What Makes Me Weak

Categories Self, Thinking

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…”

This week’s hosts are Kristi from Finding Ninee and Lisa from The Golden Spoons



Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

24 thoughts on “What Makes Me Weak

  1. You know, it’s funny and disturbing how many of us decided that the answer to the prompt is that we are our kryptonite. I’m not sure really what it means. Is it something about wanting to write? Is it being a mother? I mean, you come across as being pretty confident (actually, most of the writers in this linky seem confident, even when they are writing about their LACK of self-confidence!), yet it’s clear that is not how you see yourself.

    I don’t think that I have any magical answers, and nothing that would fit into the comment box in a blog. Maybe all that I can offer is that I enjoy reading what you write, and look forward to what you will share with us in the future.


    1. First, yay for virtual hugs! 🙂
      Did that many of us say the same thing? Wow. Clearly, we are a like-minded bunch! I can’t say I’m surprised, though, because I see it with the #1000Speak posts, too. So many people, month after month, talk about how they are not compassionate with themselves. So I kind of wonder if this is part of the human condition – and if it is, why???
      I am a pretty confident person overall, Anna. Truly. But I most definitely have moments (days…weeks) that the doubt creeps in and takes over. So I just keep working to make sure I keep that at bay.
      I’m glad you enjoy reading here – thank you for saying so! I think self-doubt is definitely par for the course for writers. Even when we know we’ve knocked out a great piece, some little part wonders if anyone else will think so. 😀

  2. I agree with Anna – It is comforting and Discomforting that so many of us (myself included) said we are our own kryptonite! Why do we do that to ourselves?? I suppose if we knew the answer, we would be writing very different posts.

    1. Lisa, I suppose you’re right about that. It definitely popped up a lot with this prompt and I do think we are very similar people in the way we see ourselves. For whatever reason, we don’t always see ourselves the way others do.

  3. I, too, am disturbed by how many of us said we’re our own kryptonite, but you know, it makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, if something were in the way of our kids and a good school experience, we’d be all over that, easily and confidently. But when somebody tells us we can do anything? So easy to think “nah, not really.” Great post Lisa. So glad you linked up.

    1. Thanks, Kristi. I hated this prompt so hard at first, but when I just let go of what I was afraid of admitting, it just kind of fell out of my head. Funny how that happens… But I’m glad I pushed through. 😀
      You’re right, though. The number of us who have these similar feelings is kind of surprising, and yet not at all. We can do the things we have to – when I sit in meetings and advocate for Zilla, when I had to fight to get through grad school, deal with a job I needed to leave, etc. I do what I must and don’t back down. But for me? Why do we suddenly flip a switch and think we don’t deserve the same effort? It’s a mystery to me. Maybe we’re people who expect more of ourselves? Maybe we care more? If we didn’t, we’d just put up our feet and have a glass of wine or something and say “to hell with it.” But we don’t. We fret. We worry. We doubt. But at least we keep on.

  4. I think this is a pretty common feeling with most people. We become the villain in our own story. I especially like the last paragraph. Self-love and self-compassion can build resistance to all that negative energy. Always practicing positive thoughts is key to overcoming our weaknesses. Some days this is hard to do. Thanks for sharing these great thoughts.

  5. Greek mythology and a comic book hero is the best way possible to start out a blog post. Of course, I loved the meaning of the post even more. I’m young and I have self-doubt issues all the time because I feel the need to be perfect when that’s COMPLETELY impossible. It’s inspiring to see someone with the same weakness still have the ability to develop into a strong woman.

    I also wanted to mention that it made my day when you tagged me in your post on Facebook! I felt included into the vast blogosphere for the first time.

    1. Gotta love that juxtaposition, right? 😀
      The need to be perfect is a common one, Aaliyah. I think it’s best to realize that we don’t have to be perfect. Think of Ben Franklin – he devised a plan to achieve moral perfection. He didn’t, of course, but realized in the end that he was at least a better man for the effort. That’s a great perspective. Thanks for your lovely comment and you’re so welcome for the tag. It’s a big place, the blogosphere – just hang in there and keep making connections!

  6. I’ve read several of the FTSF posts this weekend, and so many people are their own kryptonite.
    My favourite four words in your post are: “the effects are temporary.” Yes. I love that, it puts it all in perspective! I can be my own kryptonite too, though less often than I used to be, and yes, the effects are temporary.
    I enjoyed this post, Lisa, thanks!

    1. I saw that, Yvonne, and was reminded how often I’ve seen #1000Speak posts that talk about how the writer lack self-compassion. It’s interesting, isn’t it?
      I think it’s good to remember that the effects are temporary and that we can move toward a place where we are less affected – just like Superman could ultimately develop a better resistance to it. So glad you came to read, Yvonne!

  7. This is precisely what we always hear from 1000 Speak. It’s probably a writer thing, but really it’s a human being thing.
    Thanks for explaining more of kryptonite to me. As I say in my post, I am no Superman expert and the 3 Doors Down song came to mind before any lines about more than a weakness, as the definition and relation are more what I am familiar with instead of from any comic books.
    I like what you say about needing to get on with the business of life and living. I am focusing on doing just that.

    1. I know, right? The #1000Speak posts often convey a sense of self-doubt, a lack of self-compassion. I think it’s definitely part of the human condition. But maybe we writers are of a slightly different ilk and we feel it more intensely? I don’t know.
      I saw your comments about Superman and Batman. I’m truly more of a Batman girl myself. Batman and Ironman. Why? Because they are regular dudes with really cool stuff. 😀 I have a post about it buried here on the blog somewhere…
      We all need to get on with the business of living, Kerry, lest we (as Thoreau says) find at the end of our lives that we have not lived.

  8. Love this. We all fall victim to feeling weak or as if we’ve failed but it takes strength to get back on with it. I think of it from a spiritual perspective….thinking spiritually gives me strength, thinking materially (from a human only standpoint) gives me conflicting and often negative feelings. Often I just wait patiently for some divine inspiration. Sometimes I describe myself as ‘flying by the seat of my pants’ but I guess I’m just randomly responding to inspiration and acting on it. Seems to work well! Love the video clip.

    1. You’re so right, Leanne, it does take strength to get up and keep going. I like your take on waiting for inspiration. I think that’s often very true for me. I like to think of it as being open to it, waiting patiently, and listening. The hints are there if we just pay attention. Glad you like the clip! I thought it was cool.

  9. Yes! If only I could give myself the advice I give other people – the “You rock” moments. Or the “Everything is going to be ok.” It’s like I think of myself as the one exception to success or confidence or happiness?
    Even though I achieve all, sometimes. And I’ve been through the early death of my father, terrible financial times, and I had my own traumatic birth experience. (we should talk)
    Loved this.

    1. I often wonder that, Tamara. Why do we boost up others and cut ourselves down? Do we think, like you said, we’re the exception? Do we think we’re undeserving? Is it some twisted form of humility? No idea. But we should stop doing it!
      Member of the traumatic birth club? Yeah, we probably should talk!
      Thanks for your great comment!

  10. Wow this definitely is the theme this week. I thought it was going to be a funny prompt. I don’t want to think too hard about whether I am my own Kryptonite or not. But I want to drop off this quote that I re-shared this morning from five years ago. I must have felt some kind of way to have shared it then and it still resonates…

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? ~ Marianne Williamson

    1. It definitely was the theme, Kenya. I saw that. I actually wanted to go funny with this one, but I couldn’t get anything funny to happen. 😀
      I love this quote – absolutely love it. And think there is much truth there. I honestly think that’s what sends me into the self-doubt. Objectively, I know I’ve got this, you know? I’ve accomplished a lot, I’m doing bold things with my life, making daring choices. And that’s terrifying. So I think your quote here is exactly it. We don’t quite know what to do with all of that power, so we run from it. Thanks for sharing that!

  11. When I think Kryptonite, I think donuts, or maybe pie. But you’re right – the thing that keeps us down most of all usually is ourselves. I know my enemy better than any, and still haven’t found a way to really beat him.

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