“We love our superheroes because they refuse to give up on us. We can analyze them out of existence, kill them, ban them, mock them, and still they return, patiently reminding us of who we are and what we wish we could be” ~ Grant Morrison
Imagine this: An innocent bystander is sitting alone when suddenly an evil villain sweeps in, grabs the poor victim, leaps to the top of a building to begin unfolding his devious plans as onlookers quiver in fear and gasp in horror.
In comes the resident superhero, making it just in time to save the bystander, foil the villain’s plans, give him a good thumping, serve justice and restore order. The day is saved. The hero is victorious. The abducted victim is returned to safety.
Who Hides Inside of You?
If you were paying attention, you would have noticed 4 distinct players in our little drama. Did you identify all four? More importantly, did you identify with any of the four? Each one has a unique set of characteristics. See which one most reflects who you are right now at your core.
Selfishness is what most clearly motivates the villain. Everything is interpreted from the self-centered perspective of “Me!” and “Mine!” His mantra demands, “I want it so give it to me, or I’ll take it!”
Villains justify bad behavior by the anger or hurt they feel at some real or perceived wrong they’ve suffered at the hands society, life or a particular group or person.
The victim is the helpless “damsel in distress” waiting to be saved from his or her own life. Victims wait for others to make them happy. They wait for others to fix their problems. They wait for others to take the initiative. They wait for superheroes to rescue them.
This is because they see themselves as pawns on someone else’s chess board, stuck in the self-perpetuating cycle of the victim-mentality, unable anymore to decide their own fate. They feel powerless, like feathers floating in the wind, blown about by the arbitrary breeze of circumstance.
This group of people lives in fear of the unknown. They hesitate to take action. They prefer to look on from safe distances. Safety is very important to them. It’s the concrete slab beneath their feat. They don’t want to get involved so their most typical position is to mind their own business.
They are Peeping Toms peering through the windows of their own lives, observers more than actors. And so they stay on the safe side of the street, too timid or self-concerned to step out into the world to leave an impact, make a difference and truly live.
Superheroes, on the other hand, stand for something bigger than themselves. They stand for Truth and Justice, Freedom and Honor, Integrity, Decency and for high moral principle. They are courageous defenders of the weak and innocent.
Superheroes are honest in word and motive. There are clear demarcations of right and wrong etched into the granite of their character.
Their courage is not always the result of some superhuman fearlessness we can’t possibly hope to have, but because they are willing to do the very thing they fear because it’s the right thing to do.
And so they stand up to the villain even when outmatched.
They are resourceful and innovative. They tackle challenges, but never give up when they fail the first or second or twenty-second time.
Their heroism is born of their conviction that they are needed in the fight or simply that the fight is worth having. They don’t fear death because they believe there are things more important than the preservation of their own lives.
Becoming a Superhero
There’s good news for all us non-hero types out there. The Green Lantern puts on a ring for his powers. Spiderman was bit by a radioactive spider. The Hulk was hit by gamma radiation.
In other words, most superheroes were not born superheroes; they became superheroes. (<– Tweet this!)
We can acquire our own superhero qualities too, and we can do it without spider bites, alien rings or gamma radiation treatments.
So we come back to the original question: Which actor in our opening scene do you most often identify with? Which one seems to most regularly reflect your character?
Perhaps to some extent we are each character at different times in our lives and under different circumstances. But the one that most often defines us is telling nonetheless. And it certainly gives us a starting place from which to launch our own mission of self-improvement and superhero development.
But maybe who we are right now pales in importance to another question: Who do you want to be?
My guess is that you wish to be the superhero, a person of strength and conviction, of perseverance and commitment, one of character and decency, who makes a difference in life by making a difference in the lives of others.
The Superhero Inside
I’m convinced that each of us has a superhero waiting to be let loose no matter where we are or who we identify with at this particular moment in our lives.
I believe you are a superhero, even if the hero part hasn’t been fully identified or coaxed from its inner lair.
True, Thor was born strong. Superman did nothing of himself to develop his strength and powers. But Spiderman had to become strong. And while he was a passive participant in acquiring his powers, we most certainly don’t have to be.
There is a superhero inside each of us. It’s our job to discover how to release the powers already there, dormant perhaps, but waiting to be discovered, developed and unleashed.
How to Set Your Inner Superhero Free
To make a point very clear, let’s start with a few questions and some no-brainer answers.
Q: How do you become happy?
A: You acquire the traits and characteristics associated with happiness.
Q: How do you become fit and healthy?
A: You put into practice the traits and characteristics of fitness and health.
Q: How do you become successful?
A: You do those things that promote success.
No-Brainerism 101: So how do you become a superhero? You do those things superheroes do. You develop those traits and characteristics superheroes have. You put into practice the qualities that are associated with superhero-ness.
Once you’ve done this, guess what! Congratulations! You’re a bona fide, real-life, modern-day superhero, ready to exercise vast amounts of personal power to fly to new heights and do amazing things with your life!
As I see it (and I have to confess I haven’t been a comic book reader since about the 5th grade), there are at least six essential characteristics of the typical superhero:
1. Superheroes have Super Powers
Whether they have the power of flight or invisibility, super-human speed or strength, lasers from the eyes, spikes from knuckles, webs from wrists or just have really cool gadgets on a utility belt, superheroes do what seems impossible to the rest of us.
Awaken your inner Superhero by unleashing your super powers: Of course we can’t shoot lasers from our eyes, but we can climb amazing heights of growth and happiness and success. We can rise above the petty and trivial, the superficial and insignificant.
We can become invisible to fear and hate. We can see through walls of self-doubt and dishonesty. We can fly above gossip and rumor. We can break through barriers of fear and insecurity. We can run faster than procrastination and fight our way through the difficulties of life.
So, what’s your superpower? What powers do you plan on developing?
2. Superheroes are Brave
Superheroes exercise courage as they fight evil wherever it lurks—in the dark shadows of back streets and alleyways of downtown cities or out in the daylight of the metropolis.
Awaken your inner Superhero by exercising courage: There are people who are filled with fear. They’re afraid of change, of intimacy or
parenthood or commitment. Others fear standing up for themselves or for others. Some
fear standing for truth or living their values publicly.
We have inner villains lurking in the dark shadows of our own hearts and minds,
keeping us scared and off the paths that can lead to amazing opportunities.
To live a fearless life of superherodom, all we have to do is step out of our comfort
zones, shine a bright light into those dark places, and do what’s right even though we’re
nervous about taking that step.
After a while, as you challenge the validity of your fears with the direct assault of daily
small-stepped action, you’ll come to notice the thing you were always scared of is not all
that scary anymore.
3. Superheroes have Integrity
Superman can’t be turned from good. Batman refuses to harm innocents even if it means losing the villain. Superheroes are deeply committed to a clearly defined set of values.
They are advocates of moral principles that govern them, ideals they won’t compromise and standards they won’t violate. They have too much self-respect to compromise on those things that matter most even when rules and regulations imposed by lesser people don’t always support them.
But if you pay attention, you’ll notice they are not usually preachy about their virtues. They eloquently let their actions speak for themselves.
Awaken your inner Superhero by living with integrity: We too can refuse advantage if it means compromising our integrity to those governing principles. We can stand up for what’s right even when no one else stands with us and even when it would be so much easier to give in.
We can recognize that integrity to timeless principles is more rewarding than the prize we’re tempted to compromise integrity to obtain.
4. Superheroes have a Secret Identity
Batman has Bruce Wayne. Superman has Clark Kent. Spiderman has Peter Parker. The Hulk has Bruce Banner.
Awaken your inner Superhero by connecting with your true identity: We all have an identity most people don’t even know about. We have within us a giant, a divine being of love and decency and compassion. We have the spark of God and of godliness. There is no power greater than this.
As has been said many times before, we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. But most people can only see the physical. They can’t see the potential that shines just below skin-level.
And so, like Clark Kent’s glasses, what stands in plain view is not recognized because greatness is not suspected from ordinary people’s lives.
But that’s the thing. None of us are ordinary. We are all extraordinary. Some of us just haven’t discovered that fact yet. In other words, just as Clark Kent has a superman inside and Peter Parker has a Spiderman within, so you and I have a superhero waiting to be released and developed into something more than we’ve allowed so far as well.
4. Superheroes save Lives
Super heroes fly straight into danger to save the innocent. The whole point of being a superhero is the justice they mete out and the lives they save from the selfish disregard of villains.
Awaken your inner Superhero by serving the common good: We can reach out to those in need and, with superhero ability, serve and teach and guide and lift and bless their lives.
We can also reach down into our own lives and lift ourselves out of depression and free ourselves from anxiety and self-defeatism and self-abuse and fly into the light of truth, untarnished by the hands of abuse and neglect, accusation and obfuscation.
5. Superheroes have an Evil Nemesis or Arch-Rival
Every Superman has his Lex Luther. Every do-gooder has his arch nemesis. Spiderman has Doc Ock and Venom, Batman has the Joker and the Riddler, The X-Men have the Brotherhood of Mutants and the Justice League has the Legion of Doom.
Awaken your inner Superhero by refusing to give in to your archrivals: And so you too, superhero extraordinaire that you are, have the arch-rivals of fear and procrastination, of laziness and indifference, of ignorance and self-defeat to wrestle to the ground, overcome and destroy into the grave of history.
We have those inner inclinations of selfishness, greed, envy, pride and other obstacles to happiness to battle as well. Some heroes will have doubts and naysayers, story-tellers and underminers.
So rise to the occasion, become the superhero to the people who are blessed enough to be part of your life and let the obstacles in human form do as they please. You are, after all, a superhero!
6. Superheroes offer Hope
Villains are sometimes scary. They’re big and powerful and often have superhuman abilities that make stopping them seem impossible … if not for the local superhero.
Awaken your inner Superhero by being a source of hope: Life can also be big and bad and scary. Our challenges can seem larger than life, stronger than mere mortal flesh and blood, able to withstand conventional weapons, persistent, enduring, angry.
That’s where we can shine the brightest, offering hope, standing as beacons to the lost and self-defeated, letting the light of our optimism and decency and faith and commitment to high values and enthusiasm for life shine bright.
Where to Start …
Most of us are mixed bags of superhero, onlooker, victim and villain. So where do you start to unleash your inner superhero?
Start where it’s most needed.
- Are you a superhero or a passive bystander to your marriage or romantic relationship?
- Are you a superhero or a villain to your own kids or to your parents?
- Are you a superhero or a victim at work or school?
- Are you a superhero or something less than that to your community or friends?
- Are you a superhero to your own life or are you watching it pass by, or waiting for someone else to come fix it, or sabotaging its success?
Let your answers to these questions direct you to your most vital area of needed release. Then let your inner superhero begin to emerge. Throw off the false identity of impatience, selfishness, anger, violence, dishonesty and fear. And step into your true identity, into your superheroness!
Self-Doubt and the Superhero
Some superheroes wrestle with their superhuman identities. Batman, Spiderman and Wolverine seem most to have struggled to come to terms with their inner superheroes.
You may too. Perhaps you don’t see yourself as superhero material. Perhaps you’ve had the spirit of the hero beaten out of you figuratively or literally. Maybe you feel weak and lonely and in utter despair.
Most superheroes have doubted themselves. Most have struggled to become the hero everyone else saw in them. But they were able to stand once again, lift their heads and fly to the rescue. And in so doing, they often rescued themselves.
Now it’s your turn!
Are you trapped under the rubble of a life you don’t want? Are you weakening with the kryptonite of indecision or apathy, character weakness or fear?
Free yourself! Be your own superhero. No longer give in to defeat, to anger or hatred or the threat of fear.
Instead, soar like the superhero you are!
I would also love to read your thoughts in the comments below!
Photo by aka Kath