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Uncover Secret Superpowers

August 1, 2023

Note From Rochelle

Dear writers,

I have a brand new class for you! In Write a Book, Change Your Life, we’ll examine how writing a book can change your life. From making you healthier (that’s true!) to helping you build and promote a business, writing a book can support you in many tangible ways. In this webinar, I’ll teach you how writing a book can add concrete value to your life. Sign up here:

Today’s tip is an excerpt from my book, Level Up. It will help you access and uncover your secret superpowers. And who doesn’t need those?

Happy writing,

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

Uncover Secret Superpowers

Did you know, you were born as the first, and the last and the best and the only one of your kind, and that eccentricity is the first sign of giftedness? These are two of the crone truths I have to offer you.

– Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Author and Jungian psychoanalyst Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes says that we can find our giftedness—our secret superpowers—inside our eccentricities. Often people criticize us for the very thing that makes us unique and exceptional. She encourages people to list everything they’ve been ridiculed or criticized for—and then look for the gift hiding under it.

When I did the exercise, I remembered something a colleague said to me in grad school, “It’s not that you lack intelligence. It’s just that you’re not serious enough.” At the time, I felt criticized and hurt. I ranted in my head: What did she mean by not serious enough? I’ll show her. I can be just as serious as the rest of them. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not hide or lose my sense of humor.

Perhaps that classmate was offering constructive criticism, but at the time I heard it as pure judgment. Years later, I can see my strengths inside her critique: You are playful. You are funny. Keep that at the heart of your work. When I’m stuck with writing, I can always write forward by using my secret superpower: my sense of humor.

In this quest, you’ll mine uncomfortable experiences for signs of your brilliance. But the payoff–secret superpowers–well, that’s a priceless one!

The Quest

As humans, we tend to remember the negative messages and experiences more easily than we recall the kind words people say. We might even dismiss their words as a fluke. This is called the negativity bias or negativity effect. Ruminating on these negative experiences can cause us to feel bad about ourselves.

In this quest, we’ll be recalling some of these messages but for a better purpose. Instead of perseverating on the criticisms we’ve received and beating up on ourselves for our faults, we will be looking at these critiques for signs of our brilliance. That doesn’t mean this task will be easy. When we review our difficult past experiences, we feel them all over again. But remember: this quest is about naming and claiming who you are. No one else gets to define you.

Take a deep breath. Start by recording the criticisms you’ve received. Then list the eccentricities that your coworkers, friends, and family complain about. These might come up when someone is reviewing your work. It could also be something you criticize yourself for. Jot down anything that others have said or you’ve thought. Note the stories people tell about you that annoy you.

Once you have a list of criticisms, dig underneath each one to find the hints of your genius or secret superpower that lurks inside each eccentricity. Here are some examples:

  • When one of my clients finds a bruise or gets a cold, she worries about all the exotic ailments she could have. I believe her worrying is just one manifestation of her brilliant imagination.
  • A student of mine has a habit of trying to negotiate deals instead of doing his work. When he heard about a local poetry contest, he proposed, “If you help me write a great poem, I will share my winnings with you. Like a tip.” I see this as a sign of his creativity.
  • I’ve heard people criticize professional writers for taking an assignment for one outlet, revising or recasting it, and then selling it to other publications. But this is genius! Much like cooks who don’t waste any part of a chicken, these writers use their leftover information for more articles and earn more money.

Game Play Tips

  • Look at personal habits that others might find annoying or endearing. For example, I like to chat with strangers. My children get irritated by this habit, but it comes in handy when I need to interview someone for an article.
  • If you have difficulty remembering your eccentricities, ask a close friend or family member to offer ideas. (It will take some bravery, it’s not easy to hear what other people find challenging about us—but go for it. You just might discover that you are beloved for your kookiness.)
  • Consider the traits your inner critic pounces on you for. Is it possible that these are actually superpowers?

For the Win

This might be a difficult quest. But once you’ve learned to look at criticisms for signs of your brilliance, you’ll see all future negative messages in a new light. And of course, now that you know your secret super powers, you can use them to overcome fear, doubt, and writer’s block and finish your writing projects!

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