The darkness will come, and it will envelop all that you are and take what feels like your very last breath to survive.
It is all but guaranteed.
Not one person escapes this life without personal pain and difficult days. We all know loss, we all learn grief. It may look different for each person but loss is loss and grief is grief. We all have those days where we are sure the sun will never rise again, and we wonder how the world keeps spinning.
So how do we survive and how do we push forward when the darkness comes?
Well, the truth is, you are going to have to learn to become your own hero. You will have to decide to save yourself again, and again, show up, do the hard work and determine your life is worth the effort it requires to keep pushing forward.
It won’t be easy.
It won’t be neat and tidy.
It won’t be simple, cut and dried or well defined.
There is no rule book for life after loss, grief, pain, difficulty or trauma. There is no right or wrong; there is only a knowing and discovering of self that reveals the next level of who you can become.
To thrive rather than survive, you will be faced daily with small micro-decisions, that if made repeatedly can and will to take you forward. Death taught me about living more than any other experience in this lifetime. Death taught me passion, vibrancy, perspective and the art of being vulnerable. With all the gifts of grief I took away from becoming widowed at 36 years young, perhaps the biggest lesson was on how to grow into being my own superhero. You can look for someone else to come along and save the day but whatever you find won’t be lasting or sustainable because, in this life, only you can save you, only you can find the resolve, the inner strength, the power. It’s on you, and as scary as that may be, I hope you find it exhilarating, freeing and ultimately empowering. No blame to be laid on anyone else, you take full ownership of your existence, your progress, your peace, and your path forward. There are so many ways you can live again and own the future, but below I’ve compiled my top 11 tips for becoming your own superhero in this life. I hope one or two speak to you and strengthen your resolve for a new day.
#11 – Don’t Conform
You don’t have to follow societies rules, and you don’t have to be what anyone else thinks is the correct version of you. I believe true happiness came for me when I stopped trying to live for what everyone else thought success looked like and starting defining the definition for myself. On my very last day, I will not care what the masses wanted for my life; only my voice will matter, so I’ve given the vote to that voice alone. It’s not a matter of being cold or detached from what we can learn from each other, but rather taking what we need from opinion, perspective and the wisdom of a good friend or family member and using it to inform, rather than direct.
#10 – Don’t let other people’s opinions sway you.
I realize that this is similar to #11, but it does offer some slight differences. Not only should you not conform, but also don’t let what others think about your path stop you from going in the direction of your dreams. The truth is most people doubt big goals or ambitions they don’t understand. Many people play small, and most of the human race is taught to live within 40% of its actual potential. The bigger you dream, the more people will be negative with you and try to make you change course because your dreams seem impossible to them and scary as hell. Sometimes I find it easier to keep my ideas to myself, quiet and reflective, and when the day comes that I reach my big dreams people can assume it happened overnight. I will know the truth; it was a lot of time, hard work, and a determination to be a superhero.
#9 – Follow your dreams and don’t quit.
“Magic happens when you don’t give up, even though you want to. The universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart.” That is one of my all-time favorite quotes by Jm Storm. You have to be determined never to give up; you have to decide that it will be hard, you will have days where you want to quit and conclude that you will fail more times than you succeed. That’s okay; failure is life’s greatest teacher, allow it to mold you into the strongest of superheroes.
#8 – Make yourself start.
Starting is indeed the hardest part. Those first steps, that first walk, call, workout, email or bold move can be brutal. The good news is once you start it all becomes easier and more comfortable day after day. Think of it was a series of building blocks you develop through baby steps day after day. Don’t ask too much of yourself day one, start with a simple and very obtainable goal and allow yourself to feel proud one that objective is checked off the list. The next day do a little more and keep going from there. Build, grow, learn, and never stop.
#7 – Eat, move, and think as if you love yourself.
You can’t be your superhero if you don’t take care of yourself. Truthfully, you need to put yourself at the top of the list so that you can be your very best for everyone else in your life. Eat as many whole foods as possible, exercise, drink water, meditate, smile and laugh at life often. You get one body and one life, stop acting like it’s an afterthought. Every single day make yourself worth the effort. Treat it like the temple it is.
#6 – Minimize because the less that you own, the less that owns you.
I’m a big fan of minimizing everything in life. When you purge your life of unwanted and unneeded things you give yourself freedom, you release weight; you declutter not only your physical being but your mental one as well. Saying goodbye to the load will change your life in ways you never imagined. Live with less so you can LIVE more.
#5 – Know your superpowers and double down on your strengths.
I am all for working on what you struggle with but why not also really spend time on what you excel at? You have superpowers right now that you already know make this world a better place. Why not spend more time bringing those to the world? How do you know what your superpowers are?
Ask yourself, what makes me feel alive?
What brings me joy?
What do people tell me I’m good at?
The answers to those questions will reveal a lot, and you can build a future full of purpose and meaning from there.
#4 – Stay true to your principles and walk away from drama.
Be kind in this life but don’t let people walk on you. One of my favorite things to say is, “always be kind but don’t take anyone’s crap.” Just because you are kind and forgiving does not mean you have to be a doormat. Walk away from drama and those who create it and do what you know in your soul to be the right thing. If I feel like something is wrong, I won’t do it….ever. My principles are fundamental to me, as is my character.
#3 – Your mental strength is your greatest asset if you allow it to be.
Day after day you will want to work on building your mental fortitude so you are ready to face anything that comes your way. How do you do that? Well, for starters, make sure you stay away from negative energy and negative people. These people will drain you of your ability to trust your instincts, listen to your heart and find strength in your own choices. Mediation works wonders for mental toughness as does physical fitness, continued growth, and education, and reflective time in nature. Don’t overthink it, if it makes you feel strong; it’s an asset in your life going forward.
#2 – Remembering that adversity breeds extraordinary strength and empathy.
I realize when you’ve been through traumatic experiences the last thing you want to hear is that it makes you special….but it does. Life’s hardest challenges change you at a cellular level. They make you feel deeper, love more completely, take bigger risks, and live every moment of this life more completely. There is a new form of psychology that studies just this phenomenon, and it’s called, “Post Traumatic Growth.” Don’t allow your life’s struggles to define you bitterly and negatively, decide to grow and become the very best version of your inner self.
#1 – Take personal responsibility.
This is my favorite of all superhero traits. You must understand you, and you alone hold power, and you must take the personal responsibility to shape the life you want to live. Don’t become a victim, don’t blame others, don’t look back at your childhood and say, “if only it had been different” because it can’t be different, but you have the power, at this moment to make today different and every day after that.
The truth is, nobody is coming to save you in this life. Get up, do work, and make your days count. You are worth the effort, and you are still here for a reason.
Read more from Michelle in her best selling book, Healthy Healing http://www.healthyhealingbook.com