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Crouching Shadow, Hidden Superpower

“I always joke that I have OCD, but the doctor looked me in the eyes and said, ‘No, you really do have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.'”

My friend and I were on the phone, while I trimmed brussel sprouts in my kitchen. I paused for a beat to breathe in her diagnosis, listening more intently.

She continued: “I don’t know what to do, though. My obsessiveness makes me who I am. It’s what makes me good at my job – attention to detail and ability to map things out. I feel like it’s unhealthy and I’m supposed to somehow get rid of it, but I don’t even know who I am or how to be without it.”

I love my friend and could feel how lost she felt in that moment, watching this identity being packed up and put in a shipping container to be sent far, far away.  Still, there was something I knew to be true…

A diagnosis is an opportunity to see ourselves as whole.

“You have an incredible superpower for planning, systems and details.  I’ve seen you express that and it’s amazing to watch.  Is it okay if I share something with you?”   “Yes, please”, she said.

“The times when I’ve seen you feeling most alive, most in your element, most excited, are the times when I’ve seen you geeking-out on something.  They’re the times when you have the time and space to explore something from every angle.  I see you curious, inspired and creative, and I feel an ease and spaciousness in you.

The times when I’ve seen you feeling most stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed are the times when I’ve seen you obsessing over something.  I see that happen when you’re down-to-the-wire, feeling behind or off-track.”

YES.

The shadow of obsession was hiding her incredible superpower for geeking-out.

Behind every shadow, there’s a hidden superpower. {tweet it}

For the rest of our conversation, we explored how she might stand more fully in her superpower – structures, conditions, conversations, rituals, in-the-moment energetic shifts and shifts in perspective, that would support her movement towards the feeling of geeking-out.

When we see ourselves as broken because of our shadows, we waste energy trying to fix what’s broken.  

When we embrace the shadow and see the superpower hiding behind it, we can move towards an expanded state with more ease and grace.  We recognize our innate wholeness and can channel our energy into the superpowers that support our thriving and bring our great gifts into the world.  

If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have one or two or ten ways of being that don’t support us in being fully-alive, fully-expressed, fully-free.

We default into jealousy, rage, passive-aggressiveness, indifference, insecurity, obsession.

When we leave those disempowering ways of being unnoticed or unchecked, we’re disconnected and unfulfilled. When we make those ways of being mean that we’re broken, we again miss the opportunity for connection and fulfillment.

Instead, we must acknowledge those disempowering shadows, explore the superpowers on the other side, and lean– over and over, with focus and intention, even when it’s hard – into those superpowers.

Our shadows are whispering our great gifts to us.

I invite you to take a moment here…
* With one hand on your heart and one on your belly, notice a disempowering default way of being.
* Now, be curious about the superpower that lives on the other side of that coin – a way of being that has you feeling bright, connected, alive.
* Take note of what structures, conditions, conversations, rituals, in-the-moment energetic shifts and shifts in perspective, would support your movement towards that superpower.

In the comments below, share your shadow, your superpower, and what will support you in moving through life from that superpower.  Can’t find your superpower?  Post your shadow and we’ll jam…

23 Comments

  1. Nailed it! Wow, really good encapsulation and explanation. Couldn’t have created a more relevant and poignant title too!

  2. I was just let go from my W2 – part-time job without any reason or explanation. And I worked my a** off, as I usually do. I too have a superpower for planning, systems and deets. While I’m working on my business, I was happy to have that job which paid the bills for the most part. As life hits me in the face, I have to look deep within to let myself know that I will be ok and to trust this journey that I’m on. Afterall, that’s what I tell my clients. I would love to hear about rituals that others do to support the superpower within them. I tend to crave the outdoors, even more so now. I’ve hiked almost daily since the ‘boot out the door’ and I feel cleansed with a new energy as well as a clearer head. Nature is magical.

    • Sending you so much love as you make this transition, Barbara.
      Times of great change can bring great gifts.

      xo
      Nisha

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this perspective Nisha. It is a wonderous revelation and so valuable to read this and make it applicabe for me.

  4. My shadow is diagnosed Major Depressive Disorder, but I can’t for the life of me (literally), see the superpower behind it. Have you seen this before and can point me to what the superpower might be? Thanks so much,

    • Issa, if you don’t mind me saying — I bet you anything that the way you see things, and the way you are able to relate to others because of your depth of feeling and empathy (which is absolutely wrapped up in MDD, as I’m sure you know of course!) is something that others can derive great great benefit from. Think of how you best show up in the world, and then see how MDD serves that, and I bet you anything you’ll see the silver lining xxx

    • Issa love,

      Thank you for your courage in sharing this.
      I am not familiar with the distinction between
      MDD and clinical depression, but I’d love to
      explore with you…

      Can you share with me – do you feel naturally
      sensitive? If so, do you feel a gift connected
      to that sensitivity?

      Let me know if this resonates as a jumping off
      point, and we’ll go from there…

      Much love,
      Nisha

  5. I realized that I often have a tendency to just get quiet and observe conversations in fear of worrying what I’ll say or what people will think. When really, one of my favorite things to do is to have deep and meaningful conversations with people about their lives and things that matter to them. I get so into these conversations and so juiced up afterwards. But I usually reserve them for only really close friends or family that I know won’t judge what I have to say.

    • Thank you so much for this share, Julia love.
      I’ve had a similar internal narrative, and
      for me, it’s been helpful to just notice
      when I’m running the “I’m not smart” narrative,
      so I can just listen and connect, without holding
      back.

      Loving you!
      Nisha

  6. I like this perspective, Nisha. I’d say my shadow is that I get worried and anxious easily and I can get stuck on / in what’s wrong and not working & in my hurt. I’d say my superpower i care and love tremendously just want things right and well with myself and in the world. & when I’m loyal and care and committed, that’s it. Love to hear your thoughts too!

    • Love that, Awo. Thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate you so much!

      xo
      Nisha

  7. My shadow is I get insecure and rather jealous of other women. Only if my man is around. It’s a fear that he may like them better then me. I hold these women up like they are amazing and the best ever, and I see all my faults. I guess the super power would be my ability to see greatness in others. Also a sensitivity to energy and environment. A ritual I’d like to create is turning that ability to see greatness onto myself instead of seeing my weakness. Any thoughts you have about this would be awesome Nisha! Thanks for this post, it really helped me to see another side of something I struggle with.

    • Lisa, thank you for this vulnerable, courageous share!
      You are so not alone in this experience.

      It feels like you’ve nailed the superpower. Brava.

      One thing to do would be to simply notice it as it’s
      happening, with a gentle “Oh, I’m doing that thing again!”
      From there, you can recognize how sweet it is that you
      see beauty in them, and turn that reflection inwards
      as well.

      You’ve got this. I believe in you…

      xo
      Nisha

  8. Hi Nisha, I like the metaphor of a coin with our shadows on one side and superpowers on the other. It shows that our shadows are not ‘bad’, but a complimentary part of our superpower. Since I was young I have been very introverted, which I considered a negative trait. But now, I see that my introverted self (shadow) makes me a great listener and highly sensitive to energies and unspoken emotions (superpower). Thanks for the post!

    • Mmm, love that Amy! Great metaphor.

      Much love to you,
      Nisha

  9. AMAZING explanation! I have been feeling like I’m dragging my feet lately, energetically depleted by continually trying to get this business off the ground and not really getting anywhere. Doing this activity made me realize that a) I’m sensitive, and though it makes it harder on me when things aren’t going perfectly, it means I am genuinely compassionate and in tune with others and b) that I care, I truly want to help and give to those I want to work with and financially so I can be there on a much more impactful level for those I love. I feel better already. xo

    • Hilary, thank you so much for sharing yourself here. When we find the superpower in there, a whole world of energy becomes available to us!

      Thanks for connecting here.

      xo
      Nisha

  10. Hi Nisha, I found your post, and your site so far, brimming with energy. I love the use of your words and the way you explain the concepts. And most of all, I am so impressed with how real you are and how solid your voice is. I’m a bloke so I won’t put my hand up for sisterhood rights just yet, I’m really happy to have been shown your site c/0 Ramit Sethi. The world needs people like you who shape lives. Awesome. Thanks. Rob Shearwood

    • Rob, thank you so kindly! Your words are music to my ears.
      And I always appreciate it when a guy chimes in 🙂

      Take care, and enjoy Ramit’s course. He’s amazing!

      Warmly,
      Nisha

  11. My super power is love. I carry it around in a full bucket. Sometimes to my detriment. I am a medical massage therapist and I work from a place deep within myself. I love all day long, sometimes never really taking the time to receive. In my relationships with people, at times I give too many chances based on hope and love, at times I’m very disappointed. I will not change who I am, I will not allow people or events to change or diminish what I carry inside. I just recognize that there will always be an eb and flow. Love and the ability to hold on to it in my heart even through all lifes tribulations, that is my super power.

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