Do You Have A SuperHero Complex?

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Are you living life at a break-neck pace, jumping from one activity to the next, without a pause? 

Do you feel obligated to fulfill the unrealistic expectations of others? 

Are you completely physically (and possibly emotionally) worn out, but you just drag on each day because this is “the right thing to do?” 

Is your life consumed with fulfilling the needs of others, but seldom your own needs? 

You my friend, like myself, suffer from a SuperHero complex. We believe that we are made up of superhuman strength, able to fight through any and every life challenge with no break, meet the needs of everyone who needs us at any time, and we often do not know how to say NO or accept the disappointment or criticism of anyone around us.

This could be related to our lack of boundaries, or our long list of responsibilities. It could be related to our lifestyle. Of course, this could also be the cause of circumstances outside of our control. Regardless of the source of our SuperHero complex, it is important to recognize that we are NOT superhuman and DO NOT have the ability to be everything to everyone all the time, including for ourselves.

We are human and have human limits. We get tired, frustrated, angry, and have real emotions. Life gets heavy and hard, a lot. Many days we find ourselves on autopilot, just going through the motions and getting through the day. If asked, we may not even be able to recall our accomplishments for the day because we did so much in one day!

Pick up any comic book, or just watch a Batman, IronMan, or X-Men movie of any type. You will quickly see the fairytale composition of these characters. They have the unlimited strength, ability to be in more than one place at a time, super-senses, and can be everything to everyone they encounter or who needs them. We are not them!

I realized that I suffered from a SuperHero complex when: 

  • I was completely worn out. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and any other aspect of my being was depleted. Just getting dressed in the morning felt like a marathon. Every challenge that came across my day felt like the end of the world, even if I only spilled coffee on my shirt. I would do my best to get some good sleep or even sneak in a nap, and I still felt exhausted. Ultimately, I was not drinking enough water, getting enough personal time, eating properly, or maintaining healthy boundaries with people in my life.
  • I found myself seeking the approval of others, even at the sacrifice of my own peace. Suddenly, if my family and friends didn’t approve of my lifestyle or choices, I felt horrible, even though I knew I was doing the best that I could. I felt the judgment and criticism of others regularly, even if nobody was saying anything negative to me. I wanted everyone around me to be happy and also happy with me. It did not take long to realize that this is unrealistic, and not only unrealistic, but impossible. 
  • I forgot how to say NO. I have always juggled a lot of responsibilities, but it began wearing me down as I started adding even more things to my plate. When I was asked to do anything, even if I did not have time, I agreed. Before long, my NO was non-existent and I felt pressure to do everything that everyone asked me to do. Unfortunately, the pressure I felt was the pressure I created for myself.
  • Despite my current life responsibilities, I felt like I still wasn’t doing enough. When you have a SuperHero complex, you never feel like you are doing enough or are good enough. You can have two jobs, attend school, and have children, but you still feel like you need to do more. You can stay busy every single day of every week, but you still feel bored and unsuccessful. A SuperHero is only satisfied if they are in the midst of “important work” such as jumping into a burning building or saving the world from a huge meteor. I only felt satisfied if I were being pulled in various directions at the same time while feeling completely overwhelmed. It seemed like I was drawn to the dramatics of life. And, to tell the truth, I was.

The SuperHero complex is tough to get rid of. Once we get caught up in being all to everyone all the time and nothing to ourselves, it become quite routine. The only way to break the complex is to go cold turkey, and suffer through the pain of change.

Step back from the chaos of trying to be superhuman. Just stop it.

Begin to identify negative feelings associated with trying to be superhuman, then when you feel those emotions, say NO to that activity or make changes to become uninvolved.

Stop being so hard on yourself and enjoy your life. Each day is a gift.

Remember that you do not have to justify every move or decision your make.

Allow people an opportunity to sort out their own problems, first without our assistance. Often times, they will figure out how to resolve their issues without us. We cannot be so quick to help everyone around us. Of course, if you can help them without sacrificing your peace, this is fine. It’s all about balance.

Here is what I have to continue to remind myself of daily, in order to beat this SuperHero complex: 

  1. I cannot live my best life if I am always worn out.
  2. I will never achieve the approval of everyone around me, no matter how hard I try or how perfect I think my life might be.
  3. Remember that it is OK to say NO, and then say it.
  4. I am good enough, and I do enough, and this is not subject to anyone’s unwanted judgment or criticism.


Life is too short to get caught up in a SuperHero complex.

Let’s leave that to the drama of the movie theater. Thanks SpiderMan.


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