Find Your Superpower

Everyone is good at something. Here’s how to unleash your inner Wonder Woman. Cape optional.

| October 8th, 2012
super powers

My coworker is a freak. This coworker, let’s call her Bourtney, has an uncanny memory for ‘80s hair metal song titles, the Flowers in the Attic series (even the ones post-V.C. Andrews’ passing) and obscure sub-plotlines from Full House. I’m telling you, you’ve never seen anything quite like it. 

Reeling in in her awe-inspiring ability to recall subtle nuances in D.J. Tanner’s pantsuit-laden wardrobe, I got to thinking about real life super prowess. Less X-Men, more Molly Ringwald in the Breakfast Club applying lipstick with no hands. Those special talents—a beautiful singing voice or a goofy party trick—that help make you who you are, or shed light on that sliver of your personality that may not get much exposure. I wondered if everyone’s got a superpower and how to harness those skills for good—or just for fun.

QUIZ: What Are Your Strengths?

A Value-Added Proposition
Being great at math, having a scary-good memory or running a four-minute mile are all useful skills in their own rights, but they’re also worth more than face value. “Having something that sets you apart can really benefit your self-concept,” says YouBeauty Psychology Advisor Art Markman, Ph.D. “It helps to define who you are and may also define you in other people’s minds.”

Many struggle at one time or another with who they are, says Markman, and taking some time to think about the things you can do help you get a better grasp on your own potential.

And that, in turn, plays an important part in fostering self-esteem.

MORE: Boosting Your Self-Esteem

In her book “Self-theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development,” Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph.D., writes that self-esteem is “a positive way of experiencing yourself when you are fully engaged and are using your abilities to the utmost in pursuit of something you value.”

That positive perception can spill into other parts of your life. If you’ve got one thing you know you can succeed at, then you know you’re capable of succeeding. So it follows that now you have the confidence to go out into the world and…succeed.

Plus, Markman adds, it always feels good to look around a room and think, “no matter what, I’m better at [insert superpower here] than these people.”

Seeing Your Strengths
If you haven’t identified your superpower yet, keep your eyes open to what other people don’t excel at. “The more time you spend hanging out with other people, the more you realize there are things that come easily to you and not to others. Comparison is fine as long as you’re doing it to understand yourself,” Markman says. 

Ryan Niemiec, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist and the education director at the VIA Institute on Character, which developed the VIA Inventory of Strengths, a free online survey to help people identify their character strengths. VIA lists 24 character strengths, culled from research that shows that certain virtues are shared by all cultures worldwide. The list includes honesty, creativity, judgment, bravery, curiosity, humility, social intelligence, forgiveness, humor and love.

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