Well Balanced

How to use "The Batman Effect”

April 18, 2022 Balance Season 1 Episode 24
Well Balanced
How to use "The Batman Effect”
Show Notes Transcript

Ofosu reflects on a moment (caught on tape!) where he was able to say goodbye to a protective persona he'd had for a long time. Then, he and Leah discuss the psychology behind these types of alter egos.

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[Theme up and fade under]

OFOSU: Hi, I'm Ofosu Jones-Quartey.

LEAH: And I'm Leah Santa Cruz. We're the meditation coaches on the Balance app. 

OFOSU: And this is our weekly show -- Well Balanced.

So let's just jump right into it. I want to talk about something that happened the last time we sat down to tape. Uh, and so I had a moment and that moment got recorded.

So I'm just going to play it and you'll hear another voice in the back. And that's Max, our producer.

[SFX + Start memo recording]

MAX: He is zoom. Will that show up for you guys? If I send a zoom chat?

LEAH: Yeah.

OFOSU: Wait, S S [stuttering] say that part again. Yeah. Have y'all have y'all ever had a very profound moment happen? Just casually? Like you're just in the middle of something and then just something very profound happens internally for you, but you're just still like on a zoom.

Yeah.

MAX: Do you need a second? We can give you a second. 

OFOSU: Oh my God.  No I think, uh, you know, I just, I just, uh, I said a very deep internal goodbye. It's hard to explain, but yeah, like not the same that I was just five seconds ago. Okay. Wow.

LEAH: Awesome! I've had those kinds of moments, but never on a zoom call.

OFOSU: It just all of a sudden it was just like, you know, it just so, all right.

So yeah. Okay. Mm, wow. Wow.

[End memo recording + SFX]

LEAH: I love that. I love the difficulty of putting it into words. Just like it was just, wow. I don't know what happened.

OFOSU: I can remember it so vividly though. I'm remembering what it felt like, what it, what it even looked like inside. But at that exact moment, it was very hard to put into words and it took me a while to be able to say what it was really.

LEAH: And what was it that you realized?

OFOSU: This was really a moment where my most authentic self stepped forward. And I was able to say goodbye to uh, protective persona that I had for a really long time.

LEAH: I just got this image of Harry Potter and they have like the magical cloak that covers them. Or you can't really see them inside.

That's different obviously, but no, it's like the same concept. Maybe. Can you describe it in a little more detail? So that's the only image I have in my head.

[both laughing]

OFOSU: So I've had time to think about this. Fortunately, in this episode, there'll probably be a few like, well, if you really know me, you'll know. So one of the things like if you really know me, you would know that I have lived, dealt with, suffered from pervasive anxiety. Pretty much my whole life and social anxiety too.

Like very, very difficult for me to be in like large group situations and all that type of stuff. So around 2010, I had been in a music group for a long time and then suddenly that group was no more. I felt very much by myself as an artist. I also had just recently started my life as an independent entrepreneur, no longer with like a nine to five and was doing my work as a mindfulness educator and my work as a musician still had two very young children. And I think I was feeling quite vulnerable at the time. So one of the things that I did and I don't really know that I did it consciously, but over time I became conscious of it is that I created this character, this version of me that was extremely confident.

That was very powerful, almost like arrogantly, powerful, cocky, like somebody that was just on point all the time. Yeah. It's kind of like Beyonce’s, Sasha Fierce, like this persona that helped her get over her stage fright. If that makes sense.

LEAH: And it's funny too. Cause she also said that she killed off Sasha Fierce.

So yours when it jumped off a cliff or said goodbye?

OFOSU: Yeah, I kind of walked him to the edge of the universe and then just let him go.

LEAH: He's out there somewhere, kicking ass.

OFOSU: Yes, out in the galaxy, just running things, but I no longer need him. And this is another, if you really knew me, you would know I am obsessed with Batman, like in the case of two new Batman graphic novels that arrived at my house today and that adds to my collection of 30 plus. And I've read them all more and more than once. And so I did some research on this whole concept of developing a persona to protect you. And there's actually something called The Batman Effect!. I was so high and when I found out that this thing has a name.

So an assistant professor at Hamilton College, her name is Rachel White - she did this research and she found that when kids are able to imagine themselves as like an alter ego, like Batman - they're more likely to stay focused and be able to deal effectively with what's going on in front of them. And she calls that the Batman Effect.

So I thought that was really cool.

LEAH: Yeah. Is this something you're going to do with your kids?

OFOSU: I think I'm good. Yeah. Any excuse to bring Batman into anything, I will.

LEAH: I just think it's like, I mean, you have four kids, but if you had a fifth, I'm guessing that you probably name it Bruce,

OFOSU: Did you know that my middle name is Bruce?

Yeah. It's very serious. Like this thing runs deep. Yeah.

LEAH: So then tell me, like, cause I kind of relate to this now that you're, you're speaking of this, I guess it wasn't conscious for me either, but when I was working and you know, the corporate world, I didn't feel like I fit in, in those environments. It always felt like I was kind of playing a role.

Like I had to live up to some expectation that others had of what a professional looks like or how somebody in the tech industry must look. So it's almost like I put on this suit, so to speak or to be like, okay, this is the professional version of me. And this is, you know, how I dress and how I operate.

Yeah, I guess it didn't really feel like fully me, like fully authentically me, you know, even though I didn't feel like I was being fake - it was just trying to adapt to the environment that I was in.

OFOSU: I mean, it totally makes sense. And I think that it's actually probably a common thing that people do.

And it's just like in this Batman Effect thing, it can be healthy for me. What I realized was that I've come to a place where I feel comfortable in my own skin. When I had this persona, I would just would overdo everything. I overdid my accessories. I overdid how I spoke. I overdid hanging out with people who I thought were the right people to hang out with.

And I overdid nightlife. I overdid all the things that I thought would validate this persona and convinced me that I wasn't really afraid anymore.

LEAH: Sounds like it served a purpose for you, like in a positive way to help you psychologically be able to navigate those worlds. What do you think helped you to reach that point where you realized, okay, I'm ready to say goodbye to this.

OFOSU: The same way that different causes and conditions come together to make a flower bloom. It's not one thing, but all the right things coming together. And I think the pandemic forcing me to ask like the serious questions, I'm having longer periods of time to meditate, be with myself, be in nature and finding that when I'm out in public now than when I'm around people -I feel good just being able to wish people well in my mind. And that's how I can move through the world with ease without shrinking back every time, or feeling like I'm going to get something wrong or I'm going to fumble in some kind of way, I just feel okay. And then, you know, having people like you to hang out with Leah, you know, that moment, right.

I was in a psychologically safe moment being able to share it out loud, like to interrupt the podcast and be like, hey guys, I'm having a moment. I mean, you know, shout out to Max also. Did y'all are people that I feel psychologically safe around and I trusted to be able to validate me in this profound moment.

LEAH: That's such an honor. And what would you say were the barriers perhaps before to you feeling that sort of safety maybe internally or externally?

OFOSU: I think not slowing down to assess, because what happened in this moment was I just did a random internal check-in like, how am I in this moment? And then it was like, oh, well, I personally am just fine. And the persona kind of rushed up to be like, do you need any help? And I was like, you know what, let me just walk you to the edge of the universe. I don't really need any, you know what I'm saying?

LEAH: Do you have enough rings on [both laughing].

OFOSU: So, I was moving at such a pace where I wasn't pausing to check in and really check on myself and how am I doing regularly to do regular self-assessments, self check-ins. And, um, yeah, and I think that was really the barrier to letting it go sooner. But I think it really was something that I developed to protect me, but also there was a way in which it operated that wasn't authentic to who I truly am, but it gave me space to arrive at that place. So I let it go with love. 

LEAH: So it sounds kind of like, it was a positive thing in your life and it became a point where it was holding you back.

OFOSU: Yes. Absolutely.

LEAH: Okay. Yeah. I can see that being the case. Um, gosh it makes me think a little bit about it. You know, you kind of give me some insight because this has been mowing over in my mind for a while. Like how, as a meditation teacher, you know, especially when I first started out, I had this idea in my mind that people weren't going to want to listen to me because I'm a young woman. I'm not an old sage, like man with a long beard wearing robes that looks like the traditional, holy and detached and perfectly enlightened human being that I thought some people would want to have from a meditation teacher.

And yeah, it was nerve racking to sometimes be in front of groups of people sharing what I'm passionate about because in the back of my mind, there was always this fear of being judged or not, not approved of, or not taken seriously. And, um, I want to go so far as to say I think that's common, um, amongst people who are in these roles of sharing with others to feel that kind of imposter syndrome, but to finally realize like, I don't need to be that person and it's fine. If I'm younger than the individual I'm sharing with, I still have a lot to give and, uh, an impact make, and it's really helped with feeling comfortable in my own skin too. And see it as a source of strength in that vulnerability.

OFOSU: Yeah. It reminds me of my three favorite words. You are enough.

LEAH: Yeah. And being vulnerable is still okay, you know, to feel that bit of vulnerability. I'm sure. It's not like you're going to feel 100% competent all the time.

OFOSU: No, it's yeah. It's not like I feel invincible. I'm just comfortable being vulnerable. Yeah. 

LEAH: Yeah.  So that's a big thing. I think a key thing is like now you're comfortable with vulnerability as a source of strength, versus as it being a weakness.

OFOSU: Yes. Yes, absolutely.

LEAH: Yeah. Well, that's kinda what I'm taking away from this is like embracing my vulnerability and seeing it as strength and hopefully you friend listening can see the same. Yeah.

OFOSU: Yeah. That's my hope too. Honestly, I felt a little vulnerable at the beginning of this, knowing that we were going to walk through this moment, but once again, it was an environment of psychological safety and, uh, and I, and I, and I got even more insight just chatting about it more. So thank you Leah. Yeah. 

LEAH: Well, it's great to see your blossom bloom and unfold.

[Theme up and under]

LEAH: Well, thanks for joining us friend.

OFOSU: Yes. Thank you. Thank you. And just a reminder, we come out with another episode next week, like we do every Monday, so you can subscribe or follow on whatever podcast app you use to get notified when that goes live. And, uh, yeah thanks for hanging out with us until then be kind to yourself.

LEAH: Have a lovely week. 

OFOSU: Peace.

[Theme up and out]