When I was younger I wanted to be a boy. I know that many would launch into a big psychological dissection of what that means, but let me quickly explain that it wasn’t because I was attracted to girls or was questioning my sexuality. What I wanted was the “perks” of being a boy. See, the way I saw it, boys had way more freedom than I did.
They could climb trees because they didn’t have to wear dresses to church on Sunday. They could yell and get loud. They could go ahead and punch that annoying kid in the nose. They could get dirty and ride their bikes on the lawn and throw rocks and…I wanted to do all of those things. Sure they got into trouble, but not nearly as much as I would if I went ahead and punched little Yannah like I dreamed of every time I saw her. The expectations were different.
I remember when I was around 11, running in from playing some spy game with the neighborhood kids, hot and sweaty and gloriously intense about being more strategic and winning the game. I ran into the restroom and when I briefly stopped to wash my hands I happened to glance up at the mirror. Maybe it’s because I had been too short to really see myself in it until then, but more likely it was because I paid so little attention – but I was suddenly mesmerized. And a little taken aback.
I remember thinking “Wait, THIS is what I look like?” It didn’t match how I felt. It’s not what was in my head. See in the mirror I looked small and fragile, with mousy brown hair and big innocent eyes. Yet on the inside I felt ferocious, powerful, like a warrior. Hmm. Somewhere there was a disconnect.
Over the years, as I focused more and more on my outward appearance, I slowly began to believe the mirror over my inner self… that must be who I am. Little and powerless. Meek and quiet. I began to act that way and live my life that way. I faded into the background.
Recently I heard a fantastic podcast with Ed Mylett. His guest Mike Bayer was talking about our inner identity, the strong one, the hero, the one we were made to be. The best of all our traits combined – the one that we are when we are at the top of our game. Our most bad-a**, authentic, chiseled, brilliant self. He actually named his Merlin. And he then drew a picture of him – he had it tattooed on his arm I believe – and he would routinely ask himself “What would Merlin do in this situation?”. It would help him to be at his best, by trying to live up to his best self, aka Merlin. He then did the same with his weaker self – all of those traits that tripped him up, caused him to fail, give up, lose… he gave that self a name too. It’s kind of like the good angel on one shoulder and the bad on the other. Except it’s you and you. Proactive you vs. reactive you. Disciplined you vs. lazy you. Confident you vs. self-deprecating you. Who will win?
So I did this little exercise. I looked for my superhero self. And it brought me back to this little girl who thought she was invincible.
I would ride my bike all over town. I would play outside until dark with walkie-talkies, plotting wars and invasions. Capture the flag was my favorite game, because we played it in the woods, and I was really fast and could hide really well (at least in my humble opinion). I loved a challenge. Everytime a coin was flipped I believed it would fall in my favor. I was fiercely competitive and wonderfully creative, making up codes, and alliances, and stories of treachery and war. Our games were epic.
What would her name be, this fearless warrior girl?
The truth is that we are all powerful beings, endowed with the strength of the creator of Life itself. We are amazing creatures, fierce in mind and body, tall, strong, cunning, resourceful, and unstoppable when we set our minds to it. The strength of the human spirit is truly something to marvel at.
It’s just that so often we forget to live from that place of power – instead we slip into a lethargic life consisting of meaningless work and mindless entertainment, and we find no real purpose worthy of calling forth our inner bada**. We live to keep others happy, or to appease them, trying to not make waves or let our power show. Many forget they have it entirely.
Yet when disaster strikes it’s a different story. Out of necessity, our superhero shows up: we rise above, we dig deep, we summon up all of our strength to meet the challenge. And people are always amazed, like “I don’t know how you are doing this!” And we often think, well, it needed to be done. So I did it. Boom. (Cue the scenes where they blow up the building behind them while casually walking away wearing sunglasses).
But short of waiting around for life to deal you a blow, we can also utilise that same superhero strength on our own behalf, in order to accomplish something BIG we set out to do.
In order to come face to face with your inner warrior, you will need to create some extenuating circumstance – as in set a BIG hairy audacious goal that you feel like your normal TV watching, comfort seeking, flying under the radar, acquiescing self would not be able to meet.
What is it that scares your weaker self, and calls for that bada** self you keep on reserve?
Maybe start a new workout that pushes you. Or learn a martial art. Or sign up for classes at the community college. Or teach sunday school. Or in my case – just dare to write something from the heart and put it out there for all to see. Scary. But it will reacquaint you with your inner superhero, just in case – like me – you forgot they were there.
Start there, and then keep living out of that self. Invite your superhero self into the smaller, more mundane moments. Start living every situation aware of where your actions are stemming from – inner bada** or inner weeny?
God didn’t gift you with life so that you would fade into the background of your own story and quietly exit stage left when it’s all done. You are here to BECOME the force of nature He created you to be.
If we learn to live daily as our BEST most powerful selves, we will inevitably find our way into bigger living. Our goals will be more ambitious, our speech will be more honest, more authentic, our friendships will be deeper, our spiritual life will be more grounded and transforming… basically, our time will be spent creating a life that excites us and gets us up in the morning with a smile, anticipation – and yes, maybe a little trepidation.
Because living BIG means that we are often OUT of our comfort zone. We are stretching – with the help of our superhero inner identity.
But stretching also means we are GROWING.
So today, as I go about my morning meeting and set the tone for my day – I want to ask myself WHO is doing the planning and the WHO is executing the plan? Am I letting my weaker self take control and dictate smallness or do I want to unleash my inner bada** to run the show?
Every single MINUTE of my day it can switch back and forth. And I never beat myself up when I find that my inner weakling is suddenly front and center, whining and making excuses…I simply recognize her and return her to the back. What would my inner warrior do instead?
Do the hard thing.
Do the right thing – no matter what.
Face the hard truths.
Beat out the lies.
Dare to love.
Dare to live authentically – true to yourself.
Don’t sell yourself short and allow yourself to linger in those woe-is-me violin playing scenes. When you catch yourself, move on to the action scenes, the inspiring ones where the hero rises back up and gives that determined look when you know they have renewed focus on the mission and dang if it isn’t about to go down.
Be THAT self.
Because ultimately the choice is entirely yours. You are the hero of your own story.
OK, for those of you who still aren’t convinced and don’t think this applies to you, allow me to enter exhibit A: my mom.
I have the sweetest mom. She will bend over backwards for anyone and would never offend a soul. She doesn’t drink, doesn’t swear, doesn’t question authority, follows every rule ever invented and believes in the traditional patriarchal order of things. She has spent her life teaching Sunday school, volunteering with women’s events, and selflessly caring for her children, grandchildren and her sick elderly friends. But even my cute little mom, when her daughters are going through a hard time and being assaulted by either spiritual darkness or flesh and blood idiots – even she unleashes her inner warrior and stands with power and strength. I have witnessed this at various times in my life and it has always both surprised and inspired me.
So trust me – we ALL have an inner bada**.
In the spirit of full disclosure and as an example, I will share my “inner identities”. No, I have not yet drawn pictures or had it tattooed on my arm, but I have to admit that this exercise has actually proven to be surprisingly powerful in my life.
I named my inner warrior girl Karys and my inner weakling Slab. Who will I be today?
Karys is the warrior who fights to gain control of her emotions, her time, her thoughts, her finances, her attitude, her future. She attempts something difficult everyday – she doesn’t settle. She is honest, kind, loving, fearless and adventurous. She will help others, lead others and sacrifice. She will stand tall. She lives in content gratitude. She knows who she is and will not be swayed. She seeks knowledge and understanding to go farther and deeper – she is an explorer of the world and of life. She is disciplined and does the hard thing. She is a bada**.
Slab makes her decisions based on her emotions – and mainly fear. She listens and is swayed by all the voices, all the opinions, all the lies. She is too weak to chase her dreams, so she lets others decide for her. She takes whatever life will give her, she is a victim. She can’t get past her failures and her shortcomings and she insists on looking at them everyday, covering herself in debilitating shame. She follows others even against her better judgement and then beats herself up for it. She is insecure and tries to feel better by using things to fill the void. She is invisible and mute.
So there you have it – the two people I have been, and the choices I face everyday.
Every tendency I have, every decision I make, every action I contemplate can be placed into one of two categories – something Karys would do or something Slab would do.
I would encourage you to acquaint yourself with your inner identities and then create an alliance with your inner bada** – I promise you that life takes on a whole new dimension when you live it as you truly are: a superhero in your own right.
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 most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson