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What Exactly Is An Alter Ego?
Sure, we’ve all heard the term a million times, but have we really sat down and thought about the concept?
According to Merriam-Webster, an alter ego is a different version of oneself – or, alternatively, the opposite side of one’s personality.
That’s pretty sound, but it’s only the start of what an alter ego really means.
As I’ve traveled through life, I’ve begun to recognize the real power behind the idea of an alter ego. Join me in a thought experiment…
Why Are We So Enamored With Superheroes?
Is it the powers? The fancy costumes? The gadgets, gizmos and grapple hooks? Possibly that explains it for the younger crowd, but for adults, I think it goes deeper.
A good superhero – one that can engage instead of just briefly entertain – resonates with our reality in some way. Not because of their invisibility, or super strength, or inexplicable expertise with a ninja star; but because of their story.
Superheroes struggle, even though it seems like they’re invulnerable. They face traumas, life-changing experiences, and even relationship woes.
They become an inspiration because we can identify. We look at how these imperfect heroes cope with adversity. We watch them bounce back, stronger from the experience of being knocked down, and we think: “Huh. Maybe I can do that, too.”
Your Very Own Superhero Alter Ego
Imagine if you starred in your own superhero story.
How would it read? How would you like to be depicted?
What areas of difficulty in your life have you overcome (your origin story) – and which are still there to tackle (upcoming episodes)?
Which strengths can you discover to create a better life for you and those you love?
Finally, what if, outside the bounds of this story, you actually learned to use your very own alter ego as a tool to become the superhero of your own life? What if you developed the character traits that you desire, and learned to make them a part of your personality?
I believe you can do this – because I’m doing it right now.
My Superhero Alter Ego
It’s a bird? It’s a plane? No, it’s scary real-life situations and a realistic way to master them!
(Okay, so that didn’t really flow the way I expected, but you catch my drift.)
Ahem… meet Zani! She’s my badass superhero alter ego.
Whenever disaster strikes (or seems like it might), she’s there.
Big business opportunity? Public speaking engagement? Drawing a line under disrespectful treatment from someone who needs telling off? I call on Zani.
She’s the personified power of my inner me: the strength, the confidence, the courage. When I feel myself shrinking, or curling up small, Zani points to the S emblazoned on my chest and helps me overcome my fears.
In my life, like in all women’s, my challenges aren’t isolated to one area. Business is a big part of my life, sure, but Zani strives to exemplify excellence within all my shifting identities – woman, entrepreneur, wife, mother, and many more – and helps me to knit them together.
Sometimes, I feel lacking in the qualities I value. I don’t display discipline; I fall short of saint-like patience; I find it difficult to forgive. In these circumstances, too, I call on Zani to keep me grounded.
Is Fear Of Judgment Keeping You Down?
As we’re being transparent, allow me to go deeper still. Are you often limited by the fear of what other people think? If so, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
For most of my life, the fear of people “judging me” kept me imprisoned. It stopped me from reaching my full potential; from experiencing life on the level I was meant to experience it.
These days, when I feel myself starting to value another person’s opinion of myself over my own or start flinching from the fear of rejection, Zani speaks up:
“Nope! Not Today! We don’t let other people’s opinions control us.
“We aren’t anybody’s slave, not even fear’s, and we will certainly never allow a disease-to-please to distract us from our purpose.
“We are POWERFUL. We are BRILLIANT. We are GAME CHANGERS.
“So, push through it!”
See what I’m talking about? She cold with it. Absolute badass!
She is my shero, my #WCW… or, better still, my #WCE (Women Crush Everyday).
So, now that I’ve shared ways in which my superhero alter ego helps me, let’s talk about some of the other parts of life that can be revitalized and strengthened with your own alter ego.
Keys to Confidence: 6 Ways Your Alter Ego Will Give You Strength
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Your alter ego will disrupt stagnancy, mundanity, and safety. She will barge in and make you try new things, take bigger risks, shed the shell of ‘sameness’.
Mediocrity is not your friend. You’re better than that. Challenging yourself will force you to tap into wells of power and potential that have lain dormant all your life.
Motivation is great when it shows up, but it’s not a reliable companion. Your alter ego will help you discover something far less fickle: self-discipline.
Discipline is what will compel you to act. Working out regularly, cultivating punctuality, hustling your entrepreneurial efforts – all these are achieved through discipline.
This willpower and self-control will improve inner strength, confidence and a consistency that will improve all areas of your life. Your alter ego will help you focus your concentration, increasing your chances of success.
Transform Your Narrative
Self-doubt deprives us of fulfillment. Negative self-talk has consequences, and your own mind is very persuasive. Don’t allow your inner narrative to give you self-limiting beliefs that stop you from reaching your full potential.
I’m speaking from experience. Habit had me minimizing successes throughout most my life. I wouldn’t give myself credit for tremendous effort or impressive accomplishment, either in life or business.
People would praise me for completing first my undergrad and then grad school while keeping up a strong marriage and kids. Or they might applaud my creative work or my distinctive marketing strategies.
In return, my response would be: “I was just doing what I was supposed to do,” or, “Anyone could do it.”
I soon found out- that kind of thing is annoying to others (Damn Gina! Learn how to take a compliment) and unhelpful to the pursuit of positive thinking. We must learn, with the help of our alter ego, to celebrate ourselves; to take notice of our victories, no matter how small. Without a doubt, she can help you harness the power of optimism. Speaking of which…
It’s time to embrace self-love. One of the greatest benefits of your alter ego is that she will incessantly remind you of your own fierceness.
She will challenge the pessimistic inner narrative – don’t you dare speak to yourself like that!
She’ll teach you to appreciate all of you: the imperfections and beauty; the achievements and shortcomings. She will make decisions that help you feel good about yourself and discover your purpose.
You are amazing! There is nobody else on this earth who is like you. That is your superpower, so don’t waste your energy comparing yourself to anyone else.
Paint a Positive Self-Portrait
Your self-image and self-esteem aren’t unnecessary vanities. They’re vital to self-actualization.
Along with a daily dose of positive inner narrative, you should aim to curate an image of your best self. Fear of ego keeps many of us back, but false modesty is no better than arrogance. Take the best parts of yourself and examine them with pride.
Your alter ego will elevate your feelings of self-worth by requiring that you level up. You will strive for your optimum: emotionally, physically and mentally. She will encourage you, through repetition and discipline, to look, feel and act like the superhero that you are.
Be Unapologetically YOU
Pressure to be something comes from all directions: our peers, our teachers, TV, and film – not to mention the ever-present specter of social media…
It can be hard, in all that noise, to find the confidence to be yourself. Instead, you can find yourself trying to be three people at once as you dance between different people’s ideas of your best self. Spoiler alert: it never ends well.
The disease-to-please traps many of us, but it will be suffocated by your superhero alter ego. She will give you the courage to be you, with no guilt, regret or shame attached. She will teach you to ask for what you want (not what you think you ought to want), say no (and mean it), and remove any hint of the need to change yourself to please others.
The more you unapologetically say “no”, when you need to; and “yes”, when you want to, the more confident you will feel.
The Wrap Up
Now you’re all set!
It’s time to bring your Superhero Alter Ego to life through action.
When in doubt, ask your alter ego what she would do about your situation. There is someone in this world that needs something only you can give – but it will never manifest if you don’t live your best self. Rock the world with an S on your chest, and don’t be afraid to show everyone what you’re working with.
Take responsibility for your life and realize your potential, by any means necessary.
Honor your alter ego. Respect them. Above all else, remember that you are one. You are your own superhero. She is every bit the woman you already are, so let her shine.
You are worthy. You are capable. You are enough.
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