There seems to be a tremendous increase in the number of movies and shows about Superheroes. The idea of having extraordinary powers captivates the young and the old alike. If you think about it, the concept is as old as man. Consider Greek mythology or the Journey of the Fool that is portrayed in the Tarot. We love a good story of triumph over struggles. We see many of the superheroes as modern day Greek gods, (of secular life – otherworldly figures able to tackle the problems of this human world).
Like the gods of Greek mythology, superheroes are often flawed. (Some may argue that we need them to be flawed.) A part of their appeal is that we can relate to them, despite their powers. I personally have enjoyed many of the Marvel characters (no offence to DC comic fans) beginning with the X-Men and it’s metaphor for prejudices, Thor’s having to leave behind a life of privilege until he becomes humble, Captain America who’s strength is his compassion before he has physical strength and the soon to be explored in cinema Scarlet Witch (Yea for a female hero!).
We are drawn to their backstories, the apparent lessons they must learn or hardships overcome in order to become the superhero. At their best, superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose. (Wearing a cape or tights is optional.) There is something about the vulnerabilities they display that help us accept our own.
There is a growing trend amongst therapists to begin to use the Superheroes as part of their therapy. I have found the rich visuals of the transformations and adventures useful in some of my hypnosis sessions. It has certainly been an opportunity for me to get to better know some of my younger or geekier clients. (I do love me some geeks!) All of this leads me to think about some of the lessons I have learned through the stories of these characters. So here are 9 lessons I have learned from Superheroes.
1.     Life has ups and downs. You can overcome one obstacle only to discover another one. Enjoy your victories, but understand you must always keep up the fight!
2.     Not everyone will see you for who you are. Clark Kent is not recognized as Superman, nor is Peter Parker as Spider-Man or Bruce Banner as the Hulk.
3.     Be proud of who you are. The X-men were misunderstood in spite of the good they did for mankind and not seen as human. How many groups can claim the same prejudice whether it is about their skin color, sexual orientation, gender, culture, religion or any other reason?
4.     With great power comes great responsibility. Peter Parker chose to use his ability to scale any height to work for the good of all, rather than make a personal profit.
5.     We can all make a difference. The lesson of Batman is this: you don’t have to be born with super powers to be a hero. Bruce Wayne can’t fly, he’s not part god, he doesn’t transform when he’s angry. He just fights bad guys. “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me,” Batman says in 2005’s “Batman Begins.” Even fractured people can make a difference.
6.     Don’t be paralyzed by self-pity. Disabled? I don’t think so. Professor Charles Francis Xavier is a paraplegic, but he possesses one of the most powerful mutant minds of all time.
7.     Don’t focus on your weaknesses.  Superman let his secret out to the world regarding Kryptonite. It became the most effective tool used against him. Focus on your strengths instead of your “kryptonite”.
8.     Everyone has a dark side.  We all have our past or our “secrets” that we fear will someday be exposed and ruin us. The Scarlet Witch (aka Wanda Maximoff) went through many changes in character before she eventually became a positive force in the Avengers.
9.     Capes are cool.  I loved them as a kid and I still wouldn’t mind running around with a cape flying behind me.


I’d love to know what your thoughts are on the Superheroes and maybe even some lessons you have learned that I left out here. Please, next time you have a little spare time, imagine which Superhero you might be, close your eyes and imagine putting that ability or talent to good use. Then breathe in the thrill of adventure in your life or, just don a cape and fly!