How To Recognize Different Types of Change Agents
June 12th, 2015

'The Saboteur / Competitive Rival'

So, you’ve been working hard, achieving goals, and finally, somebody recognizes you publically for your recent success. 
Then, “BLAMO” – you get punched square in the nose [metaphorically speaking]. Chances are that in your case the punch-in-the-nose-experience was in reality more of a sabotaging-your-social-reputation-experience or a setting-you-up-to-fail-experience. 

Regardless of the form that the punch in the nose took, one thing’s for sure; you definitely didn’t see that coming. You were expecting that when you finally got some public recognition for your good work that you’d be applauded by everyone and that life would get easier.  Wrong – not everyone is happy for you - not Malfoy.  Malfoy hates you for your success.  But why?  What did you ever do to Malfoy? Not a damn thing as far as you can tell.

Allow me to introduce yet another of the many types of change agents that you’ll meet on the road to helping yourself and others to succeed at life.  If you’ve watched the Harry Potter movie series then you know who I’m talking about.  In the movies Malfoy is a young man whose main motivation in life is to destroy the credibility and social standing of the lead hero – Harry Potter.  Malfoy also tries to destroy Harrys’ fellow heroes  - his ‘hero support’ - Hermoine Grainger and Ron Weasley.

Why does Malfoy do what Malfoy does? 

Chances are that Malfoy grew up in a family where he was scapegoated by his parents.  In other words, perhaps his mom and dad had some problems with each other – didn’t really like each other for one reason or another but were choosing to cover it up – were choosing to pretend that everything was fine and every once in a while this underlying tension would build-up between them [as a result of suppressing their real feelings of resentment toward one another] but instead of talking about it with one another in a safe respectful manner and instead of doing something to improve situational conditions at home they decided instead to just take their anger out on Malfoy. 

If this had really happened then there’s a pretty good chance that Malfoy might have been treated as if he weren’t ‘good enough’ – as if he were only capable of doing things wrong – of being ‘bad.’  Probably at first Malfoy would have fought back and said something like this to one of his parents; “I’m a good person, I didn’t do anything wrong, and you’re just taking your anger toward mom [or dad] out on me!”  But here’s the thing; by doing that, by publically exposing the real problem, Malfoy just ‘out-ed’ himself to his parents as someone who is unwilling to cover up their problems.  So, chances are that Malfoys’ parents would have retaliated against him by pushing him to the outskirts of the family experiences and made him feel like he wasn’t included – like he wasn’t ‘one-of-them.’

Consequently, Malfoy might have developed an ‘inferiority-complex’ or the idea that no matter what would ever happen in life he would always be ‘not-good-enough’ or ‘excluded from the group.’  Of course, Malfoy doesn’t know that he’s beginning to believe these things about himself and he doesn’t know that he’s interpreting all of his future social experiences through this distorted lense – that he’s looking at the world through dirty glasses. 

It’s no wonder then that every time you succeed (at home, at work, at school, at church) you get attacked socially by the Malfoys of the world – because when you succeed at life you remind Malfoy of his childhood brother or sister who was ‘the favorite’ of the family.  The Malfoys of the world aren’t really seeing you  –  they’re seeing the childhood brother or sister with whom they had a sibling rivalry.  In other words, they see you as someone who didn’t really earn your success – they think you got your success by being ‘the favorite’ of the boss, the coach, the friend, the group, etc. 

You can imagine that to Malfoy it makes sense to tear down Harrys’ social reputation if he thinks that Harry didn’t really do something to earn his applause and acceptance from the group.  Malfoy is envious of Harrys’ applause and acceptance because he didn’t get that when he was growing up – he didn’t get it even though he deserved it [just like everyone deserves to be told that they were born good enough and that they are worthy of acceptance {simply by virtue of being alive}.

So what can you do to help yourself and the Malfoys in your life to succeed at life?  Well, help yourself by learning to recognize when your social reputation is being sabotaged – it’s probably a Malfoy.  Do your best to refrain from buying into one of the many social traps that Malfoy will set for you. You don’t want to buy into acting out or to even argue with a Malfoy.  Malfoys use arguments as a way of setting you up to get in trouble with the group.  Malfoys will re-frame your behavior in whatever way they can to make you look like ‘the-bad-guy.’

Also, try to avoid triggering the Malfoy response in insecure people by remembering that they are very sensitive to whether or not they are as successful as you.  Always try to include them and to share the glory with them whenever possible, but don’t give up on your own goal pursuits because of their problems. 

Finally, try to improve Malfoys’ self-concept by applauding him or her publically when s/he shows signs of excelling in some way.  If the Malfoys of the world can begin to see themselves as ‘good enough’ and as ‘worthy of acceptance’ then they’ll be on the way to becoming heroic in their own lives and in the lives of others.  Most of all, don't be a Malfoy - especially if you consider yourself someone who 'helps' people.  Malfoys idea of helping is not helping because it tears people down just as they get to the 'being well and doing well - at life' part of the journey.

For more info on how to become more heroic in your own life or on how to increase your own ability to create and protect healthy social ecosystems in the places where you live, work, learn, and / or play visit:

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