Updated: Mar 11, 2021
When my five-year-old old son woke up that morning, he insisted I call him Peter Parker. It was the time in his young life when he was mesmerized by the adventures of Spiderman so I assumed that's why he made the request.
During breakfast, I forgot about his morph into Peter Parker and accidentally called him by his name. He refused to respond or make eye contact. When I asked Peter Parker to take his empty bowl to the sink, he smiled and proceeded to the kitchen.
When he arrived at school and announced to his class and kindergarten teacher that he wanted to be called Peter Parker, the students thought he was funny. His teacher agreed to his name, but on the condition that he morph back into himself before the kindergarten concert that afternoon.
As the concert time approached, parents filled the bleachers in the gym that had become the makeshift auditorium. The music teacher had arranged a variety of noise-makers on the gym floor and was prepared to showcase the songs of the the small voices. We could see the kindergartners wriggle with energy as they stood single-file in the hallway waiting to make their grand entrance.
I could see my son in line. He appeared to be distracted as the music teacher gave the signal to enter. He froze and held up the line. His classroom teacher gave him a nudge and he began to move. As he reached the door of the gym, he dropped to his hands and knees and began to slink across the floor in Spiderman-like fashion. For dramatic effect, he would throw in an arm movement with his fingers spread as if he were shooting webs from his wrist. From my seat on the the bleachers I could hear the snickers from the other students.
When he arrived at the spot where he was supposed to stand, he put his fingers into position and began to shoot imaginary webs at the the bleachers. Some of the parents began to whisper and gave me "the look" that said they were glad this disruption was coming from my child and not theirs. As his parent, I was half mortified, half entertained by the unfolding scene. I was mortified because I wanted my son to respect the wishes of his teacher. I was entertained because he was five and it was hilarious.
He sang some of the songs with his classmates and sat quietly while other students were using the noise-makers. Mostly though, he looked around and randomly shot webs. When the concert ended, the students were free to go with their parents. When my son reached me, I could see he was still in Peter Parker mode. The ride home was quiet except the occasional "shewf" sound of an imaginary web being shot from his wrist.
For the following few days, he answered only to the name of Peter. At bedtime, however, I negotiated with him to be the child he was before the concert. Eventually the Spiderman phase faded into the background and things returned to our normal.
Years later I asked my son to share his thoughts on Peter Parker and the the kindergarten concert. He told me he was terrified to perform in front of a large group and managed this fear by morphing into Peter Parker, a regular kid who had the superpowers of Spiderman. He said he remembered that as the concert drew closer and his anxiety increased, he used his superpowers to conquer it. He said he shot a magic web every time he felt overwhelmed.
Stunned by this new insight and wishing I could take some credit for this brilliance, I sat in awed silence of this creative approach to facing fears. As he noticed the size of his fear, he responded by choosing the superpower needed to face it. If he was a little bit scared, he morphed into Peter Parker. If he became anxious, he slipped into his Spidey suit and scaled tall buildings (in his mind, the gym floor). When he became overwhelmed, he captured his fears in his web.
He has since learned that stage fright is normal and has become comfortable talking to crowds by using his human super powers of wit, intelligence and charm.
I was recently asked to speak in front of a crowd and was feeling anxious and overwhelmed. But the memory of my son's superhero stint reminded me that I have my own super powers. I didn’t morph into Peter Parker, or shoot webs like Spiderman, but I was able to muster the appropriate amount of courage it took to look into the faces of the audience. My super power was preparation, practice and learning to steady my shaky hands.
The key to breaking through your fears is finding the superpower that works for you. Maybe it means morphing into a comic-book hero, or perhaps it is additional preparation and planning; or a combination of both.
Whatever tool it is, the act of intentionally choosing is the real super power. It means that you're afraid and doing it anyway.
Think about a time when you were afraid and took action anyway?
What was your superpower?
Has the superpower changed over time?
What could you do daily to be aware and remind yourself of your many superpowers?
Choice is a Powerful Perspective -- qualities that begin with awareness and move upward toward love.
If you're seeking confidence to face your fear or reach the next level, 1:1 coaching can help. Reach out to schedule your complimentary coaching call to see if it's a good fit.
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