What is your superpower?
I’m taking an unofficial survey. Mine used to be invisibility but I’m rethinking this. I had the pleasure of meeting up in person with my online dream group at the Divine Wisdom Retreat in Phoenix last year and through the amazing meditations and guidance of Denise Linn, together with the work of Colette Baron-Reid and Lisa Williams, I started to think about my love of hiding.
The Invisible Child
If I had to pick an archetype for the child I used to be, it would be the “invisible child”, a variation on the Wounded Child. Caroline Myss describes this archetype as, “the Child that has the idea that nobody saw them and they were ignored when growing up….The light side of this Archetype brings out and embraces the opportunity to create an extraordinary journey towards visibility. There is a yearning to become a visible person, often through creativity and using the imagination.” I’ve been taking this journey for the last 25 years, when I first started my psychotherapy training. When I was young, I was sweet (I have witnesses), shy and reserved; a natural introvert. I learned quickly that being invisible was a great way to watch others and know when it was safe to come out and be seen… or just safe. Fox like, I would wait and watch. Invisibility was also great through my teen years when all I wanted to do was disappear. As I got older, I knew invisibility was also a way to go inside to recharge.
But somewhere along the way, this “superpower” no longer served me and it occurred to me that if I want to put my work out in the world even more than I already do, then I cannot hide. Archetypically, I’m a Teacher and my students will have to find me, right? As I reevaluated my superpower, I realized that the truth is, our superpowers can be used for good or for evil. They can keep us safe and in control, or they can become chains that bind us and keep us from flying. Did someone clip your wings as you were you warned not to fly too high? (Or is flying your superpower that leaves you ungrounded?) With invisibility, and in general as an aging woman, my superpower ceases to be super and it’s now just a label. No one illustrates this better then Grace and Frankie, in the third episode of Season 1:
A Super Exercise
- Think about all the superheroes you know and pick a superpower. Is it mind-reading, x-ray vision, flight? Something else, entirely different? Pick one and don’t think too hard.
- Explore your choice of superpowers and Google it to see if there is a superhero or archetype to go with it- just to give you some ideas about how it works in your life. There is a lot of information here: http://www.archetypes.com. For instance, let’s say you feel connected with Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth. You might explore honesty or the archetype of the storyteller. Even if you can’t find any information about what your superpower symbolizes, you can still use your imagination! Ask yourself, “If you knew how this superpower worked in your life, what would it be?” If you love to fly, check out all the flying superheroes, like Superman, Superwoman or read the Greek myth of Icarus.
- Make a 2-column list of all the good you can do with this power on the left, and all the ways this power may stunt your growth, on the right. You can label your columns “Good” and “Evil” just for fun!
- Once you have a good idea of the perks that come with your superpower, look at the evil column and see what price you pay for these powers.
The Perks and the Price
For me, I’ve learned that while invisibility is sometimes useful, eventually I became invisible to myself! All I could see were my faults and my short-comings. The negative side of invisibility is hiding. At the retreat, Denise Linn suggested we do something different when we get home to help make our insights and changes concrete. So I bought a mirror. I’ve been meaning to buy one to place over my grandmother’s vanity but now I was really ready to see myself. Moreover, while I bought this mirror to truly see myself, more importantly, I was ready to see in myself what loving family, friends and students already see in me. I was ready to see my gifts and my soul in the mirror. I may still use my “Invisibility Cloak” from time to time, but for the most part, it will be hanging in the closet.