What is your inner superpower? Are you harnessing its amazing potential?
I believe we all have an inner superpower. Something we naturally excel at. This isn’t something simple or pragmatic, like being able to pick the perfect sized Tupperware for leftovers (although that is a major asset several of my friends possess).
Your inner superpower is something you have had since childhood. It’s a strength that came to you without working for it. It’s probably something people have commented on for years and years.
You stay really calm in the face of conflict and stress.
You can deeply connect and relate to other people, particularly people in distress.
You can see beauty, even when the world or the moment appears ugly to others.
If you have ever watched a Marvel movie, you will also know that superpowers come with strings attached. Many superpowers can be harnessed for good, but exist on the brink of evil. They can serve the superheroes in incredible ways, but can also be their downfall.
Your superpower is like that too. It is one of your biggest gifts, but it’s also a huge weakness if it is not treated with respect and care.
My superpower is to have focused determination even in the face of uncertainty and chaos.
How do you know what your superpower is?
People have probably referred to your superpower since childhood. Even strangers have probably commented on it. People may even have been a little worried about.
As a young child, I was intensely focused. In grade 2, my teacher asked my mother for a meeting to tell her that I had this ability to focus and tune out the world that he had never seen before. Earlier that week, we were in class working on a math assignment. The teacher left for a moment and came back to a rowdy class, with kids standing on chairs throwing paper airplanes. I was the only one sitting, working through the math problems.
“I have never, in my 15 years of teaching, seen someone so focused”, he told her.
The way my mom tells the story, he called the meeting with my mother, both with admiration and concern. Yes it was incredible that I could tune out the world and finish these math questions, but was that really normal? Was there something possibly wrong?
Do you have experiences like this – something people both admired and worried about in you? If you can’t think of stories from childhood that make your superpower stand out to you, it’s probably something people mention now. After the post about how to transform your jealousy, people who know me personally commented on how they are jealous of my “drive”, “dedication”, “focus”, “determination”. They were all tapping into this one superpower I have.
What strengths do people notice in you? Remember that you may not be harnessing your superpower in the most effective way, so it might not be something that seems obvious.
Is your superpower hindering your work-life balance or your happiness?
Once you know you inner superpower, you might realize it’s not something you have always seen as a strength. In fact, it might even be something you or other people have seen as a weakness.
I know someone who stays unbelievably calm amidst chaos, but people often describe her as emotionally detached.
Her superpower does not always serve her. People see it as a weakness. It’s a way in which she is very different than most people. When she uses this superpower in the right way, it is an incredible tool, but it can also leave her vulnerable.
All superpowers are like this. You might even feel like your superpower is more of a problem than a strength. Sometimes that’s true.
How my focused determination gets in the way of gratitude, happiness, and work-life balance
My superpower helps me work with an intense focus for long periods of time (hours within days and for months or years on one thing). It allowed me to switch majors 4 times in college and still finish in 4 years. It allowed me to be the first person to complete my PhD in my cohort. Because of this determination, I quit my job and started my own consulting company less than 2 months after I discovered I was paid 47% less than my colleague.
But my superpower is also very present at my weakest moments.
When I had 3 miscarriages and a year of infertility, my focused determination was my downfall – I did not let myself take time to grieve, to process, to heal. Instead I became so intensely focused on getting and staying pregnant that I blocked out everything else in the world. Sometimes I think that I lost an entire year with my first child then. I look back at photos and can barely remember being there, because my mind was so intensely focused on what I wanted (another baby) that I didn’t see what was in front of me.
This is a common theme in my life. I think so much about the next step, what I can do next, how I can do it more productively, more efficiently, more quickly, that I don’t even see what’s in front of me right now. My mind is racing ahead and I miss the incredible moments in life.
It also means it’s very hard to “turn off” my brain. For years I struggled to sleep and stay asleep. My mind would just race around in circles.
It means I don’t often appreciate how far I’ve come. Instead I think intensely about my goals and how to push myself be better and challenge myself more.
It’s easy for people to look from the outside and see how your superpower might be an advantage, but that’s only part of the story.
How is your superpower hindering your happiness?
If you haven’t yet figured out your superpower, looking at your weaknesses might shed some light. If you haven’t been harnessing your superpower and treating it with care, it’s probably seen as more of a weakness than a strength.
Once you know your superpower, you can really reflect on how your superpower doesn’t serve you. In what ways does it make you less happy? How does it make you feel weak, stupid, powerless?
Think of times in your life you have been unhappy, stressed, and struggling. How did this superpower play a role?
Beth, my partner in Balancing Bravely has the superpower of connection. In minutes she can connect and relate to other people, so that they open up and share their biggest challenges and struggles with her.
That’s an incredible superpower.
But guess what? It also meant that after 15 years as a mental health professional (a great role for someone with her superpower), she burnt out – she burnt out very badly.
Is that surprising? Absolutely not.
Beth can devote this energy to building a connection. On some level those relationships and conversations give her strength. But they also take something from her. She spends her life giving to others (at work, at home, with friends). If she’s not careful, she gives all of her energy away and has absolutely nothing left for herself.
What is your superpower and how can you harness it to create a happier, more balanced life?
You can ask yourself these key questions to unleash the potential of your superpower.
1. What is your superpower?
2. What makes your superpower unique and incredible?
3. What can you do to better use your superpower?
4. What limitations and challenges does your superpower bring with it?
5. What are things you can do to overcome those limitations?
Figuring out your superpower can be challenging. Help other women out by adding a comment about your superpower in the comments so they can see lots of examples of incredible, unique superpowers.