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The Villain in Your Life

             Even as a child, Christmas pantomimes with their exaggerated posturing, never appealed to me as a relaxing form of entertainment. I’d nibble on my finger nails at the appearance of the villain, an essential foil to the hero/heroine of the story, wishing the witch, demon or wicked stepmother would literally break a leg and be carted off the stage if only to give my jangling nerves a rest.

            Writing this blog in pantomime season, has made me think about the villains in our own lives. I’d be surprised if they included snow queens or giants but our minds are constantly seeking out a personal villain, a fall guy, on which to pin blame. This might be an individual or a group, a society or a government. The hot potato of self-blame burns the skin from our fingers so we are impelled to toss it into the ownership of “other.”

            Is this done consciously? In the main no. Through projection we seem to edit the truth in order to quell the uncomfortable disturbances in the psyche or sense of self.  When I first studied the ego’s defence mechanisms back in the early eighties, it took me a long time to get my head round the idea of this powerful defence mechanism.

Simply put, it’s seeing our traits reflected in another. As an example, telling someone they are too slow or they never stop moaning, is an unowned aspect of our own personality. In other words, we don’t want to own the negative traits so we pin them onto someone else.


Like Carl Jung, I have a deep interest in the shadow part of the personality. This is the unconscious mind, a repository for unspeakable tendencies and beliefs: prejudice, hatred, a desire to harm as well as positive traits and abilities which are denied or unknown. As this isn’t an essay on Jung or the incorporation of the shadow in therapy, I will point you to a readable article on this subject here. http://bit.ly/2C41XE4

            The villain in our lives makes its appearance through the projection of this shadow, usually the negative aspect, onto “the other.”  This makes it easy to blame and not take personal responsibility as it’s always someone else’s fault.

I must point out that I’m not referring to situations where clearly the villain is to blame; crime, adverse government policy, corrupt businesses and any other situation where we are left vulnerable and powerless to alter the course of events. I do get tired of hearing some professionals talking about choosing your reaction when you can’t choose outcome as if acknowledging a need to punch someone in the face is a sign of being out of control.

I’ve experienced so many situations with clients who need to be angry, express their fear and anxiety and violent thoughts before they can even reach the point of choosing acceptance. Some of us can’t turn around that tank so quickly.

            So back to blame. It does serve a purpose. It protects self –esteem and ego since you don’t have to face your own imperfections and present as someone weak and inadequate. I hold an opposite view. It shows strength and honesty when we put up our hands and say “It was me. I’m sorry.”


As a long time specialist in behaviour (Transactional Analysis graduate) I define behaviour simply as everything we say and everything we do. If I say something offensive to you then I have chosen to do so. With that choice come consequences. You might not speak to me again or you may wish to defend yourself and hit back. Words might tumble out of my mouth unfiltered but I am still responsible for them.

            Only those lacking in emotional maturity will continue to say, “He made me do it.”  “It’s your fault I’m overweight. You stress me out.”  No. No. No. Unless you are being held to ransom with a gun at your head (or similar) then you make the majority of your choices. It’s only when they don’t work out that we need the villain – partner, parent, boss, fate and God. Choices are made within a context which I think influences how much responsibility we take for them. 

            As we go into 2018, maybe it’s time to hold the mirror up to ourselves and be honest as it’s so easy to lie.  Wasn’t me, Sir!  The villain in your life might not be anybody other than….. yourself.



How Spiritual are You?

  I’ve been asked to work on some ideas for a corporation to introduce an element of spirituality into their workforce. Since a vein of this theme runs through the spine of my upcoming novel, “The Future Can’t Wait,” I considered this to be somewhat synchronous.

  When we think about spirituality, the default definition is often linked to something theistic but it is much broader than this. The spiritual journey is a very personal one and not open to debate about any rights and wrongs. I was surprised to find that the Sloane School of Management has been considering this aspect of Human Resource Management since the nineties.  Rather than being about offering prayer groups or Higher Power Lunches or even group chanting every morning, spirituality in the workplace is more about a creating a sense of connectedness and belonging amongst employees which in turn is designed to improve communication, productivity and an improved feeling of emotional wellbeing.

  I can see some HR Managers rolling their eyes and seeing it as another way for some training consultant to make a fat fee on the back of the current trend in mindfulness and the rage for colouring books – I do know of organisations offering a colouring wall to deal with stress. I say sort out your systems first. However this takes me away from my thinking aloud blog this week.

  Despite having gone through periods of church going, dabbling in Islam in a previous life, hanging around Buddhist temples in the hope of enlightenment I have to confess to having no religious belief at all but I do have a feeling of being connected to what Carl Jung called the Collective Unconscious. For more information have a look at this website. http://carl-jung.net/collective_unconscious.html

  Reading a moving poem or a letter, a walk in the woods, rain clattering on the conservatory roof, painting a loose watercolour from my imagination are some of the ways I connect with a higher consciousness if you like. Some people would call it the divine. In my personal discipline, I call it the universal truth.

  Good questions to help stimulate thinking about spirituality include:

  • What is my purpose in life? What gives it meaning?
  • What keeps you positive and hopeful?
  • What is the shadow part of your personality and what is it trying to tell you?
  • How do you see your future?
  • What is your feeling about death?

Some cynic told me that the only reason I am interested in this topic is because I am a baby boomer ( not quite true) and I am at a time of life when thoughts about  mortality are taking over the need to make money. Well, here’s some news. I’ve always been drawn to the spiritual side of life and money making apart from providing for my family single handed has never been a motivator neither has fame. Through my writing I hope to light a pathway for some people who will feel a little bit better or have a greater understanding about an aspect of life than they did before.

  Writing about the tragedy of the ordinary life as I do helps me to connect with the collective unconscious and say, ‘Look, you’re not on your own.’

Whilst I do write about what I know I really write about what I feel and for me that’s what spirituality is all about.


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