Superhero movies are very popular these days. The rise in interest in them is quite intriguing.
We have achieved so much in the last two centuries, to such an extent that we have exceeded even the wildest dreams of our ancestors. We can see this if we look at the way performance in sport has evolved. To take just one example, the performance of gymnasts in the most recent Olympic Games bears no resemblance to the Olympics of sixty years ago.
But having said that, not all changes are for the better. According to the World Health Organisation depression is one of main reasons for dysfunctionality in the world. How is this possible? We achieve amazing things and yet we are more and more dissatisfied with the world, with others and with ourselves. Is one possible reason that we don’t know how to accept our limits?
The good news is that we have some skills that we can train to achieve super-human like abilities. I know that at first it sounds like something you weren’t expecting, but we need a bit of context.
Awareness and Choice
We, as humans, unlike other living things, have the freedom to choose how we live our lives. The freedom to choose sounds great, but it comes with difficulties and challenges.
Questions like: Did I make the right decision? What if there’s something better for me right around the corner? What if I am not good enough? are often a result of (a) too many choices to make, (b) too many possibilities, or (c) a sign of the difficulty of accepting our own responsibilities.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against opportunities, freedom of choice or freedom in general. What I mean is that too much of anything in our lives, good or bad, can have an unwanted effect on our emotions.
One way to decrease the burden of choice is to become aware of our own values or even of our own meaning in life. We could start by asking ourselves what’s really important for me? What brings colour to my life? What are the things that I would sacrifice my time for? What brings me a sense of fulfilment? By being aware of our values, of the way we want our lives to be, we can prioritise more easily and indirectly guide our own decisions.
Awareness and Power
Being aware of ourselves in real time, of our emotions and of our own thoughts, gives us the possibility of self-regulating our behaviour, our choice of words and our reactions, even as we are speaking and acting. In other words, the capacity to reflect on our own thoughts during an ongoing conversation, and to anticipate the possible effects of our words on others is something that can be seen as a super-human-like ability. I know that usually internal abilities like meta-cognition or the ability to be aware of our own thought processes do not seem as interesting as the external abilities presented in superhero movies, things like, scampering up sheer walls, shooting bolts of lightning from your bare hands, or stopping time.
Perhaps the most interesting internal ability presented on the big screen is Professor X’s telepathic ability read about Charles Xavier. But our level of metacognitive awareness can be a good predictor of our social abilities, the way we succeed in influencing and persuading others, which in a way sounds similar to the ability of Professor X.
Awareness and Meaning of Life
Even if we had superhero-like capabilities, I ask myself, would they be the means to fulfilment in life or would they be fulfilling enough to be the end goal? What’s the point? Why do we dream, of having superpowers? I can’t answer these questions for anyone. I think that for many of us, we don’t really need superpowers as such. People fantasise about superpowers because they see them as a ticket to a more fulfilling life. So perhaps a better approach would be to simply look for the real needs that could make us fulfilled. What do you really need?
I hope that this final question opens an internal search, an opportunity to engage in a bit of self-scrutiny, and you see it as an invitation to find values, make easer decisions and train your metacognitive abilities, in your own way.
- Metacognition Mediates the Effect of Social Communication on Self-management.
- Metacognitive emotion regulation.
- Connecting Mindfulness and Meaning in Life – Exploring the Role of Authenticity.
written by Karol J. Wild