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As a child, I spent a lot of time imagining myself a superhero.
Someone that couldn’t be hurt by others.
I was so used to being hurt by others. From the humiliating treatment of peers and teachers alike, it seemed no one understood me. I felt so alone in the world. I just needed to experience myself as powerful, if only for a moment.
I also wanted to be someone who could stick up for themselves, and others, so they wouldn’t get hurt.
My imagination helped me survive and persevere through the most difficult times.
Because I was able to imagine something better, a life where I didn’t suffer so much.
Here I am now, having never been bit by a radioactive spider, never figuring out how to fly or run as fast as a flash.
In a perfect world we wouldn’t suffer. In this world, suffering is an ocean we need to learn to surf.
Rescuing isn’t the answer, it reinforces the other person’s feelings of powerlessness.
As you’re surfing the flow of life, waves will on occasion, crash over you.
Your power is in getting back up, not in never having been knocked down.
Instead of swooping in to save the day, using your physical power.
You can remind others of their own power.
Stand by their side with patience, compassion and encouragement.
Impress upon them their ability to make decisions and take action to better their lives.
Show them how to save themselves, from the suffering within their power to manage.
The suffering created between their own ears.
With your steadfast presence, and ability to maintain your emotional integrity, while helping them learn to surf.
You show them the power you’re encouraging them to discover for themselves.
You’re being a subtle superhero. No grand entrance, no cheering crowd. It’s not about the audience, it’s about the principle. The principle of showing up.
You show up and use your power to think, and act more deliberately, less reactively.
You show people the power of showing up for others, and for yourself.
You don’t need to be able to hold a garbage truck over your head either.
Holding space for another soul is enough.
Your way of being offers safety, and protection. With the knowledge YOU are someone least likely to contribute suffering to their lives. They know they can trust you, be vulnerable and do the work.
What’s more powerful than being able to do that for someone?
That’s being a subtle superhero.