Everyone wants to know what their strengths are – what they are good at, what situations they can pull off well and what about them helps them cope better with life.
‘Strengths’ of any person are unique. Even if two people have the same strength, for example, good communication skills, the way each person’s communication skills show up in life would be very very different.
Sometimes, it is this unique nature of strengths that makes it difficult for you to truly identify what your strengths are. You probably think – ‘God, he’s so effective with customers’, or, ‘She’s so good with conversation!’ when you notice others.
Then you think, ‘I wouldn’t have thought of this in this situation’
The next thought is, ‘I don’t have good enough communication skills. I can’t handle this well’
Hmm…so communication gets stricken off your list.
Maybe this happens in other areas too.
‘He has a better dressing sense than me’
‘She keeps more fit than me’
‘She’s so much better at managing time’
For some of you, so many areas get stricken off that there is hardly anything you are able to feel good about. Gradually, sub-consciously perhaps, you begin to believe, ‘probably there is nothing so special about me’
This belief is excruciating, since, it lowers your self-belief and hope from yourself.
However, it is just not possible that there is truly nothing special about you. You have spent a number of years in the world, have lived a variety of experiences and have dealt with many different situations.
Surely, something about you has made you survive all these years.
You surely have done some things right!
And here lie your strengths!
Saving Some Focus for ‘What You do Right’
Life teaches us to be aware of our mistakes.
As children, parents have corrected you when you erred. In school, you were made to stand out of class when you forgot your book
Then you grew up and at every stage, you were reminded again and again to be aware of what you did wrong, or where you fell short.
You were also reminded that if you are not cognizant of your mistakes, you would miss out on something – a seat in a college, a good first job, a promotion, an attractive partner, a comfortable life….and so it goes on.
And this was done with reason –
To have a good life, you must know what not to do again
But then, to have a good life, you must also know what to do again, and yet again!!
To be aware of what you did right is also as important as to be aware of what you didn’t!
A Small Exercise to Get you Started with Finding your Strengths:
Think of one thing in the last two-three days that went right.
Maybe one difficult customer calmed down on talking to you
Maybe you were able to focus a little better on work despite the usual distractions
Maybe you woke up on time after long
Wait! Don’t think, ‘this happens once in a way, why give it any value?’
It deserves some thought because, life is not only about ‘chance’
Think, was anything different in the way you spoke with this customer? Your tone? Maybe you were calm yourself, which calmed him down.
Maybe you went to bed slightly more peacefully than usual and so had a sound sleep.
This gives you some clues about what you possibly can repeat in a similar situation right? Maybe you could try using the same tone, or create similar peace while going to bed.
It may not necessarily work the second time..maybe it’ll work the fifth time, then the eighth time. However, once you begin saving some focus for little things that you did right, without discounting them as ‘too little’ or ‘inconsequential’, you’d gradually begin discovering what you did right – the beginning point of discovering your unique skills….your strengths.
Do share your experiences with discovering your strengths through your comments. Also, if you know of anybody who would benefit from reading this blog post, do share it with them.
Image Credit: seantoyer
About the Author: Malini Krishnan is part of the team of psychologists at Inner Space – A center for counseling and psychological assessment. Sadia Raval is the Founder & Chief Psychologist. You can know more about her here.
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