How to Handle the Four Roles You Play in Life

Why Knowing These Will Help Clarify How to Operate Every Day

Neel Raman
7 min readJan 8, 2021


It’s surprising to know there are four roles you play in life, which affect your decisions and how you behave daily.

If you ask most people what the roles they play are, their responses usually are their work title, parent, grandparent, spouse, son, daughter or sibling.

These are what people believe are the common roles in life. While those roles are valid, there are four more you need to know. You play these four roles every day.

Why is it Important to Know the Four Roles You Play in Life?

These roles affect your life. They can lead to a successful life, and they also lead to an unsuccessful one.

If you don’t know these roles, the consequences include:

  • You will experience unneeded pain and suffering.
  • Others will not respect you as much.
  • You will miss opportunities.
  • You won’t create the outcomes you want.
  • You won’t like the person you are becoming.

If you know these four roles you play in life, you will deal with challenges better and know what role you should play if you are not creating what you want.

roles you play in life

What Are the Four Roles You Play in Life?

These roles are adapted from ancient mythology and are a part of the Hero’s Journey. They have been used in stories for thousands of years, which is why it resonates with everyone.

The four roles you play in life are:

  • Victim
  • Villain
  • Hero
  • Guide

While there are many roles in a story, these are usually the four major roles. On any day, you can play some, and on some days, you can play all these roles.

Below is a summary of each role, using the structure of stories as the foundation for their description.

The Victim Role

Victim is usually a person who needs rescuing. You do not want to play the victim. This is because a victim has given their power away to someone or something outside themselves.

It’s important to distinguish a victim in this case does not refer to someone who has experienced abuse or has had their rights violated.

A victim in this case is someone who does not use their ability to choose. If something is not working out the way they want, instead of focusing on what they want, they will blame, complain or justify their results.

A victim does not take personal responsibility for changing their reality. There is a payoff when a person plays a victim because it gives them a reason why they have not created the outcomes they want.

The long-term cost is you will lose self-respect and the respect of others. You will not own your personal power. You will not like the person you are because you know you can be or do so much better.

The Villain Role

A villain is driven by the need to win or to exert power over others. A villain usually has unresolved pain or trauma, and rather than deal with what they have gone through, they seek revenge through force.

They want to get back at others for what was done to them. This can sometimes show up in passive-aggressive behaviour, which can affect their relationships.

Most times, a villain will not accept what they are doing is wrong. They will believe they are justified in their actions and are doing what is required.

The cost of paying the villain is you can end up hurting someone, that can cost you your freedom. You will also push away opportunities and not live the life you want.

The Hero Role

Everyone wants to be a hero in their story. From an early age, everyone looks up to those they consider heroes and want to emulate them.

The role of the hero is to accept who they are and live their true essence or their greatness. A hero knows what they want in life and what their mission is. They have clear objectives that are aligned to who they are and purse them as best as they can.

A hero knows they will face challenges and they will question themselves. However, they do not allow their challenges to stop them from pursuing worthwhile or the difference they want to make.

They can only evolve to becoming a guide after they have played the hero and experienced trials and tribulations. They will gain experience and wisdom, which they can pass onto others.

The Guide Role

The goal of your story in life is to become a guide. In any story, the role of the guide is to help the hero win. You can only play the guide after you have played the hero.

True fulfilment in life comes from being of service to others. When you play the guide, the success you help others achieve will mean more to you.

Guides change lives, and they also change the world.

To become a guide, you need to know yourself at a deep level and hone the gifts and abilities you have, so you can make other people’s lives easier.

If you want to live a fulfilled life, you need to play the guide.

5 Things You Can Do to Handle the Four Roles You Play in Life

Here are five things you can do to better handle the four roles you play in life, which will make it easier to operate every day.

  1. Develop a higher level of self-awareness. Pay attention to what you are thinking and what you are giving attention to. You can develop self-awareness through study and practicing what you learn. That will allow you to notice when you are playing a victim or villain and shift to playing a hero or guide.
  2. Have an accountability partner. Having someone who can keep you on track and call you out if you get off-course is an advantage. Therefore, having coaches or mentors is valuable.
  3. Raise your personal standards. You will always default to what you expect of yourself. If you hold yourself to a high standard, you will reduce the likelihood of playing the victim or villain.
  4. Make reflection a regular practice. If you reflect on what you are doing and how you are progressing, that will help identify what you need to improve. Everyone gets off track, therefore giving time to yourself will allow you to make the changes you need to.
  5. Associate with people who will cause you to grow. The people you spend time with will influence how you think of yourself. Spend time with people who will challenge you and inspire you to dream big and aim higher in life.

Final Thoughts

The roles you play in life shape your personality and how you relate to others. If you stop playing the victim or villain, you will transform the quality of your life and achieve what’s important.

When you accept you are a hero in your story, you will live a wonderful life and eventually transition to playing the guide, so others can live the life they want.

Action Step: Schedule time for reflection daily, so you can review the roles you have played. With greater awareness and insight, you will make better choices and feel good about who you are becoming.

Question: What are other ways to handle the four roles you play in life?

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Neel Raman

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