What Are Your Supporting Characters Showing You About Your Hero Self?
Let's talk about Aunt Edna. You love her, of course, but the woman gets on your last nerve. The thing is, she's always there when you go to your mom's house, so avoiding her completely isn't on the table. You think she's a bit of a bully, and she seems to know exactly how to get under your skin. What is UP with that??
Guess what? You have something in common with Luke Skywalker. Seriously.
The main character in the first Star Wars trilogy is surrounded by Supporting Characters, and so are you.
A Supporting Character is somebody who affects the Hero's story in some way. It may be someone with whom the Hero interacts often or merely an acquaintance. But, their presence, brief or long-term, molds the Hero's story directly. The purpose of Supporting Characters is to deepen our understanding of the Hero and often, the Hero's understanding of himself. They reflect how the Hero might evolve, deal with obstacles, or they may demonstrate aspects of what s/he wants.
Consider, Luke Skywalker.
Luke is a restless young man, desperate to BE SOMEBODY, to prove himself away from his desert planet home. As his story unfolds, he meets Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Yoda. Each of these Supporting Characters represents elements of Luke's possible path forward.
+ Princess Leia is charismatic, powerful, and focused on a Great Cause, the Resistance, to triumph over the dominion of the Empire. Her wants and motivations serve the common good.
+ Han Solo is a mercenary. He's motivated solely (at first) by self-interest. He's charismatic, clever, and good at what he does; but, he's fundamentally selfish.
+ Then there's Yoda, the Jedi master. Yoda is the character who represents the fullness of what Luke might become: masterful, powerful, and wise.
Each of these characters informs Luke's growth from impulsive, impatient young man to a wiser, more sober novice Jedi knight. Of course, Luke doesn't identify any of these people as Supporting Characters, but the Author of this story, George Lucas, would. The clincher is that you happen to be both Hero AND Author of your story.
Who might be your Wise Friend/Mentor like Yoda? It might not be who you think. Your Yoda might be that teacher, trainer, boss, barista, postal worker, fellow transit-rider who always seems to bring out the best in you, even if they challenge you often.
About those folks who "push your buttons," is their presence supporting your growth in the long run? Does interacting with them challenge you to resolve poor patterns, accept responsibility, or forgive and let go of "old stories?"
If not, remember you are the Author; consider removing them from your story. Or, "rewrite" them as Background Players. Ha!
Your life is your story; as the Author of it, what you can change about your relationships with your Supporting Characters is how you choose to engage with them in Hero mode.
May the Force be with you. :)