Why it's what's under the suit that counts. Lessons from Iron Man
In the trailer for ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’, ‘spider boy’ – You can tell I wasn’t paying attention in the beginning because I have no idea what his name is… messes something up, millions of people could have been killed, but aren’t – you know, the usual superhero learning lesson scenario. Tony Stark aka Iron Man takes away, *gasp*, his spider suit! To which spider boy replies, ‘but I’m nothing without the suit’. I love these moments when my working life as a Coach collides with my trashy downtime. Suddenly I’m paying close attention because Iron Man – okay, Tony (If I had a choice between being called Iron Man or Tony I’d go Iron Man – but I’m drifting) says, ‘if you are nothing without the suit, you shouldn’t be wearing it’. This is so important that I’m going to repeat it. ‘if you are nothing without the suit you shouldn’t be wearing it’.
This is from a man who has several different suits that do a multitude of world saving things and seem to protect him from any infliction even by other god like figures. Yet it seems he is saying that the suit isn’t the protection, we, need to be good enough. This is such a huge example of the work I do with my coaching and cognitive hypnotherapy clients as we are always working towards them being enough, no matter what 'suit' is on the outside and here was Iron Man technically coaching!
Let’s bring this into reality. Most of us ‘put on’ a suit when we get up. I don’t mean a literal suit, although for many this will be the case. I mean we put on a form of covering, whether it’s clothes, make up, a job title or even an emotional mask that covers who we truly are. Some people spend hours in front of the mirror gelling every hair into a certain place, others masking their sexuality and gender preferences and many, many others who simply step into a completely different personality so the world never knows who they are underneath. ( I love seeing these hidden parts start to reveal themselves with my coaching and cognitive hypnotherapy clients as we progress) What are we afraid of? What is spider boy afraid of? Having not seen the film yet, I can’t know, but my guess is that he/we are afraid of being seen as who we truly are – ourselves.
If you accept my hypothesis that this is true, we are afraid of ourselves, or even a part of ourselves that we don’t like, what has led us to this? We aren’t born this way, we are born open and loving and free of hiding our emotions. What changes? As we grow, society and those around us, even those who love us dearly, place on us expectations of behaviour and measures of self- belief, often ones they too have picked up from others. As we grow up we begin to feel we aren’t living up to those expectations, whether we are conscious of them or not. Then we unconsciously and even sometimes, consciously, we begin to create the ‘suits’ we hide behind.
Think of how many superheros hide behind masks, even Clark Kent had his glasses, for our face gives away our true emotions and identity. For some those masks are very physical, suits for work, uniforms, hiding statuses and possessions and even our sexuality or gender. For others and equally if not more damaging, we create a persona that we believe fits what others want, we walk the walk. The problem is if you do this for too long, the brain, which does not see the difference between fact and fiction, forgets which part was us in the first place and that which we ‘put on’ to please others and all you are left with is a sense of discomfort and a sense you aren’t truly happy, no matter what success you have. This is when I get clients for Coaching and Cognitive hypnotherapy, they don't know who they are.
My question to you is, what is it that makes the suit you choose so much better than who you are underneath?
Pause, take a moment to reflect on that.
What does wearing an actual suit, being life and soul of the party, make up, gender or whatever your chosen mask is, actually represent to you?
And what do you think it represents to others?
Why is hiding your thoughts and not saying what you want to say preferable to speaking up? The unconscious tricks us by projecting us into the future and predicting a negative outcome. Because of this entirely made up scenario, we shut off ourselves and become what we THINK other’s want us to be. Disagreements are made entirely of these convoluted guesses. We live in a society which judges people so openly, Facebook, Instagram etc., all these platforms where your humiliation does not stay in the room, but is broadcast to the world and often out of context. Is it any wonder we’d all like to be hiding incognito behind a mask? The problem is that by living this fake life, we stifle who we really are, our values and life desires crushed into pretence and when this happens we can get very unhappy even suicidal. I often work with coaching clients who have a general sense of things being wrong, it takes just a few sessions for us to identify the true hidden them and bring them out once more so they can live as themselves. Once they are back on this path, happiness follows.
Back to Tony’s words, ‘if you are nothing without the suit you shouldn’t be wearing it’. So true. The first place to look for yourself, is inside. I believe that everyone has a cool calm core inside them that no matter what is happening in their lives, they can access it, it doesn’t appear according to fame or fortune, but exists in us all from birth until death. If you find this, nurture it and run your life from that place, the place where you know you’re making good, strong decisions. Decisions for you and no one else, then and only then do you get to put on the ‘suit’ because you CHOOSE to and because you are still present underneath. Because Iron Man’s secret, the secret of the suit, is that it’s nothing without you in it.
If you would like to find the you under your suit, get in touch for a discussion about how we can create this together.