Like most primates, for human beings our superpower is our capacity to join with others to accomplish tasks, maintain safety, and become our best selves. We do not have wings, or prehensile tails, or claws. We have cooperation. We know how to band together to do what will enhance our lives, ensure our safety, and promote the development of our families.

Unfortunately, we have come to the idea that we are supposed to be independent and we should not need help. We are usually pretty ok with helping other people, but we often feel diminished when we need to turn to other people to help us. When that happens, we have to recognize our vulnerability in an impersonal, uncertain world. And because we have a fantasy that the best people succeed through their own individual effort, vulnerability brings with it the shame of our limitations, what feel like inadequacies.

It is, however, the strongest, most adaptable and most competent people who know that together we are better than we are alone. It takes a village to make one life work, and fortunately we are each a part of many other people’s villages. We offer to each other our knowledge, our strength, our perspectives, our wisdom, and our helping hands. This is reciprocal, but not directly so. My dentist fixes my teeth. I do not fix his teeth. But I help my community in the ways I know how to do. And my community helps me.

Being able to engage with the people who enhance our lives and to enlist their help and care is our human superpower. It is not platitudes and lip service but a deep and lasting reality that we need each other. This is not because we are inadequate. We do better when we get over our egoic need to go it alone and realize after all, we have to get some help. We have hands and language and a yearning for connection that arise from our capacity to work together to manage this beautiful, uncertain reality of being alive.

About norasblog

I am a psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Chicago.
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