Monday, September 6

Heroic Hopes - the hero complex

I don't know about you, but when I'm reading I'll often identify with- imagine myself as - the hero or heroine.
As a kid many dream of being a hero; superheroes, policemen/women, firefighters, soldiers, pilots, doctors, nurses.
Maybe if I study Psychology I'll know why this is, but its like we have this -- almost a built in desire, or need to help. We want to direct others away from danger and toward safety. I guess we all have a little bit of a hero complex.

When I read the "Tomorrow" series, by John Marsden, I wanted to be Ellie. This is in the scenario that war came to Australia like it does in the book. If I were to be anyone in the group I want to be one leading, taking charge and showing the way. If I were shipwrecked on an island I would be the one making teams to search for civilisation and water, prioritising and getting the people organised. At least I hope that would be me.

In situations these heroic hopes have their place and are necessary. But what happens when they [the heroic hopes] are out of place, or go askew?
Professionally {Dr's, nurses, firefighters etc} when the hero syndrome/complex kicks in you see rational people suddenly, secretly making situations which they can then 'find' and be the hero. Its scary, innocent people could be put in harms way.

Personally you can end up taking care of everyone but yourself.
Unbridled hero complexion can be an effort of proof. To you or to others, it can be trying to prove anything, its as individual as each person. The effort to prove will tire you out, perfectionism and stress is heaped upon your life. While your busy taking care of everyone else - who is taking care of you?
You have potential to be and do great things. When that involves leadership be careful to avoid the pitfalls of the hero complex. Desire to be a hero, I don't think is a bad thing. But when that desire consumes all around you, I'd start worrying.
Basically what I'm trying to say, is you don't always have to be the strongest.
For example:

Last week I picked up a bug, Thursday I was dreadfully sick. Thursday is also the day I volunteer as the team leader for the hosts/ushers at my church. Now even though I've woken up feeling terrible, barely have the energy or strength to sit up let alone get out of bed I convince myself that there is no one else who can do what I do. I push myself out of bed, get dressed and head off. Now this morning I had many signals which told me to stay in bed, but I ignored them all. I went ahead and did what do each week, well kind of, I was very slow, very weak and even quieter then usual. As the nausea makes me cry, I sit at the back of the auditorium during the Praise and Worship section with tears flowing down my face. The tears may be falling, but I'm going to stay, because that's my responsibility. Even though numerous friends have told me to go home , I don't listen.
Till finally it gets through. A friend sits beside me, we converse, "why don't you go home. There are a million people here to help. Go home". Finally I go!

And guess what. The sky didn't fall, the meeting didn't fall apart, people weren't lost because I wasn't there. My team took charge, because thats who they are, thats how I've lead them. Others stepped in where they saw the need.
When the hero complex kicks in we are blinded to seeing that there are people around us to help. We are blinded to our own needs.
In our potential we are also able to called, morally required if thats not too strong words, to lift others to their potential. But we can't do that if we are blinded by heroic desires. We become less and less able when we neglect our needs, emotionally, spiritually, physically. Please - don't forget to take care of you, be your own hero.

So to reach your potential, don't forget to keep one eye on your health, one looking out that you don't have blinders sneaking up on you, and one on your goal. [Its the new maths, it all adds up ;)]
You are strong. You do have potential. You are able to fill that potential.

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