As a result of the lifting of many quarantine restrictions, this self-confidence-boosting, silver-lining-friendly concept first rose to fame last year on TikTok. This quote asks you to consider how you can be the main character in the glistening movie-montage of your life (which TikTok’s original message says: “Start romanticizing”). Keeping your dreams firmly in focus might mean soaking up the positive energy from the bright spots of each day-just like rom-com protagonists who stop to smell flowers or smile at an unknown stranger while walking down the street. A self-assured focus can, however, cross the line toward overt selfishness if an emphasis on main character energy is taken too far. How do you make yourself the protagonist of your story without becoming, well, a jerk?
As a main character in a story, you should be introspective about what you truly want from life. Psychotherapist Meghan Watson, MA, RP says putting yourself first can be empowering, especially if you’ve experienced invalidation, rejection, or feeling like you aren’t good enough or unworthy in the past.
A positive force, however, is main character energy mainly in its ability to contribute to such a state. The concept has a darker side once it delves into the need to build up the main character by having a supportive audience.
You may lose sight of others’ needs if you become so focused on your own path. Watson says that this can be isolating, invalidating, and dismissive to those with whom you’re in relationships or friendships. Acting in the name of a main character can sometimes cloud that understanding, since no one person’s journey through life is more valuable than another’s.
Additionally, living every day as if you’re delivering a speech to an audience of supporting characters in the movie of your life can become disconnecting and dissociative, Watson says, drawing attention to how you’re being seen by others and not your true value and inner wants and needs.
For example, you might consider how to be the main character in your life in terms of being your best advocate without demeaning those around you (without veering into negative territory). Find out how below.
Here are 5 expert tips on how to be yourself without alienating others:
1. Don’t always use the energy of the protagonist (not all the time).
Imagine main character energy as just one tool in your toolbox instead of a constant state of being. “When you feel undervalued or inferior, allow yourself to pick up this energy,” says Watson. To show off your best qualities, she says, it helps to present yourself as the main character when preparing for an interview or going on a date. Generally speaking, feeling validated allows you to communicate from an inner place of strength.
2. Make sure that you are aware of all the simultaneous movies.
Clinical psychologist Michael Karson, PhD, JD, argues that seeing yourself as the main character in your life shouldn’t diminish others’ ability to do the same. “A hero’s greatest validation may come from improving others’ lives while on the journey,” he says.
3. Take into account your supporting characters.
In the same way your main character energy should not inhibit others from adopting similar actions, it should also not devalue your cast and crew, or those who sometimes support you.
It is crucial for our relationships to be able to balance our perspectives with others’, says Watson. So, even when you are the main character, it’s essential not to lose sight of the value and importance of your loved ones’ feedback. Dr. Karson advises the next generation to make friends with people who will mock them and make fun of them.
4. Make it a part of your self-care routine.
If you have ever felt dismissed or invalidated, settling for your personal beliefs can become particularly significant as a healing act, according to Watson. Take action on those beliefs by journaling or writing, or spend a day doing things you enjoy and taking care of yourself as if you were the most important person in your life.
5. Documentation should receive little attention.
Keep in mind: The director is not usually the main character. To that end, capturing your main character energy for social media could detract from the very experience of it and thwart its intended focus on enjoying the present moment. Not to mention, it’s often the social media creations themselves that contribute to the trend’s self-absorbed or narcissistic side, says Watson.
If you’re having a leading character moment in the future, you may want to forget about the cameras entirely, just like a true leading character would.
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