• Spiderman Syndrome

  • When my oldest son was only about 4 years old he started developing the attitude that I came to call the Spiderman Syndrome. He never wanted to practice to become good at anything, and if he wasn't immediately excellent he would never want to do it again. When he played soccer, he wanted to score all the goals and would get upset if someone else scored one, no matter which side they were on. When he played t-ball he wanted to hit all homeruns. When he learned to ride a bike, he couldn't stand it that he couldn't just get on and ride away and of course, never wanted to ride again. In short: he just wanted to be bitten by a radioactive spider and become instantly good at everything he did, without putting in any of the work. Small wonder that with that attitude it took him until his 9th to ever learn to ride that bike.

    We are of course grown ups and we know you have to practice to get good at something. Emotionally though, most of us secretly still have a little bit of that Spiderman Syndrome inside. For one thing, we tend to like the things we have a natural aptitude for and avoid the things we don't. Personally, I'd love to be able to paint well. And if I had any talent for it, I would probably do it often. But I don't and really, I don't want to put in the work to get better at it.

    In Yoga class, the Spiderman Syndrome sometimes rears its head too. I see people get frustrated because their pose looks nothing like the teacher's pose. When I remind them that I have been doing this 4 to 6 days a week for the last 15 years, does it help with the frustration or does it make it worse?

    And when being asked to breathe a certain way, for instance, either seated or moving, people get frustrated too: 'That doesn't work for me' 'I am getting light headed' 'That's impossible!' 'What if I can't do that?'. What if you can't do it? Then you let go of the need to be Spiderman and allow yourself to just practice, without needing to have mastered the exercise already. Just because you can't do it instantly, doesn't mean it is impossible. Just because everybody breathes, that doesn't make it easy. Everybody can run, but not everybody can run a marathon. But you could if you practiced, it's not impossible. And if you practiced more often, say, a couple of times a week, instead on once a month, your progress would accelerate considerably!

    Some progress is quick and some is slow, but whether it takes you 6 months to touch your toes or 6 years, it is practice that gets you there, not declaring it 'impossible' and giving up. That is why it's called a Yoga PRACTICE. And personally, I am very glad that I am allowed to just practice! It's so much more enjoyable (if mildly frustrating at times). 


    First published May 2010