First, I must admit that I love a good hero story. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, all of the Marvel super hero spin-offs give me great enjoyment. There’s something terribly satisfying about seeing the ordinary transformed into the extraordinary; about seeing good triumph over evil, and people (well, heroes/super-heroes) overcome what appear to be insurmountable obstacles. At the end of these films, I always feel like Judd Nelson at the end of The Breakfast Club, fist punched toward the sky in triumph. It’s done! We won! (Never mind the billions of dollars of damage to, usually, NYC.)
But I digress.
The conversation I had was about the negative element that can come from our desire to be heroes in our own life. Low self-worth. Ill health. Burn-out. Anxiety. Depression.
When did the tides change and have us believing that we HAVE to be extraordinary. That we must ALWAYS be switched on, performing at the top of our game. That we SHOULD be doing more/bigger/better things. That we MUST soldier on, regardless of the cost to our bodies. (Seriously, folks: if you have the flu, keep the germs at home and get some sleep!).
I work with countless clients who almost never let up on themselves, who push themselves into breakdowns (when their bodies simply refuse to go on), because they no longer see the value of rest, recuperation, meditation, and even sleep. When did we forget that we are not, in fact, super human; and that our bodies need to be listened to, not overcome! We have become our own arch nemeses: obsessed with what we think we SHOULD be doing, achieving, and feeling; versus what’s actually going on for us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
When did we start to believe that it was actually possible to be shot seven times in the torso, and still keep going?!
So, here’s what you can do.
Become a hero who listens to their body. Who sleeps when their body requests it, as much as they can manage. Who stops when they’re sick and takes care. Who takes time to reflect, breathe and connect with their thoughts and feelings, and works through what needs to be addressed (versus stuffing it into that internal Pandora’s Box, which I promise you, will inevitably burst open and send you barmy). Who lets go of, or works to resolve, the grudges and frustrations that are soul destroying eaters of joy.
A friend of mine, Kimberly Zink, once referred to this as being a self-cleaning oven. That’s always stayed with me.
So here’s the truth, straight from me to you: it really is okay to look after yourself.
It’s not selfish. It’s not self-absorbed. It doesn’t diminish others. It restores you, so that you can take the best care of the people you love for the duration of your stay on Earth.
To be frank: it’s positively heroic!
[If you feel the need to mark your new-and-improved hero status with a colourful mask…]