By Mike McMahan, LPC
Recently, Dorkly published this amusing mashup video which shows the havoc that might occur if our favorite iconic video game characters received a power up device from a different game. I think it’s fair to say “all hell would break loose” and that major ass kicking would occur. The video shows what could happen, and it’s funny and awesome.
Most of us don’t have access to fire flowers or other magical items in our everyday lives (If you know where I can get a fire flower, let me know. It might come in handy at work or in 5 o’clock traffic). But I do believe that we can expand the coping tools that we have at our disposal by looking at others we admire and seeing how they do it: that person might be a friend, family member, or Link. OK, maybe not Link.
Think of a person in your life your look up to or admire. You don’t have to believe this person is perfect—after all, who is? They just need to have one or more qualities that you admire or perhaps aspire to have.
In my case, I have a friend who has a seemingly supernatural ability to stay calm, no matter what. I can only think of one occasion where he expressed anger or strongly reacted to a situation. I really admire this, as it helps him respond rationally to tough situations at work and to stay calm with the frustrations that life can sometimes deal in spades. I would like this skill because while I can stay reasonably calm, I am nowhere near as serene as my friend and his Buddha-esque state of relaxation. I think it’s important to choose something that you want to make a marginal improvement with as you initially complete this exercise, as it is easier to make a long-lasting change when the basic building blocks are already present.
So once you’ve chosen a quality you’d like to possess (or in this case, a “power up”) ask yourself the following questions.
I think in the case of my example, I would like to be able to stay calmer with everyday work frustrations. It would be helpful, because when I stay calm, I am able to think more clearly and make better decisions. I think if I stayed calmer, people would trust in my decisions more because they would know they I was always acting with rationality and logic, rather than emotion and frustration. I think that when people have more confidence in my decisions, they will feel more confident themselves in implementing them. In turn, I suspect this would increase my confidence.
Something to consider once you have completed these questions is: what if I acted in the way I want to be seen? For example, in my case, if I acted more confident in decisions, would it help me stay more calm? This may or may not be true, but sometimes we can act in such a way that what we perceive as the end result may help us build the initial skill. While it’s tricky and can be counterintuitive, I know it can work, as I’ve seen it be successful with my clients.
So ask yourself: what is a power up not currently available in my personal video game, and how can I borrow this from someone else’s game?
Mike McMahan, LPC, is a psychotherapist based in San Antonio, Tx.
Therapy Goes POP
Perspectives on therapy and mental health as viewed through the lens of popular culture