I work out at an elite gymnastics gym for girls between the ages of 5 and 18. My trainer, Orlando, is also a physical therapist and while I concentrate on strength and stretching, I wonder what it would feel like to swing on the parallel bars, perform back flips on a four inch balance beam, and run like the wind, throw a huge vault into the air, and avoid breaking every bone in my body. The only words I can think of when I watch the girls is “super heroes.”
I got in the habit of asking them, “What’s your super power?”
They each have a different area where they shine. Some are champions on the balance beam. Some crush it on the parallel bars while still others are so flexible, they do more than a split. I’ll never forget seeing a group of tiny, muscular young girls I call pixies, with one leg on the ground, the other hoisted up on a four inch foam box, all the while texting and chatting with each other.
I remember a time when just being a hero was good enough. These days, there are so many Marvel movies about superheroes like Ironman, Batman, Antman and on and on, people have lost track of reality but in truth. everyone has a super power, an ability that rises above and beyond the limitations of human beings. I wondered if I had a superpower. And then, I sprained my ankle.
I was on the trampoline, landing on my butt and then jumping up to my feet in reps of ten. It was going great until I reached number ten. As I jumped from sitting to standing, I heard a hideous pop and felt my ankle twisting hard underneath me. There were shots of pain and I dropped back onto the trampoline. In one second flat, Orlando was sitting beside me. “Breathe,” he instructed me. He had taught me to do a circular breath, inhale through my nose and push out the breath forcefully, filling the body with so much oxygen, it overcomes pain and anxiety.
I did as I was told. I breathed and I calmed my mind by saying, “It’s just a sprain. You did so much worse than this in the ballet.” I was programming my brain to promote healing and emptying my psyche of fear and angst. I walked on my foot, it was massively black and blue, making sure I wasn’t favoring the other ankle and I continued to breathe. As I walked, I seemed to have circumvented the pain. Two weeks later, the black and blue was gone and so was the swelling. I realized I had a super power: the ability to heal quickly and completely, a feat for anyone of a certain age.
We all have our own brand of weaknesses. They make us human. But we also have our strengths. If you really look, you can find area where you excel – a kind of superpower that sets you apart from others. You may not be faster than a speeding bullet or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound like Superman. You may not be able to scale buildings or catch bad guys in your web like Spiderman. You may not be able to shrink yourself like Antman or fly over a city like Wonder Woman, but you have unique talents and abilities that you may not have discovered. If you see yourself for what and who you are, for what you can and can’t do, you may be surprised to see your capabilities and act on them with respect and dignity.
So what’s your super power?