I’ve started to read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People for work. I haven’t gotten very far into it yet, but what I’ve read so far makes sense. Which, to be honest, consists of the foreword, introduction and part of the first chapter. But I think reading this will not only help me with my working relationships, but also with my writing.
The beginning of the first chapter speaks to the idea that no one thinks they are “the bad guy” in their own lives. Villains in fiction are so much more interesting when their villainous plots have a rationale that makes sense to them. Well, except maybe the Joker, whose entire point is that there is no rationale. We are all the authors of our lives’ narratives, and rarely do any of us consider ourselves in the role of the villain. We are the protagonist.
Even if we have to edit and revise to make ourselves feel that way.
Of course, as a person with a long history of overthinking things, I do have a tendency to see myself as, if not the bad guy, then the one at fault. And I’m not alone in that. Some people blame themselves for everything negative in their own lives, even when that isn’t the case. The editing and revision in those cases is not to whitewash away actions that do not conform to our perceived sense of self, but rather a coating of soot to convince us that we are the authors of our own miseries.
And, in a way, we are.
What’s better? To see yourself as a hero, ignoring the actions and flaws that don’t fit that narrative, or to see yourself as a villain, ignoring the actions and virtues that don’t fit that narrative?
No one is objective when it comes to self perception. There is no mirror that can reflect back the impact of your actions. Self interpretation is inherently subjective, which is why the folks who argue on the internet claiming to be rational often come off just as emotional as those they claim are irrational.
So, I suppose, once a person understands this on a deep level, that knowledge can be used to win friends and influence people?