A few months ago I was intrigued by one post Jan, from Staying Awake, wrote. It was about the Superhero inside of you. I wanted so much for her to honor me and bring her experiences with her own Superhero You to my own blog. The following is a beautiful and inspiring account of Jan's journey into self- discovery and empowerment.
I’ve been asked by Lana to write a guest post about “The Superhero Within. This was prompted by a post of mine some months ago, showing a journal page I created called “Superhero You”( link http://opportunitywithdanger.blogspot.com/2011/05/this-time-last-year-i-couldnt-have.html. )My Superhero journal page was in turn inspired by a prompt by Theresa Huse at her blog (link ) http://msartisttheresahuse.blogspot.com/.
After I had created my superhero YOU, I reflected on how inspiring and empowering this activity would be for some very disempowered and disconnected young people or for children to do; an exploration of what it is inside them that makes them unique, what is their “superpower”? It would be a great way in to helping them to understand how they can draw strength from this inner superhero in tough times, and how they can use what is inside them to guide their actions out there in the world .
So what is a superhero?
- has magical superpowers – usually abilities additional to those of ordinary humans (eg., flying), or abilities more enhanced than those ordinarily possessed by humans (eg., strength)
- acts to rescue people from danger or to save the world from destruction
- works to identify and develop their abilities or powers
- seems to fight/use violence a lot as the way to solve issues – action, action, action!
- usually has a weakness which is known by their arch-nemesis and can be used to plot their downfall and the triumph of darkness and evil
- often do not take the credit for their feats, wear a disguise(or silly costume) and afterwards return to their quiet ordinary lives.
While thinking about writing this post for Lana, I realised that my interest in Superheroes had never really been that great. In fact when originally I saw the journal prompt, I almost didn’t do it. Something about superheroes just leaves me cold, the often dark colours used in comics, the cartoon format itself, all of this fast moving action, violence and so little reflection, speech bubbles are not my thing either. Yuk! Forgive me if you dear reader are a fan. Despite this horror of superheroes and their costumes, I did in fact throw off those old constraints and allowed myself to play, I created my own inner superhero.
As I child I did not really read or watch TV programmes about Superman, Batman or Spiderman. My reading matter as a small child and a growing young person, was set much more in the real world. Much more down to earth, not really involving magic or special powers, or great acts of heroism.
I read stories about ordinary, and yet extraordinary girls and young women….Heidi, Katy Carr, Jo March, Pollyanna…these were some of my favourites. Then there were also girls like the Mary Lennox from The Secret garden; the three girls from The Ballet Shoes; The Little Princess; The Little Match Girl and Jo from The Chalet School series. I must have wanted to understand, and be close to these girls and young women. I wanted to know how they navigated their life’s journey, rather than some magical landscape. I wanted to know about their lives and what they achieved, rather than the secret lives of heroes, or of superheroes who saved people from life threatening or world threatening situations.
As I got older I became more interested in the real people of history who had worked to change the world…. Ghandi, Martin Luther King, William Wilberforce, Mother Theresa among others. Significant actors who changed the world, but with quiet and non-violent acts of courage and commitment that moved mountains. I wanted to be like them.
Somewhere on my life’s journey, I lost my way. I got myself into a hole where I felt that my actions didn’t matter and that my contribution was not good enough – not enough It is hard for some of us to feel as if our actions matter in the world. We can feel so small and insignificant alongside the great leaders and heroes of history, alongside those who are contributing currently to making changes with actions that are highly visible. Sometimes we miss the smaller actions that ordinary people are demonstrating each and every day. Sometimes we forget that we make a difference just by our presence in the world, we touch the lives of others for good or bad, and we forget that we can make choices, we become so used to being swept along or just drifting along life’s river.
I arrived at that Superhero You prompt earlier this year, after doing quite a bit of soul searching, reading, unlearning, revisiting childhood passions and digging deep to find my strengths. I did some reading about gifts and talents and found the film “Unbreakable” – a film about a reluctant superhero. The hero of the film is both afraid of, and is hiding his gifts. He is not developing them or really using them in the world, due to some shame and some fear. Living a kind of half-life, his work, his relationships with his wife and child, his whole life seems to lack commitment and passion. The story shows how he is led to recognise his gifts and develop them, to put them to use in the world and to invest himself fully in life.
Many people feel overwhelmed by world events, or by the ups and downs of living lives that may feel disconnected. Many people in western society are prescribed anti-depressants or have problems with addiction. It is hard to feel as if we matter in the world and that our actions matter. Easy to numb out and buy in to escape. Easy to lie to ourselves and others. Easy to forget compassion to self or to others and judge and blame instead. Easy to feel like a victim and opt out, failing to recognise our gifts and neglecting them.
By calling on our gifts and our strengths, which are sometimes hidden amongst all of the mess and complexity of modern life, we each have a unique contribution to make to the world. We each have a unique inner power to draw upon. When the superhero within wakes up, he or she begins to know this and to develop their unique power and take action in the world around them. Like the classic superhero everyday superheroes do not feel they are superior or separate to the rest of us, their acts of heroism may not make the news headlines or history but their everyday actions make a difference. They are fully alive and lead a committed life. They bring their piece of the puzzle into the jigsaw that is the world, without their contribution the puzzle is incomplete.
Lately many writers and spiritual leaders are using the idea of the Superhero to help people develop spiritually and emotionally. Since Lana asked me to write something along these lines I searched on google and found that Deepak Chopra has recently written a book called “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes” (link http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Spiritual-Laws-Superheroes-Harnessing/dp/0062059661). I think that to read this might be a useful next step for my Superhero YOU.