Saturday, August 15th, 2020

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
What is your Kryptonite?


I have surveyed the situation,
and the real enemy is us.
             - Pogo

What chance do the bad guys have against Superman? The odds seem to be stacked against them. But alas, even this powerful super being has a vulnerable area. Green Kryptonite can turn this super hero, who can do amazing things such as see through buildings, fly and stop speeding trains, into a weak and powerless person. With Kryptonite, even such criminals as Luthor and his henchman are able to beat him.

In the previous articles, we have been exploring the question of how we finally accept ourselves.  The first step towards self-acceptance is to ask, 'What keeps us from accepting ourselves?' Another way of asking this question is 'What is our kryptonite?' In other words, who or what takes away our power, causes us to lose confidence, to retreat and not believe in ourselves?

As ridiculous as it may sound, we may be the one giving ourselves the green Kryptonite that takes away our power and minimizes us. This thought was expressed by my father's favorite cartoon character, Pogo, who said, 'I have surveyed the situation and the real enemy is us.'

The green Kryptonite may well be our belief system and what we believe will make us feel good about ourselves. For some of us, a green Kryptonite belief is that everyone should like us. We are minimized if a person is upset with us or criticizes us.  We can feel down and rejected.  Mary Lyon expressed this thought in her book, Celtic Daily Prayer, 'Nine-tenths of our suffering is caused by others not thinking so much of us as we think they ought.'

It seems the more we seek another's approval, the worse we feel about ourselves. Even if someone is impressed with what we do, it still doesn't change how we feel about ourselves. Instead, we find ourselves looking to the next person or to the next project. It would be healthy for us to ask ourselves, 'Why do I keep trying to impress other people? Each time I do it, I feel worse about myself. I know it doesn't work, but I keep doing it.'  Perhaps what drives us is the belief that another's approval will change what we believe about ourselves.

The reason this approach of looking for another's approval doesn't work is because we are giving up  to another person our right to be the authority of who we are and what we do. We have given another person the power to decide how we should feel about ourselves. While it is okay to listen to another's opinion, the truth is that we will never feel good about ourselves until the final word lies within us.

Even if someone praises us, we will not accept the compliment unless we believe it to be true.

Next month we'll talk about remembering to eat your spinach!

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700