What Defines You: The Hero or the Shadow? (Part II)

June 1, 2023

When I go to the movies, I notice that there always seems to be a fine line between good and evil in those stories that captivates me.
The Marvel superhero-villain movie franchise has been hugely successful, and I think it’s at least partly because of the way we can all relate to seeing aspects of heroes and villains in ourselves. That struggle between good and evil is a very old story and we all recognize it.

Certainly, when I imagine being eulogized, I dream of my loved ones describing me in terms of my hero persona.
I even gave my hero persona a name, Ironman. Many of my colleagues refer to me by this persona as I recently completed a half-Ironman race, but the Ironman story goes deeper than that for me.

Ironman’s other self, his alter ego, is Tony Stark, an inventor and weapons manufacturer. Tony’s crucible moment is a near death experience, his heart transplant.

This was his seminal moment, when he decided to stop building weapons and instead to support world peace.
He retools his company to manufacture mechanized suits of armor that can be used to defend people working for peace around the world. He sheds the shadow persona and starts living his hero story, becoming a founder of the Avengers.

I can relate to Tony Stark’s story. Although both personas are always in me, I am more energized by the hero persona.

I am not sure if you are like me, but for a period of time, I didn’t think I had control over which persona showed.

Then I was told a wonderful parable that changed my life.

It’s a parable of a wise tribe leader talking to his grandson. He explains that there are two wolves always at battle in each of us.
One wolf represents anger, guilt, shame, deceit, regret, resentment and ego, and the other wolf represents peace, love, joy, humility, kindness, generosity and compassion.

The grandson wisely asks, “Who will win this fight?”

The grandfather replies, “The one you feed.”

See, I was giving way too much energy to my shadow. Once I stopped feeding that wolf, I had more energy to pour into my hero persona. I could be the hero as I define him.

The power that realization gave me still energizes me and motivates me to keep pushing toward those positive aspects of myself and to use them to put more good into the world.

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