I think the phrase “be your own hero”, much like the phrase “bloom where your planted”, often gets misconstrued. Some people say it and mean that we should be able to stand on our own, and solve our own problems, without ever needing help from anyone else. What I believe it means is that we are ultimately responsible for our own happiness and our own destinies; and that we are more than capable of knowing what we want in life and going for it. The question is whether or not we allow ourselves to see this, and whether or not we know how to even BE our own heroes in the first place.
Recently, I posted this on my Instagram
“We all want to be the hero of our own story. But at some point, something happens in our lives that leads us to believe that we aren’t qualified for the role. So we give our power away, and we look to other people to be heroes for us; to save us. Eventually, hopefully, we can see those events in our lives as a catalyst, and use them to remind ourselves that, despite those bad things that happened, we’re still here. We may not be able to see it right away, but we’re still the hero in our own story. And now we’re even more qualified for this role because of what we’ve been through. Maybe we’re still going through it. If so, know this – there is no hero coming to save you because you don’t need a hero. You ARE the hero!”
I don’t say that no one is coming to save you to upset you, but rather to empower you.
We don’t often give ourselves enough credit for all that we’ve survived up to this point. Every one of us has had events in our lives that have challenged us to our core. And even though we may still be struggling through, we’re still here.
Take a moment and look back through your own life, at all of the things you thought you couldn’t handle. Sure, those things have likely altered you in some way, but you are stronger than you’ve noticed and you are capable of so much more than you allow yourself to believe you are.
Now, whether you believe that just yet or not, there are a few ways that you can start opening your mind to the idea of becoming the hero in your own story.
1) Learn to listen to your intuition, that still small voice, your “gut”.
This quiet voice inside us is leading us to what is best for us. The more we learn to listen to it, and trust it, the closer we’ll be to living authentically….to being our true selves. It takes some practice, but everyone has an intuition and everyone can learn to hear it if they choose to.
2) Be kind to yourself.
Give yourself rest when you need it, food when you need it, and drink water. Allow yourself to play and be silly. Practice self-care in a way that feels right for you – by taking a hot bath, walking in nature, going swimming, zoning out in front of the tv for a bit…or whatever makes you feel cozy, loved, and grounded.
3) Be aware of the thoughts you’re having…about yourself, about others, and in general.
Our thoughts matter. If you don’t think so, consider this – have you ever had a dream (whether you remember it fully or not) that you woke up from and you were sweating, crying, shaking, or upset in some way? That dream is in your mind, but it created physical symptoms. In the same way, when we keep repeating angry, hurtful thoughts to ourselves, it can make us feel much worse physically.
Make it a point to listen in on your own thoughts and shift those repetitive thoughts that are causing you pain. You know the ones – “I’m fat, I’m stupid, I’m ugly, No one likes me, I don’t matter, I’m never enough”.
4) Choose carefully what you put into your mind, into your body, and who you spend your precious time and energy with.
What you put into your mind matters. If you fill it with stressful things (ie. constantly watching the news, scrolling on social media, engaging in internet bullying and drama) you’re going to feel more stressed overall. But if you choose to fill your mind with things that are uplifting, positive, you’re going to be much happier and lighter feeling.
I’m not saying ignore the bad things that are happening, or pretend that everything is always sunshine and rainbows…but more often than not, choose the things that make you smile over those things that drain your energy.
That goes for people too. If you really pay attention, you can feel the difference between hanging out with someone who makes you feel good and someone who brings you down. We’ve all been around someone who just drains us or puts off a bad vibe, even if we aren’t exactly sure why. If you have to be around people like this for some reason, limit your exposure. (This goes for family as well.)
5) Give yourself grace when you make a mistake or take a few steps backwards.
We all mess up from time to time. We’ve all had a bad day and lashed out at someone we love. There have been days, or weeks, or months for all of us, that we wish we could take back or do over entirely.
Instead of getting into a cycle of beating yourself up for this and living in regret, give yourself grace and some extra love. Spending too much time going over and over and over what we said or did wrong isn’t going to do anyone any favors. It isn’t going to fix the situation. If you can go back and apologize, or set things right, do so. If not, mourn the loss and move on. Life’s too short to spend our time belittling ourselves for being human.
6) Learn to ask for help and accept it.
Growing up I loved princess stories. (I’m not ashamed to say that I still do.)
But I don’t think that it always has to be a damsel who is in distress, or a big strong man who comes to save her. I enjoy stories where someone is having a hard time and they need others around them to help them get through. It shows how we are all connected. And it shows how we all need help from time to time.
Because even if you’re the hero, you still get stuck in a hole occasionally and need someone to throw you a rope.
Not asking for help is often precisely what is keeping people from becoming the hero in their own story. They are trying to do it all, to be everything for everyone, and they are just plain exhausted.
How many hero movies have we seen that start out with the hero trying to do everything themselves and ends with them realizing that they couldn’t. (The Incredibles and Buzz Lightyear are two that jump out immediately.)
When we’re trying to do everything ourselves, we end up depleting our energy much more quickly than if we get help from other people. Along with that, we often miss the obvious solutions to our problems, or fail to get the lessons the first time around and have to keep going through things over and over again because we’re so busy and stressed out.
7) Be your wonderful, quirky, weird self.
When we make the effort to be our true selves, whatever that self looks like, we inspire others to do the same. We are the heroes of our own story, because we are using our abilities to make our lives better, but we can also be heroes for other people as well, by using our abilities to make their lives better too.
That’s what’s so beautiful about all of this…we can all be the hero of our own story AND be a hero to someone else at the same time. And we don’t have to do anything major, or be anyone special….we just have to be ourselves and do what we love to do.
With that being said, the path to becoming your own hero isn’t always the easiest one available.
Unfortunately, we still have to be willing to do the inner work along the way. Learning to ask for and accept help, to listen to and trust our intuition, and so much more. Everyone’s journey is different, and no one else can do this work for you. This is part of why I say that no one is coming to save you.
It’s not always easy to figure out who our true self even is. We have so much noise thrown at us from society, our families, and our friends. Everyone has their own ideas about how we’re supposed to be, what we’re supposed to do with our lives, what we’re supposed to look like, and what we’re supposed to believe. It’s hard to break away from that and find your own voice. But it’s possible.
The biggest thing that I’ve found that helps me is spending time away from all of that occasionally. I turn off the tv, mute my phone, stay off of social media, and just spend time doing something that seems fun to me in the moment. Often, it’s something crafty, or spending time with my animals, or going for a walk in nature. It doesn’t have to be anything that’s going to make you money, or even something that make sense to anyone but you. Whatever sparks your interest in that moment, follow it and see where it leads.
It’s in this way that we begin to see little hints of ourselves. What colors we like, what foods, what songs, etc. The picture becomes more complete the more we allow ourselves to do this. And then one day, we look back and we can see that WE are leading our lives. We are living with intention, rather than just bouncing around reacting to what comes along. We see that we have created the life we want for ourselves and are continuing to do so each and every day.
And WE are the heroes of our own story.