Honor Your Superpowers

Posted by on Apr 17, 2020 in Blog From The Experts | 0 comments

Written by Martha McDonald, MA.Ed., LPCC

Our Emotions Really Are Our Superpowers!

Martha McDonald, counselor at Avenues of Counseling and mediation

Do you dream of having superpowers? Maybe a burst of energy and strength when you need it most? A super sense and warning signal that tells you when something is wrong or needs to be changed? Or even the ability to recognize when you need to morph into your detective or warrior persona? I have some awesome news…you DO have such superpowers. Most people call them “feelings.”

 

Commonly, people think of feelings as either good or bad, positive or negative. Because of this, we often judge ourselves and others for having certain feelings. This can lead to disconnection and even make our discomfort worse. But a feeling by itself is neither good nor bad. It is what you do with a feeling – the behaviors that come from that feeling – that can be good or bad. Just as you can use super strength to build instead of demolish, and laser vision to defensively defeat foes instead of offensively cause destruction, you can first learn to recognize your emotional superpowers and then learn how to use them for good.

 

The first step in superpower training is giving ourselves permission to feel ALL feelings without automatically labeling them as bad or wrong. To do this, we can start by dispelling myths and shifting how we interpret feelings. Anger, anxiety, and guilt are good examples of potentially useful emotions that have bad reputations. Let’s look at them through the lens of each feeling having a “job” or a function:

 

Anger

Anger’s job is to send the message that we don’t like something or that change is needed. Anger has an energy that is meant to motivate us to make that change. Anger has a bad reputation for causing pain and destruction. “Don’t be angry…you shouldn’t be angry.” NO! We all have the right to be angry, but we do have to be careful with it. Learning to use this superpower productively requires several skills including self-control, knowledge of healthy boundaries and healthy assertiveness.

 

Anxiety

Anxiety’s job is to be the alarm that moves us to action or problem solving. When I am training superheroes and heroines, I often hear “Get rid of ALL my anxiety.” NO! That would be like not having a fire alarm in a cardboard building. Anxiety is an incredibly powerful and necessary alarm system. It too has a bad reputation, especially because of the physical ways we experience it. Learning to use this superpower productively requires skills that first turn down the volume of the anxiety alarm. We then learn to recognize which worries need to be problem solved and which need to be let go. There are several specific kinds of skills we use to manage both kinds of worries.

 

Guilt

Guilt’s job is to teach. It indicates that we could have done something differently or that we need to make amends and repairs. People often confuse healthy guilt with unhealthy guilt, and even worse, shame. Because of this, we often try to ignore the discomfort of guilt or we disconnect ourselves to try to avoid feeling bad. Learning to use this superpower productively includes skills of exploration to find the lesson guilt is trying to teach and then addressing and completing that lesson.

 

To sum up, all feelings are ok and are not necessarily problematic. The damage linked to feelings comes from what we do with them. No one deserves chastisement from others or themselves for the feelings we experience. The first step in the process of superpower training, referred to by some as controlling or managing emotions, is giving ourselves permission to feel without judgement or shame. No superhero or heroine must walk this path alone though. Let a superpower mentor, also known as therapist, help you learn to use your feelings for good and not evil.

Read more about Martha here.

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