Imagine if someone asked you to do something you didn’t want to do and you just said, “no.” What would it feel like to set or preserve a healthy boundary? While advocating for yourself isn’t necessarily new, Gen Xers and Gen Zers are taking this lifestyle to heart and viewing themselves as the protagonists in their own lives. Rather than just letting life happen, some people put themselves first and navigate how they want their stories to unfold. This self-affirming, me-first attitude involves prioritizing self-care and owning up to your full potential.
This feeling, or even lifestyle if you will, is called having “main character energy.” The name comes from the main character you follow in a book or a movie — that one person you’re rooting for throughout the entire story. The idea is that you should look at yourself as the main character in your life and root for yourself. This energy is about knowing your value, respecting your journey and allowing good things to happen to you. It’s about feeling like you deserve what you want, whether that’s a romantic partner, a promotion at work or a better social life. It’s your life; you get to decide.
Is main character energy the same as narcissistic behavior?
Thankfully, the two traits are not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder is when people carry an unreasonably high sense of self-importance; it’s a real mental health condition. People with this disorder need and seek too much attention because they want people to admire them. This is a problem affecting about 1% of the population, and it’s not something that can be turned on or off. A person usually has this disorder throughout their entire life.
Main character energy is different. People can generate their own main character energy by shifting their priorities to meet their own needs better and by establishing new boundaries. Rather than trying to fit into someone else’s viewpoint of what you should or shouldn’t do, they focus on what their own needs and wants are.
How to cultivate main character energy
If you’ve noticed you’ve been more of a supporting character than a main character in your life, it might mean your needs aren’t being met. But there are a few ways you can start cultivating that energy to become the protagonist in your own story.
Start small. This is about indulging in everything you want to eat, buy or visit. It can be as small as taking a nap when you’re tired, or booking an appointment for yourself when it’s best for you during the workweek.
Keep in mind this is your story. Of course, most of us want people to like us, but we need to be the main character in our own story as opposed to being the main character in everyone else’s.
Set boundaries. If you notice you feel uncomfortable around a friend because of their behavior, it might be time to have a conversation with them. If they don’t acknowledge or see how they’ve hurt you, consider it a red flag. You want a positive cast of supporting characters around you at all times.
Remember it’s not all about you. A healthy dose of empathy is a huge part of main character energy.
You don’t need to embody main character energy at every moment of every day. Instead, think of it as a tool you can pick up to fix something that’s not working in your life, or when you feel undervalued. It can help you focus on what’s most important: you!
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Check out Simplemost for additional stories.