Growing up, I loved comic books. Not only would I read them, but I would spend hours daydreaming about what it would be like if I was a superhero with amazing superpowers. Of course with adulthood comes reality, and so when I grew up I knew it was time to stop dreaming about superpowers.
What is interesting though is how many people – adults – still act as is they have superpowers. They know they don’t have them, but they still try to do things that can only happen in comic books.
Here is a list of seven superpowers that, even though they only exist in the comics, we all try to use from time to time. Unfortunately, the more of these we try to do, the less effective we become and the more we just get in our own way.
- Mind Control
Mind control is exactly what it sounds like: the ability to take control of someone’s mind. A person with mind control powers can force someone to do things against their will, forget events, and even make them fall in love. Sounds great until you think about what the world would be like if other people had mind control powers and could control you!
Even though mind control doesn’t exist, many people still waste an inordinate amount of time wishing they could control what others think and do. If you have ever stressed over how someone would react to some news, or whether people would approve of a project you were working on, or simply whether a stranger likes you, then you know of what I speak.
You can not control other people. They are going to think what they think and do what they do, regardless of what you want. They may like you, they may hate you. They may approve, they may disapprove. The sooner you can stop worrying about and trying to control what others do, the sooner you can get on and live your life.
This is not to say that you should do whatever the heck you want with no care about anyone else’s feelings. We live in a society, and being polite, courteous, and thoughtful are what make us civilized. However, all you can control is your own actions. Focus on what you can do, do your best, and stop worrying about other people’s responses.
- Body Swapping
Body swappers were the heroes and villains who could “switch places” with someone else. They would take over a person’s body and usually that person would take over theirs. Every single superhero comic at some point had a story with a “body swapper.”
If we can learn anything from the large slate of Hollywood swapping movies (like Vice Versa, Freaky Friday, Like Father, Like Son, etc.) it’s that everyone has their problems. When you compare yourself to someone else, it’s very easy to focus on your negatives and their positives. It’s not until you walk a mile in their shoes (or magically inhabit their body) that you realize that they have as many, if not more, problems as you do.
Stop trying to body swap. Instead, focus on what’s currently good in your life. Take a minute to appreciate what you do have going for you. And when you find yourself becoming jealous of others, remember that everyone has problems and skeletons in their closet and those people may very well be jealous of you.
- Mind Reading
Have you ever had someone screw you over, and you then spent hours trying to figure out exactly “why” they did that? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to read their minds and know for certain?
Mind reading is impossible, so we can’t know for certain, but that doesn’t stop us from making up giant stories about what people’s motives and reasoning are. Sadly, these stories are rarely ever right. Even when they are right, they are usually only part of the story.
People are far too complicated for us to be able to easily assign underlying motives and intentions to their actions. When we try to, we usually just make the situation worse. So many people create tremendous stress and problems in their lives by obsessively trying to figure out why people behave the way they do. This is a lost cause.
The key to avoiding this is to criticize observable action, not hidden intent. If you say, “It hurts me when you make fun of my height,” that’s criticizing an observable action. They can not dispute that a) they made fun of your height and b) it hurt your feelings. If you say, “It hurts me when you try to make me look bad in front of everyone else by teasing me,” that’s criticizing intent. They can dispute that they were trying to make you look bad and come right back with, “I’m just playing, I’m not trying to make you look bad.”
At the end of the day, you have no idea what is going on in someone’s head. If you know them really well you might be able to guess, but you still could be wrong. If they are a stranger, you really have no clue. In either case, trying to figure it out is a lost cause. Deal with what you can know and observe, let go of the rest, and you will be a much happier person.
Precognition is the ability to see the future. If you had precognition, you would know exactly what was going to happen in the future and therefore you would not waste countless hours wondering and worrying about it.
Since no one can actually see the future, we are all forced to live with uncertainty. Admittedly, this is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Unfortunately, it is the only thing we can do.
Preparing for the future is one thing. Stressing about the future is entirely another. Planning and visualization are great tools, but wasting time stressing, worrying, and complaining about what “might” happen are life stealers. Sadly, the more time you spend in the present obsessing about the future, the less time you usually spend actually preparing to make the future better.
Plan for the future, but live in the present. The future will happen whether you want it to or not.
- Time Travel
Ah, wouldn’t life be sweet if we could hop in a DeLorean, go back in time, and fix our past mistakes? Of course, if science fiction has taught us anything it’s that messing with the past is a bad idea. No matter how careful you are, the space time continuum is easily disrupted.
Even though time traveling to the past is a) a bad idea and b) impossible, so many of us waste time running over the past in our heads, replaying bad experiences by playing the “if only” game (“if only I had showed up on time!” “If only I said something different!” etc.), and overall just wishing things had been different.
Guess what? No amount of wishing is going to change the past. What’s done is done. Observing the past for the purpose of learning from our mistakes is smart. Wallowing in the past and wishing things had gone different is crazy.
The next time you find yourself wallowing in the past, remind yourself that you can’t change it and bring your focus back onto what you can do right now, in the present, to make things better.
- Reality Altering Magic
Have you ever had a moment where you stopped and said, “man, my life sucks”? Probably; we all have. What did you do next? Did you curl up on the couch with a bag of Cheetos and a Law & Order marathon and just spend all day “wishing” your life was better? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it didn’t get any better as a result…
Attempting to have reality altering magic is like attempting to time travel, only you actually can change the present! You might not be able to instantly change the present, but you can take actions right now to improve your situation.
Once you’re in a downward spiral it becomes so easy to give up and just hope things will get better. Hoping and wishing are not strategies! Stop wishing and break out of the downward spiral by doing something, no matter how small, to change your situation. Even the smallest actions can build momentum that will “alter your reality.”
- Channeled Rage
The Hulk was the one superhero who could literally channel his rage. The Hulk’s catch-phrase is, “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets!” (yes, the Hulk refers to himself in the third person). Sadly, the Hulk is the only person who could turn his rage into something good. For the rest of us, rage usually just leads to hypertension, heart disease, and regret.
But boy, it sure is tempting to let ourselves explode, right? You have that moment when you feel your anger rising and you start daydreaming about letting it out. But from experience you probably know that when you do, you almost always regret it.
Giving in to rage usually only does two things:
* You do or say something you wish you didn’t
* You just make the situation worse, as the other party is now responding to your anger
Channeling rage into exercise, productivity, or any other positive outlet is great. But giving in and acting out of anger is a sure way to just make things worse for everyone.
Instead of blowing up in rage, take a few breaths, remember the big picture, and do your best to let it go. You will almost always be happier in the long run.
Comics are great and it can still be fun from time to time to imagine what it would be like to have superpowers. But when you are ready to come back to reality and move your life forward, let go of the wishing and focus on the simple actions you can actually take to get to where you want to go.
|Written on 5/5/2010 by Avish Parashar. Avish is the Motivational Smart Ass. As a speaker and on his blog, Avish makes people laugh while sharing with them simple ideas to make their lives easier and more successful. To read more of his ridiculous rantings on self improvement, watch videos of him in action, and download the free “How to Think Quick” MP3, visit http://www.MotivationalSmartAss.com||Photo Credit: eneas|