Psychological Superpowers and Their Shadows

Truth seeking (shadow: dwelling in denial).

The greatest of all psychological superpowers is being willing to face and accept the truth. The truth of a situation, the truth about a person, the truth about the nature of reality, the truth about religion, the truth about money, the truth about success, the truth about sex and love and everything in between.

But most of us cower away from the truth (of course, never admitting that we’re hiding from it). Instead, we just avoid facing certain things: our bank account balance, whether or not we love our girlfriend/boyfriend, how alcohol and drugs ruin our brains, the number on the scale, how we waste time on social media.

We also ignore how our ignorance and selfishness hurts other people. We seek pleasure for ourselves at the expense of the hearts and minds of others: we stay in relationships to benefit from them even though we know we’re being dishonest; we prolong bitter ends for our own gain.

Truth seeking means one thing: you face reality as it is, not as you wish it were. You can count the number of people who do this on one hand.

Psychological lightness (shadow: psychological baggage)

The ability to be psychologically light means that you are able to approach each situation in your life with a fresh state of mind. You’re not coming to this morning with all of the baggage of the rest of your life.

It’s not natural or easy to do this: we are not trained to keep our minds psychologically light. We are conditioned to hold grudges, keep memories alive in our minds, think of the future, and worry about everything in between.

Psychological lightness means you’re living in this moment, and you’re accepting everything that is presented to you. You’re not in resistance to life.

The shadow of psychological baggage is the diametric opposite: you bring all of your trauma, unfinished emotional business, repressed anger and sadness and hate and anxiety to a new moment.

Emotion recognition (shadow: repression)

We often find ourselves in the thick of an addiction or bad habit before we realize that we’re trying to cope with an overwhelming or difficult emotion. It is a true psychological superpower to be able to face psychological discomfort head on.

We instinctually repress anything that is too difficult for our conscious mind to process, because recognizing an emotion for what it is often hurts too much.

But the magic lies in being able to face an emotion, let it take its natural course of passing through your psyche, which will act in symbiosis with the psychological superpower of psychological lightness.

Equanimous (shadow: triggerable)

Can you have a conversation about a controversial topic (it shouldn’t be hard to think of one given the current political and social climate) without getting emotionally up in arms? Can you discuss something you feel strongly about without getting angry, triggered, upset, or frustrated?

Being able to remain equanimous and even-keeled, open-minded and emotionally stable despite the situation at hand is incredibly powerful. It is also a very rare capability.

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