Judging
Acknowledge where you are. Accept it. Love yourself regardless.
Then start looking at the stories you’re believing and perpetuating. Think about the thoughts you have that are judging, shaming, blaming, and your convictions that you are right.
Now question them. Ask yourself if you would be willing to see how the opposite of your story is at least as true.
The purpose of looking at how the opposite of your story is at least as true as your current story is to help you to recognize it’s just a story.
It’s not truth. It’s not right. It’s not a fact, it’s your interpretation.
It’s one story. Your story has some validity to it, but so do a lot of other stories.
This understanding helps to loosen the grip of the story on you so the story is no longer controlling you.
Another thing it helps you do is to recognize you are the creator of the story. Who’s the one who wrote the story? You did.
Either way, you are the director of your own perception around this. You can choose alternate perspectives, ones to serve you better, ones that are more empowering.
It’s not easy to let go of the idea of a right way and a wrong way to do something. But I encourage you to find as many opportunities as you can to let go and watch how that benefits your life and relationships.
What To Do When You See Someone Else is Villain-ing
Let’s say you are not in villain mode. You’re feeling very present. You are feeling quite above the line, creative, open to learning, and somebody enters your space who is blaming, shaming, judging and seems to be in villain mode.
What can you do about it?
The first thing is to recognize that it’s their drama, not your drama.
Second, they are not in your control. You can’t control them. You can’t control their drama. You only control yourself and your choices.
Notice when you start thinking you’re right and they’re wrong and shouldn’t be in villain mode. You can easily get sucked into drama when you’re in the presence of another person who is in drama. Next thing you know you’re villaining together.
Leaders, you can choose your words, actions and where you show up skillfully when you are aware of when you’re in drama and not.
Drama is contagious. That’s where your self-awareness and understanding of these frameworks really benefit you.
All right, so you’re with someone who is in drama. The most important thing here is just not to get triggered yourself. If they seem at all open to it and you feel you can stay present with them, you may be able to begin grounding them in facts.
Start helping them to distinguish between the facts and the stories.
Remember: you can’t control them. You can control yourself, your responses, and your impact on the situation.
Why Learning About the Villain is Important
By recognizing when you’re in villain mode, you can recognize you’re in drama. And you know drama means you’re wrapped up in your stories and beliefs.
Knowing you’re in the drama triangle allows you to start questioning your stories- your shoulds, shouldn’ts, have-to’s- and become empowered to resolve issues internally and dive into the Villain mindset on the drama triangle.
As part of the drama triangle series, this episode will teach you about the powerful Villain aspect. The Villain guilts, shames, judges, and blames. Learning this framework will make you more self-aware about limiting mindsets that lead to drama and dysfunction. By the end of the episode, you will gain more skills to move away from drama and towards empowerment. Question the stories that hold you back and free yourself from negative cycles.
This article is related to my podcast episode on the Villain mindset – Listen here.