Some of the greatest and most famous personalities have created an alter ego. These alternative personalities give them (us?) permission to act in ways which ‘we’ never would have otherwise; They’re the personification of all the qualities we wish we possessed. Beyonce created Sasha Fierce to combat stage fright and give a voice to a more powerful, confident version of herself. Garth Brooks created Chris Gaines to let him play with his musical styling without alienating fans, and David Bowie birthed Ziggy Stardust because… well, because there was just too much awesome for one person. Clearly.
A question popped into my mind: Why do we rely on secondary personalities to empower us? Why are we not adapting our own personalities to embody the qualities we desire, and offering the less-desirable qualities to the secondary ‘us’? Clearly, if we’re capable of developing and displaying these qualities for our alter-egos, we can surely do the same for ourselves. It dawned on me that people are very satisfied to settle on a sub-standard version of themselves. We dream of and orchestrate these fantastically bold characters thinking that this is our only option in expressing anything other than what people have come to be familiar with. We limit ourselves to mediocrity and normalcy, in fear of what people would do and say and think. Today I’d like to challenge you to think about which qualities you’d assign to your alter ego and take one of them on yourself.
Wish you had the ability to rock out on Karaoke night? Want to flirt shamelessly with that great-looking guy who waits at your bus stop? Want to boldly ask your boss for that much-deserved raise? Channel that fierce and fearless spirit and let it lead you! Step outside of your own limits and see what the results can be!
“But what if _____?” “But if it doesn’t work then _____.” “What if I _____ wrong?”
This reserved, fearful person should be your alter ego. She’s a natural part of most of us, and she’s the one who keeps us thinking rationally and being responsible. The problem arises when she takes over our creative, imaginative side in a way that limits our potential. So I gave her a name and made her my alter ego. Her name is Gretchen. I kind of wish I had given her an uglier name, the name Gretchen is kind of cute in a quirky way, plus I’m totally that girl who’s seen Mean Girls enough to have it memorized, and she’s become my favorite character. My hair is full of secrets too.
My Gretchen pops up every so often. She puts doubts in my mind, and suggests I take the easy road. Giving Gretchen a name and an identity makes it easy for us to recognize these negative patterns which we perpetuate, and call ourselves (or Gretchen) on it. By isolating these particular instances, we recognize them, rather than allowing them to blend with more positive traits and lower our expectations of ourselves. Doubt, hesitance, fear, resentment, are all traits which can be assigned to your alter ego, and stored away for when they’re needed to help you develop your strengths. And, even then, while their opinions would be considered, they certainly won’t be the decision maker any longer.
As a holiday gift to yourself I challenge you to pick a positive trait you want to really shine through you. Give yourself permission to freely attempt, celebrate success and learn from failure in a positive way. If your Debbie-Downer alter ego tries to discourage you, remind her that you’re calling the shots, and while you may be thankful for her input, you’re more interested in creating a positive change for yourself, and offer her a seat in the furthest corner of your mind.