I hope you've had a good first week of spring. It's felt more like winter here, but that seems to be the way this year wants to play it. This year also seems to be rehashing old patterns for myself and others. One pattern that constantly cycles in for me is the superhero complex.
What is the superhero complex? I'm glad you asked. The superhero complex is the belief that you must help or save all the people in your life. Yes you didn't make their choices for them, but you can't just let them suffer can you? You must thrust yourself into the depths of everyone's drama to save them from themselves. Sounds like fun doesn't it?
The superhero complex is different then simply being helpful. It is proactive in nature scanning for problems and preventing consequences before they even hit a person. This pattern puts you constantly on guard for everyone in your social circle. This includes but isn't limited to: family, friends, co workers, students, clients and random acquaintances. You can see what the problem here is right off with that list. This pattern is an extremely exhausting one to run all the time. You will constantly be pulled from one life crisis to the next with no time to just chill. It not only eats up your time but it also drains your mental focus for your own life. We really only have so much attention and energy to devote to challenges. So while you've been donning your cape to rescue all the people around you chances are that your life goals are not moving along. You can't be the hero in your own story if you are the hero in everyone else's story. You end up being a supporting character in your own life.
This pattern is seductive because on the surface you look like the good guy. Well let's dig a little deeper to see why you are putting on lycra and boots. What would happen if you didn't leap to action when the bat signal blazed across the heavens? Your first thought might be well _____ wouldn't be able to cope and their life would be ruined. Can you see how egotistical that is? You are basically saying that no one but you has the answers. The people in your circle need you without you they'd be lost hopeless individuals. You bring light and meaning into their otherwise dark depressing lives. So there is the possibility that maybe that selfless act you just performed for your best friend was not so much selfless as self absorbed. You are the "best" friend in the universe. The cool one, the nice one, the most awesomest guy(or girl) in the world!!! Nope not ego driven at all. Now that is not all of the reasons why we help people sometimes we do it because we want people to like us. We figure if they need us they won't leave us. Sorry to note according to social psychology research this is untrue as the people who routinely give more in a relationship often value it more than the people receiving. So poor self esteem that leads us to go above and beyond the call of duty to our loved ones actually doesn't make us any more secure in our relationships and in fact can make us less secure.
Now you might just be saying wait back up just a bit I am not doing this for attention, and I don't feel insecure in my relationships (really never ever?). I rescue people because I like the feeling of helping others. Fair enough I sympathize. I get a good rush out of it too (just like any addict), but are you really helping people when you rush off to "save them". If we save people from their own messes all the time they just continue to create more messes. The burnt hand teaches best. When we make it our job to worry over someone else's choices we are setting ourselves and everybody else up for misery. We keep others from growing and we keep ourselves locked into a struggle for control of the world. Maybe it's time to be Clark Kent to the world and Superman for our own challenges.
So how about you? Do you spend your nights prowling the dangerous streets of your social circle's life issues? Do you spend all your energy running around putting out the fires of your friends and family? Are you putting safety labels on life? Maybe you should hang up the cape, take a nap. Ignore the bat signal in your mental sky and allow others the opportunity to step up and become their own heroes. That doesn't mean you can't lend a hand from time to time just make sure there are no ego strings attached beyond the strings of love.
Peace and Blessings,