Raising toddlers is a challenge worthy of a superhero – and every superhero must undergo some intense training before they can handle their power and responsibility. If you are a parent living with mental illness or struggling with the balance of mental health and parenthood, you can relate to this.
In real life, there is no such thing as a superhero training montage. We have to complete the training in real-time, with real hard work going into each phase. The mental training required is rewarding, time-consuming, and constant practice for the rest of our lives. These are the small details left out of most superhero origin stories.
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5 Ways Therapy is Actually Superhero Training
1. Dramatic Origin Story
Superman never had the chance to know his own family and culture because it was robbed from him as a child, stranding him on an unfamiliar planet. Bruce Wayne witnessed his parents’ tragic death as a child – even The Joker was dismally ignored by the mental health system, leading him to find his own less productive coping mechanisms.
Therapy travels through the most damaged fragments of our lives, which altogether cumulated our unique origin story. The painful and the proud, the shameful and the exciting – all of these personal experiences shaped us into the flawed person we have become. To come into our powers we must face these difficult memories with acceptance and grace.
2. Gradual Change with Setbacks
No training montage is believable without a few setbacks because we all know that in real life, it takes commitment and a willingness to change. It’s not easy to unlearn all the things we thought we knew about life and replace them with self-compassion. Setbacks are inevitable – even Thor, who was a decorated war hero and literal god, lost himself to depression when tragedy struck his life again. What did he do? He went back to the basics and did another training montage.
“I make grave mistakes all the time. Everything seems to work out.” (Thor, Thor: Ragnarok)
Healing is not linear. Healing takes lifelong dedication and the patience to allow yourself to get through the hard times, trusting that you will remember your affirmations. Patience is a genuine expression of confidence and faith in your own ability, a sign of strength worthy of a superhero. Trust that you will grow through each mistake.
3. Breathing Techniques
Regulating emotions is a lot like reigning in unruly superpowers – it starts with the breath. When your heart is racing and your fight or flight mode is lighting up, you can’t get caught with no way out – that’s how you get your cape sucked into a giant fan. In these moments, remember your training and use breathing techniques like the relaxing box breath exercise: exhale to the count of 4, hold your lungs empty to the count of 4, inhale to the count of 4, hold that inhale to the count of 4, and repeat.
4. Boundaries Equal Balance
As a superhero, we have to know when we cannot save the world and when we have to say no to something that will rob us of our peace. Therapy helps us to merge the two contradicting sides of ourselves so we can live as one whole embodiment of our values and leave the dissociation in the past. This doesn’t mean we abandon our old selves, but that we accept ourselves for who we are becoming.
“I have nothing to prove to you.” (Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel)
Standing up for ourselves is just as important as standing up for someone in need, and it isn’t always the job of one person. Trauma survivors often internalize the role of people-pleaser, thus making boundary setting an important part of training to be a superhero. If it robs you of your peace, reserve the right to say no.
5. Self Acceptance
Through our healing journey, we learn that as long as we can access our peace, it doesn’t matter where we are – we are capable of choosing to be happy. By shedding the invisible barriers we’ve fortressed around our hearts, we become free. Breaking down these walls also allows us to shed the burden of caring about what others think because we know the truth of our hearts.
“My armor was never a distraction or a hobby, it was a cocoon, and now I’m a changed man. You can take away my house, all my tricks and toys, but one thing you can’t take away – I am Iron Man.” (Tony Stark, Iron Man 3 )
The discipline of character is always an important part of any superhero story. By living our lives honestly and accepting ourselves with our flaws, we live a life with integrity. Did you know that young Bruce Wayne was actually afraid of bats? By embracing his weakness, he showed immense self-acceptance.
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These lessons are important for our maintaining our own peace as well as helping us model these superhero tactics for our children. Raising children doesn’t take super strength of muscle, but it does take strength of mind and heart. The most efficient superheroes recognize the importance of resiliency on an arduous healing journey.
“What One Does With The Truth Is More Difficult Than You Think.” (Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman)
While we believe Wonder Woman deserves more self-care rituals in her strenuous schedule, she’s certainly right about one thing: the truth can be hard to accept. Remember your training, take a deep breath, and shine your light.
2 thoughts on “Is Therapy Superhero Training In Disguise?”
This is really interesting and helpful with your suggestions. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you I’m glad you found it helpful! 😊