February, 13th, 2015
If you’ve ever watched the Harry Potter movie series then you’ve seen a great example of someone who is stuck in ‘The Minion’ role. Peter Pettigrew is a guy who allows his will to be directed by an external source – Voldemort. Left to his own devices, Peter Pettigrew doesn’t seek to harm anyone but because of his inability or unwillingness to set, and enforce, psychosocial boundaries with Voldemort, he [Peter Pettigrew] ends up being used for ill purposes.
Voldemort exploits Peter Pettigrew for his resources. In real life, people who are stuck in ‘The Minion’ role display a ‘minion-like’ life management style – they manage their daily life circumstances in a way that seeks to avoid the threat of punishment. Sadly, there's only one kind of life management style that finds this appealing and it's the one I refer to as 'the Villain.' Villains see themselves as 'King-Babies' who are in need of a Servant-Caretaker.' and so they love that The Minion lacks a strong sense of self and will allow them to get away with bad behavior.
Minions allow this to go on because they have enmeshed boundaries. In other words, there isn't a clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. I've met people who were so into this minion role that when I asked them how they were doing they told me that so-n-so (their villain) was doing great. If you challenge a minion about their own behavior they will defend their enmeshed boundaries as 'care-taking.' Often, when I try to help someone who is stuck in the minion role to realize that they have the power to get out of the 'servant-caretaker' business they tell me with a resentful tone, "oh so you want me to be a dick." Other times they might say, "you don't like that I don't want to be a dick like you." Obviously, someone has been exposed to abuse and oppression for a long long time if they think that self-preservation is the same thing as 'being a dick.'
You see, Voldemort is able to control Peter Pettigrews’ will through intimidation. Voldemort intimidates Peter Pettigrew into taking a submissive posture with him. Voldemort convinces Peter Pettigrew that he is worthless and ought to give up his free will. Peter Pettigrew feels worthless and wants only to avoid punishment [which makes him feel even more worthless]. Then, Voldemort rewards Peter Pettigrews’ submissiveness and in this way locks him into a parasite-host relationship - like a tick on a dogs’ back Voldemort sucks the life out of Peter Pettigrew.
Peter Pettigrew has a faulty belief that Voldemort will like him better if he gives up his will and resources, but sadly, like other people who are stuck in ‘The Villain’ life management style, Voldemort sees Peter only as an object to be controlled and exploited for selfish gain. Voldemort reveals this perception of Peter when Peter says something like, ‘I did what you wanted’ and Voldemort replies ‘you’ve done well Pettigrew, but you only did it out of fear.’ Guess what? Voldemort is right; Peter Pettigrew did only give up his will out of fear.
So, how do you help somebody like Peter Pettigrew to break out of ‘The Minon’ role in relationships with others? I’ve been trying to figure that out for the better part of fifteen years. If you can figure it out let me know. As much as I’ve been able to figure out, it seems as if you need to help the person to develop a strong sense of self and self-worth. In other words, set up opportunities for them to challenge themselves and to succeed because self-esteem can be improved by personal achievement. Then, if they can also learn that personal autonomy is a basic [universal] human psychological need perhaps they’ll have a better understanding of why they ought to fight to protect it. Finally, if they can learn about what boundaries are and how to set and maintain them in a way that is both socially-appropriate and strategically-effective they’d be in a much better position to navigate through their daily life circumstances without becoming the prey of those who are looking for someone that fears confrontation.
To contact Shawn Furey send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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