Shout Out Your Superpowers and Their Origins; It’s No Longer Taboo

By Melissa Brown, MD

Christiane Schroeter

Superpowers aren’t just for fictional superheroes!

In 2023, I was interviewed for the Happy Healthy Hustle podcast hosted by Christiane Schroeter. Christiane asked me three questions, one of which was, “What is your superpower?”

Have you ever considered how you would answer such a question: what is your superpower?

We all have superpowers, whether you recognize them or not!

Women, especially those of a certain age, have been taught to keep quiet about their gifts and talents. Talking positively about superpowers might be seen in the same light as bragging. And bragging is considered the same as ‘tooting your own horn,’ ‘being too big for your britches,’ ‘conceited,’ or ‘boastful.’ All of those synonyms or phrases are viewed as negative.

With her book Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self-Promotion, Meredith Fineman is on a mission to change how we look at that word and help women brag better. Specifically, for women to begin bragging better about their accomplishments, talents, and skills. As far as I’m concerned, that includes bragging about your superpowers.

Shout out your superpowers. It’s no longer taboo to talk about them.

It’s not taboo to shout about your superpowers and reveal them to others, especially if that super skill will help others on their journey in life.

Sometimes, but not always, that superpower may have been honed by negative influences from your past. For example, a child who experiences a profound loss early in life and is then raised by an elderly relative may develop the ability to anticipate what another person needs to feel comfortable, especially a senior. This empathetic superpower can be called upon in many situations, especially service-based industry roles, and it can lead to success in that type of career.

I recently thought about my own superpowers and how they developed from experiences in my past. I want to share them here with you to get you started thinking about your own superpower origins. Once you identify yours, shout them out! It’s no longer taboo to keep those superpowers hidden. Let the world know about them.

Here are my top three superpowers, along with my belief about where these originated from in my past.

I listen between the spoken words!

Woman with glasses smiling widely, hand cupped behind her ear as if listening intently, isolated on a white background.

I am an active listener, which means I can hear what’s being said and what’s not being said. I like to think of it as listening between the words, which is similar to the visual equivalent of reading between the lines.

Intuitive origins.

This superpower comes partly from intuition, a form of knowledge that appears in one’s consciousness without obvious reasoning.

It’s knowing something without knowing how you know it.

Sometimes, thoughts pop into my mind while I listen to what someone is saying. When I check in with them about these thoughts, I’m often surprised with how accurate they are or how positively they’re received.

Where did those ideas or thoughts come from? Your guess is as good as mine. I prefer to think of that as the intuition part of my listening superpower.

Reading nonverbal communication.

Part of my superpower comes from observing nonverbal communication. I’ve always been interested in body language and reading people. One of my favorite pastimes is people-watching, observing people interact with others and their environment. No matter where I am, I’m always aware of the interactions of others around me—how they communicate with each other if they’re together and how they communicate with others they encounter randomly.

I think I’ve always had this superpower–to listen actively. This was so needed during my years of pediatric practice, listening to parents share about their child’s development, symptoms, and behaviors. For the decades I worked as a pediatrician, this skill improved more and more as I used it on a daily basis.

Listen to hear vs. listen to respond.

Most people listen to respond, and I sometimes still fight this urge. It takes discipline to listen to what’s spoken, simultaneously taking in the unspoken words, the body language, the nuance of how something is said, and the particular words that are chosen to convey something. You miss all those exciting communication clues when you merely listen to respond.

Active listening, listening between the lines, helps me in my role as a coach. I often explain to clients that I need to take notes to process what they’re saying. This allows me to slow down my mind and listen to what’s important enough to jot down. I can then refer back to my notes along with thoughts that came to me as the client spoke. This helps me to check in with the client to gauge the accuracy of what I heard and either validate or correct it. I know this superpower makes me a much more effective coach.

I am a people connector.

Two hands holding jigsaw puzzle pieces aligning to connect against a sunset background.

I have a large network of people from many different aspects of my life. I meet folks and grow my network constantly. I love being the connector and pairing people together when I get an inkling that there might be synergy between them.

I often find the ‘perfect’ common denomination between people that leads to a successful collaboration. In another era, I laugh that I would have made the best matchmaker, a marriage broker!

People connection origins.

I feel this superpower also came from years of working in pediatrics, where it was my business to know the best specialists to refer my patients to when the need arose for specialized treatments. I always knew the best people and kept tabs on how my patients were cared for and only connected them to the best.

It’s always helpful to others when you can connect them with someone who can help them solve a problem or improve their lives. For this reason, I feel like the results of tapping into this superpower will never get old or stale. Expanding my network so I connect and get to know new groups of people just keeps improving this superpower for me.

I am a relentless cheerleader.

An illuminated stage with spotlights and a red carpet leading to a circular podium on an amber background.

I am much more likely to spotlight others and help them shine than to step into the spotlight myself. I encourage, cheer on, and advocate fiercely for others to claim their fame.

Similar to my superpower ability to listen between words, I can read the room and intuitively know who is avoiding claiming their superpowers. I think this is another intuitive gift I have and it helps me identify those who are deserving and need to be seen and heard.

Cheerleader origins.

It’s important to me to be sure everyone is taken care of and has their needs met. I think this partially comes from being the oldest girl and the middle child between an older brother and a younger sister.

One other influence that helped develop this skill was my maternal grandmother who I saw almost every day growing up. A lasting lesson she taught me was how to meet strangers and discover something about them that could be complimented. She always said you could attract more bees (or was it flies?🤔) with honey than with vinegar. To me, this meant leaving my sour attitude at home and putting on my cheerleader outfit to make more acquaintances and turn them into friends.

In my role as a coach, this superpower is very much appreciated by my clients. I love putting the spotlight on them and their accomplishments. It’s so easy to brush off the good things and not spend the time to savor those moments, whether it’s the small wins or the big ones. I’ll shout you out and make sure you’re stepping into the spotlight to claim your due applause!

What’s your Kryptonite, your weakness?

Every superhero has a weakness. For Superman, it’s Kryptonite. For Batman, it’s physical trauma since he has a human body. Bullets, knives, poisons, fire—anything that can traumatize human flesh will hurt Batman. For The Incredible Hulk, it’s cosmic rays.

My Kryptonite is found where there’s conflict.

If I had to identify my Kryptonite, I believe that must be conflict.  Sometimes known in relationships as ‘drama,’ I detest when there is conflict or drama. It causes me to stress and then to shrink.

Until I recognized this as my Kryptonite, I would do almost anything to avoid conflict. That didn’t always end well, since there’s an old saying, ‘what you resist, persists.’

People-pleasing is a way of avoiding conflict, but that just leads to stress, physical symptoms, and more conflict—the internal kind!

My Kryptonite-antidote.

Having recognized this Kryptonite trigger, I am now on the alert for it. Kryptonite conflict doesn’t have to be avoided completely anymore when I ask myself what I really want and identify what is a non-negotiable. Reframing my stand for what I want and need weakens the power of this Kryptonite for me, and over time, it’s having less and less effect.

Now it’s your turn to claim your own superpowers and their origins.

It’s your turn! What are your superpowers, and where do you think they originated? I’d love to know what amazing super skills you possess—remember, I’m the connector and the cheerleader!

It’s not taboo to announce what makes you special. Your superpowers need to be celebrated! Once I know what’s your X-factor that makes you a superhero, I would love to connect you with others who need that super sauce. I would love to shout you out to the masses, too, and cheer you on for all your efforts.

Leave a comment about your superpowers and their origins. Who would be an awesome connection for you that would rock your world? Let’s join forces with our superpowers and make this world a better place for everyone.

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About the author

Dr. Melissa Brown's career journey has always had an element of teaching. After retirement from clinical pediatric practice, Dr. Brown has taught and mentored as a healthy lifestyle coach, author, and speaker. She currently teaches solopreneurs and coaches how to stop being the world's best-kept secret. Her mission is to help you: Create great content. Impact people. Change the world.

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