How to create a superhero for yourself when you’re lost, in trouble or coming out of a dark time.
I’m coming at you for the first time in a while, after diving deep down in the depths of my artist residency in motherhood. I thought – foolishly! – that this would be a three month residency following the birth of my son, and I have come to see that of course, it is a year long creative journey. At least.
As with all creative journeys, the process means sometimes you lose sight of the end and lose hope and forget your own strengths and why you are doing this and that is very much where I have been. Wiping a lot of poopy butts and waking up at 3am and talking to myself in the car.
And then just when you’ve lost all hope, something amazing happens (or it did this time anyway): you emerge from the fog and you remember where you’re going and what you’re good at and what you love and you’re back in alignment. That’s what this week has been for me, starting to lift up my head and look around at the world again, see the green of spring and feel alive, feel some joy. My kids are no longer sick every other day (hopefully!) and we’re having fun, and I’m feeling creative energy again.
So I wanted to share an exercise that I have been coming back to: creating your superhero alter ego. I used it a lot two years ago, it was a great way for me to try out different ways of moving in the world and shift patterns around performing and being in front of people that I’d thought were immovable. Playing with different alter egos helped me see that it’s all moveable.
And then I kind of forgot about it, until I was talking to my son yesterday, who loooooves superheroes and bad guys and Batman and Spiderman. I have been trying to find a way of engaging with him on this because I love connecting with his creative mind but I do not find Batman and Spiderman all that fascinating. So I said, hey let’s make up our own superheroes! And immediately he was like, oh yeah! How about Scorpion Man? Or Birdflash?
We sat down and did some drawing. Here’s Birdflash — he can talk like a bird or like a human, and he moves really fast.
I asked myself, who would be the superhero for where I’m at these days?
Immediately an image came to me, of someone split between two desires, one to light up the sky and move mountains and shout out loud – sun energy – and one to go quiet, to go inward, to go down deep and calm the waters and listen. Moon energy.
Coming up with this superhero – I’m calling her Moonsun – helps me see these desires differently. I’ve been thinking of them as a conflict or a weakness, like I can’t decide which way to go, I’m constantly switching – but what if it was not a weakness but my superpower? What if the ability to switch from extrovert to introvert on a dime was an amazing rare gift?
OH YEAH. IT IS.
And that’s what I love about coming up with a superhero for where you’re at now, especially if you’re in a dark place or feeling down on yourself like I have been, if the trolls have been coming at you fast and furious. You can turn it around and see the very traits you’re struggling with as your unique gifts.
Because any great superhero’s strength is also their burden. What helps them is often the same thing that gets them in trouble. So if you’re feeling like you’re in trouble, you can slow down and take a look at why and see if what’s getting you into trouble could also help you find your way out.
Here are some steps to follow if you want:
- Close your eyes and ask yourself, who is the superhero for who I am today?
- Draw them
- Give them a name
- Write what you see in the drawing
- Get on your feet and move around like your superhero self. Dance! Speak! Sing! Find a karaoke track on youtube and sing it like you’re a superhero!
This last one is such a natural extension if you’re four years old, and harder for those of us who are grown ups. My son just got up and started walking around like Birdflash. So easy he didn’t even think about it! And then he dropped it and did something else. So I encourage you to do this like you’re four. Try it on and then drop it.
That’s all today. Thank you for listening and I look forward to hearing and seeing your superhero self moving around in the world.
Until next time…