The BBC ran an article, The Batman Effect about stars who overcome anxiety and fear before big performances by creating a separate entity or alter ego that embodies assertiveness and confidence.
According to the article, new research supports this idea as a beneficial strategy for allowing us to access the empowered parts of ourselves when we are facing difficult or stressful situations.
A related idea in mindfulness practice is the concept of creating distance between ourselves and fraught situations, so that we are able to think dispassionately. This mindfulness gap separates us from anxiety, fear, anger, and unhelpful feelings that impact our ability to think clearly, act wisely, and behave compassionately towards ourselves and others in the heat of the moment.
The added benefits of distance and objective observation are that we are able to process solutions, devise plans of action, clarify goals, and connect with our coping skills. And most importantly this gap prevents us from reacting.
Normally when life gives us what we don’t want, or doesn’t give us what we do want, we tend to lash out angrily, complain, blame, insult, or become sullen and depressed.
Instead of tightly identifying with ourselves by thinking, “I feel…” or “I think…” this psychological gap allows us to adopt another perspective. We are then better able to manage our feelings, and focus on what’s doable and achievable, and not let our feelings derail us.
By creating distance between ourselves and the current upheaval, we subvert reacting by actively taking control of how we feel, think about, and deal with the issue. We choose the mind state that will be most beneficial for everyone involved.
This shift in perspective is hugely empowering.
In addition to helping us skillfully negotiate challenging encounters, we also gain the opportunity to practice self-compassion (another key component of mindfulness practice). In that mindful space, we can speak to ourselves with the same kindness and encouragement we would use when speaking to a best friend. So the next time, you need to be patient, generous, determined, and focused, speak to yourself using, “You can do this”, “You are capable” instead of “I can do it”
To connect with your more empowered self:
Separating from unhelpful feelings and situations will give you the sense of being in control of yourself and the outcomes you desire.
May you connect to your deeper, empowered self.