Identifying your super strengths and vulnerabilities can increase wellbeing and have an impact on the world.
Were you picked on in high school for being a nerd or a geek? Maybe you were referred to as a dork or a dweeb. Do you sometimes think people view you as socially awkward even though you are emotionally intelligent and want to connect and relate? Maybe you’re above average intelligence and in a professional field that is complex, and you find it difficult to have “normal” conversations about your work. It might be hard for you to be vulnerable and, rather than show off your strengths, you beat yourself up for your perceived weaknesses. Do you wonder how to be more open and let people see and know the real you? Whether nerd, geek, dork, dweeb or none of the above, do you want to let go of fear and insecurity and allow your inner superhero to shine? It takes work. I know. I’ll let you in on a secret about me. I am a fandom geek (DC & Marvel) and kept it a secret because I thought it was not cool if I wanted to be taken seriously.
What Superheros (and Brené Brown) Have To Teach Us
Superheroes are the myths of modern day culture. They offer an opportunity for individuals and larger societal groups to experience and understand different perspectives on problems and offer ideas on how to solve those problems. Superheroes are pro-social and healers. However, they are not perfect. They come to their gifts of powers through their vulnerabilities.
We’re often taught that exposing our vulnerabilities causes us to appear weak, less than and imperfect. Well, here’s the thing: Not one of us is perfect. We are human and will make mistakes. And, like the superheroes we enjoy watching in action making a difference in and often saving the world, we are all perfectly imperfect people who have super strengths—as well as weakness—and it’s all okay.
Regardless of how we perceive ourselves or believe others perceive us, most of us in today’s fast-paced, perform-perfectly world in which we feel like we should be “on” 24/7, have difficulty being vulnerable with others. But, it’s often in and through our vulnerabilities that we uncover our strengths, improve our relationships, increase our capacity for compassion and feel more alive and able to take healthy risks.
Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Texas, is well known for her work on vulnerability. In fact, her TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the most viewed TED talks in the world. According to Brown, personally, we associate being seen as vulnerable with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. But, in others, we see it as courageous and daring. Although we are taught to strive for perfectionism, as humans, most of us distrust things that appear too perfect. Instead, we connect with other people (and superheroes) that show up and allow their whole selves (the good, bad and ugly) to be seen. Think about Superman. Do you think he would be as popular and adored if there was no kryptonite? Do you find yourself cheering Superman on when he is weakened by exposure to kryptonite? We don’t boo him like the inner critic we face in our mind. Who cheers you on?
Connecting With Your Inner Superhero
All superheroes have their super strengths and their inevitable weaknesses. And, none of us are any different. Think about these beloved characters for a few moments:
- Spiderman stands for responsibility, yet he lacks faith in himself.
- Green Lantern stands for duty, honor, peace, and justice. His weakness is the color yellow.
- Captain America stands for protection of freedom and liberty. Yet, he is still human and can be killed and suffer harm.
- Hulk stands for self-control by harnessing the power of anger and hurt. His weakness is puppy bombs.
- The Green Arrow and the Wolverine represent that anyone can change and become a better human being.
- The Flash stands for progress with science moving us forward to become better.
- Black Panther’s superpower is that he is at the pinnacle of peak physical condition with enhanced sight, hearing, intelligence and power. His weaknesses, due to his heightened senses, are bright lights and strong smells that can potentially overwhelm him. (PS: check out the movie – it’s amazing).
And, then there are my personal favorites: Batman and Wonder Woman. Batman stands for justice, although after seeing his parents brutally murdered, many people believe him to be highly traumatized and in need of a therapist. Like many of us, he has suffered loss, grief, insecurity and guilt—all feelings that plague him. And, then there is Wonder Woman. The driving force behind her superpower is truth. She shows us that truth and honesty do not have to be brutal. These qualities, instead, can be feminine and strong.
Who are your favorite superheroes? Who in Star Wars, Harry Potter or the Lord of The Rings speaks to your inner superhero? Like Batman, what can you harvest from your pain or suffering? Or, like Wonder Woman, what passion can you gift to the world? Are you willing to allow your vulnerabilities to be witnessed and your superpowers to shine? It’s not easy to be vulnerable. It takes many people years of self-reflection, acceptance and action to allow themselves to show up and be seen.
Let Your Inner Superhero Shine!
If you’re struggling with uncertainty, fear, relationships or within your self, empowerment coaching may be what you need to embrace your vulnerabilities and show up in the world as your most authentic and empowered self. You can learn how to be more open and increase your capacity for acceptance and self-compassion. And, learning and applying acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help you connect with your values and take thoughtful actions that are in alignment with what is most important and meaningful to you.
What is it that you’d like to change in your life? Is there something specific that’s holding you back from being vulnerable in your relationships? How can you ACT today to let your inner superhero shine and be the change you want to see in your life? I’d love to hear who your inner superhero is, about your super strengths or what vulnerabilities you see in yourself or find courageous in others.
Tell us your favorite DC or Marvel movie. Fantasy and Sci-fi count too.