No one likes to admit weakness.
We prefer to present ourselves as strong and capable, fearless and invincible, to the world and to ourselves.
But no one is without their Achilles’ heel, their own personal Kryptonite. It’s different for each of us, of course. But let’s talk about Achilles and Superman for just a minute…
Achilles’ weakness was the one spot where his mother, Thetis, held him while dipping him into the river Styx to make him immortal and physically invulnerable – his heel. Similar to Achilles, Superman’s parents also wanted to protect him and so sent their infant son, Kal-El away from their doomed planet. Superman’s weakness came in the form of Kryptonite, radioactive remnants of his home planet, Krypton.
Of course there are many details to discuss in both cases (and the science behind Kryptonite is rather fascinating), but the commonality I noticed is that for both men, their vulnerability and weakness stemmed from someone or something close to them – something of home.
And that connection is what made me realize that my own greatest weakness is something close to me, of home.
My Kryptonite is me.
I’ve had my share of experiences in life. Some have been negative, even traumatic; many more have been positive, what can easily be categorized as success. Through personal experience or that of someone close to me, I’ve had brushes with illness, death, depression, and suicide. I’ve seen tough times financially, stuck it out through jobs I did not love, and successfully attained employment at jobs I have loved completely. I’ve made it through job interviews, breakups, and grad school. I’ve given workshops and seminars and published a few articles. I’ve lived through one root canal, two broken toes, a couple of car accidents, and a traumatic birth experience.
I could keep going. I won’t. Because my successes and failures aren’t the point here. The point is that no matter the result, somewhere along the road to either success or failure, I fall victim to the Kryptonite of self doubt.
I like to think I’m a pretty strong and confident person. I mean come on – look at the list of things that I and the people close to me have conquered. Even the most upsetting experiences among them have, at the very least, taught me something about life or about who I want to be. I am strong and healthy, all things considered. I am intelligent and talented. I am a good wife and mother. I manage to keep my house relatively clean.
And yet despite all of that, there are days I get it all backwards. I question my talents and minimize my achievements. I stare at the ceiling at night wondering if I’m doing a good job as a parent. I talk myself out of pushing harder for my goals because that kind of success and happiness is for other people. I become the villain in my story, my own worst enemy.
If someone else read me my life as their own, I would tell that person they were kicking ass and taking names. So why don’t I say that to myself? Why the self-doubt and criticism? Objectively, I know there’s no reason. Self-examination and reflection is a good thing; it’s healthy and positive and helps us grow as human beings. So what happens on those days when I can’t believe in myself? What takes my mindset from self-reflection to self-reproach?
[tweetthis]I become the villain in my story, my own worst enemy. I am my own kryptonite.[/tweetthis]
My Husband tells me I get in my own way. I over-think things and “what if” far too much. He’s right (but don’t tell him). I do that. And the only reason I can come up with is fear. Fear of failure, fear of criticism or rejection, even fear of success – no matter what form, fear chips away at my confidence, strength, and power. It’s a completely normal human thing; everyone experiences it at some point. (I’ve even written on this before – check out my #1000Speak post on self-reproach and fear here.) Fear can either mobilize us or paralyze us and I know I would do far better overall if I would just skip the part where I let fear trip me up for a few hours (or days or whatever) and go straight to the part where I get over myself and forge ahead.
I’m still learning.
So here’s the thing about Superman and Kryptonite that I think is key to remember: the effects are temporary. Superman is able to recover from his Kryptonite exposure pretty fast; once the source of his weakness is removed, he regains his strength almost instantly and gets back to business. And if you’re a geek like me and do a little digging on the topic, you’ll find some discussion out there that suggests the longer Superman hangs around basking in the yellow light and energy of Earth’s sun, the more resistant he will become to the negative effects of Kryptonite.
Perhaps, like Superman, we just need to make sure we expose ourselves to the positive energy of self-love and self-compassion so that we can become potentially resistant to the negative effects of self-doubt and self-criticism. I don’t know about you, but I have things I need to do with my life. I don’t really have time to sit around and question my ability to complete the mission.
I have to get back to business.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.
This week’s sentence prompt is “My kryptonite is…”