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Couch Coaching: Self Care Lessons from Black Widow

Last updated on July 13, 2021

I’m not really an action film kind of person but figured I’d been watching a lot of S.W.A.T. (efforts to bring about radical police reform from within the system) so went to the CINEMA for the first time this year (for the first time since Bill and Ted!) and belatedly realised I couldn’t fast-forward through the scary bits at a cinema. Still, am very glad I saw it and hope you enjoy another Couch Coaching blog post.

I’m doing my best to minimise spoilers but I’m me so, consider yourself warned….

Pain makes us stronger’

Natasha / Black Widow remembers her ‘mother’s’ words after they’re separated and chooses to keep an open heart and keep fighting for the underdog.

As a trauma therapist with a trauma history, I remember reading Nietzsche as a death obsessed teenager and not believing that what felt like it was nearly killing me would make me stronger.

Years later, I adored Jessica Jones’ take on it, that what doesn’t kill you makes you strAnger.

Pain CAN make us stronger. And it can be too much. Sometimes, it’s eustress and we grow through it. Other times it’s distress and can cause our systems to collapse. We’re not (I don’t think. I don’t know you. I’M not) superheroes. But post traumatic growth IS possible.

Family

Although they’re an unusual family, when they’re reunited, they fight (physically) and argue. Am going to resist saying any more in case of spoilers and offer some journal prompts instead:

When you think about your own family of origin, do you trust them with your life?

What about the families you’ve chosen for yourself? Groups, communities?

What do you need to express with people who’ve hurt you? What do you want to put behind you? How do you want to heal these dynamics?

Optimistic

Watching the fantabulous Wild, several hundred years ago, I remember thinking I’d have given up before leaving the motel when the rucksack toppled Reese Witherspoon’s Cheryl Strayed over. Several other times in the film, I again thought, ‘Yeah, no, I’d be totally done here.’ And yet, what’s the alternative?

There’ve been times in life that I’ve wanted to give up and I’m so grateful that I persevered. Still, Natasha’s resilience when fighting … Barely recovered from one and then, boom…

What feels like an insurmountable obstacle for you right now?

What would you do if you didn’t have that little (or BIG) voice in your head telling you it’s impossible, you’ll never make it?

I’m not suggesting you ignore common sense or the reality of the situation you’re pondering – you know yourself best – but what would it take to overcome whatever obstacles are between you and recovery and/or your dreams?

What do you need to forgive yourself for?

Natasha, Yelena and Melina could have wallowed in self-loathing for what they’d had to do to survive. Instead, they turned it around and did all they could, moving forward, to make things right.

What are you hauling yourself over imaginary hot coals for?

How is that helping anyone?

What can you do, right now, to make things right if possible or vow to do better moving forward?

What is your purpose?

Natasha, Yelena and Melina had survived the Red Room (where girls – ‘the only natural resource there’s too much of’ – were weaponised as ‘widows’). They could have perpetuated the cycle (Melina did for a long time). They could have felt broken. But Natasha wanted to literally save all the girls and women in the world (not to mention the wider world who were at risk due to the…. [deleting spoilers]

When you think about your own goals and dreams, what is your wider purpose? If you were to listen to your soul’s whispers, what would you hear in this call of the wild? In yogic philosophy terms, what’s your dharma?

Give yourself some time and space to really connect with this now.

What do you feel most pain around?

What do you feel like – at some level, even if you’re rolling your eyes – you were born to do?

What makes your heart sing?

What fills you with joy?

How does it feel to connect with the part of yourself that has an unshakeable purpose even if it’s not yet clear?

How might you create more space in your life (daily practices and longer stretches) in order to connect with your sense of purpose, meaning and joy?

Keep an open heart

Like little Moana (I had to fastforward bits of that, too), Natasha keeps connecting with the essence behind the wound. Even as it’s fighting her, she’s owning her part in creating the monster and connecting with the part of her that was an innocent little girl.

Last week, I blogged about how hurt people hurt people

When you think about someone you’re struggling with, how does it feel to imagine them as a baby?

How does it feel to ask yourself how you’ve contributed to the situation?

How can you set healthy enough boundaries to keep yourself safe AND remember the humanity and interconnectedness of us all?

I do my best to send Metta (Loving Kindness) to people I find challenging as part of my daily practice

Even so, I was surprised to actually feel a softening towards a certain former US president who is refusing to let go. Then, the other day, I saw a clip where he said something about how, ‘I’m always at war’ and I was finally able to imagine him as an innocent baby. What kind of life IS that? To be at constant war with yourself and others?

Natasha, I hope, once in a safe enough space, will no longer be at war with herself.

Play to your strengths

Natasha and Yelena (Florence Pugh. Yup, Amy from the most recent Little Women) made a great team. Yes, the sisterly bickering was constant but they seemed to like it and they ultimately supported each other by staying in their own lanes.

What are you best at?

What might you step back around rather than allowing ____ in your life to shine in their own way?

We can use our imaginations to visualise and create a better world

I know very little about the whole Marvel Universe and haven’t seen any other Avengers films but I enjoyed the TV Series, Agent Carter and adored (in a different part of the Marvel Universe – I have no idea how any of this works) Black Panther.

If you let yourself imagine the biggest challenge you see in the world right now – climate change, racism, misogyny etc etc etc – what do you feel called to help heal?

What superpower or superpowers would help you and suit you?

Which superhero friends (existing in various universes and made up by yourself) would you like to help you with your mission?

After vanquishing whatever the obstacles to the kind of world you imagine, let yourself linger there… Use all your senses to make your imaginings as vivid as possible.

If you enjoyed this, you can read other Couch Coaching blog posts HERE

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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