With the start of the new school year approaching, young and old alike often feel overwhelmed by stress. But there is a technique to better understand it and prevent it from becoming harmful to health. Its name: the Batman effect.
This technique consists of asking yourself what Batman would have done in the face of an unexpected and potentially stressful event. The Gotham City vigilante can be replaced with any fictional or real character you admire. Because appealing to an alter ego allows us to take a step back from our source of anxiety, and to analyze it from a new angle.
The superhero is you!
Do you have sweaty palms at the thought of giving a presentation in front of your colleagues and your manager? Imagine yourself as invincible as Superman. Is your heart pounding at the idea of responding to that job posting you saw on LinkedIn? Try to be as determined as Hermione Granger, the heroine of the “Harry Potter” saga.
However, it is not a question of erasing you in favor of one or another. But rather to get rid of the limiting beliefs that hinder your development, and to discover unsuspected talents. “It’s not about becoming a superhero per se, but about building on the qualities you already have but just need to increase tenfold”as professional coach Francesca O’Connor explained to Stylist.
The Batman effect has been studied for years in psychology, notably under the impetus of Ethan Kross. This American psychologist and neuroscientist has conducted several studies showing the benefits of self-distancing to regulate his emotions. One of them, published in 2020 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychologyhas proven that talking about yourself in the third person singular in your flow of thoughts helps to fight negativity and have a better self-image.
Good in your body, good in your head!
Better manage uncertainty
This is exactly what the Batman effect aspires to do, helping those who use it to develop their adaptive intelligence. This type of intelligence requires rapid changes in behavior and thought patterns in the face of new constraints. All without giving in to panic. It is very useful on a daily basis, and more particularly in the professional world, where one is led to wear different hats to achieve their career goals. So why not use different alter egos to get there?
If the Batman effect can be very useful for overcoming stress, it must be used on an ad hoc basis. The goal is not to perpetually slip into the skin of a character to make decisions without being overwhelmed by stress, but to draw from within the resources necessary to get there. “Some of the most creative minds have used alter egos for centuries to bring out their weirder, more outrageous, or more confident side. Sasha Fierce is just a little louder, sexier (than Beyoncé). Ziggy Stardust and other David Bowie characters helped a very introverted man express himself fully on stageFrancesca O’Connor told Stylist.
These two artists ended up overcoming their stage fright and going on stage. You can do the same and face, like them, the situations that scare you and cause your stress level to skyrocket. By asking yourself what a superhero or any character would do in your place, you can learn to better deal with moments of uncertainty. And to rhyme back to school with serenity.