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  • Stop Struggling and Use Your Strengths Instead

    Sarah had the tendency to put herself down a lot. She constantly compared herself to others and always fell short. In her opinion, she had nothing to offer to any group in her life (work, family, friends, etc.). She often tried to overcompensate by trying to mimic her friends in what they seemed to be good at, but ended up feeling fake, disconnected, and even worse about herself. She began believing she was just unlucky, talentless, passionless, and this only added to her isolation and self-esteem issues.

    Our self-esteem is largely based on us feeling good about ourselves and our impact in this world. Unfortunately, most of us tend to focus on what we don’t do well or are lacking, which lowers our confidence.However, if we shift our focus to what we do well and use our strengths regularly, we can feel more confident, we benefit those around us with our unique talents (we have an impact), and we get even better at our strengths (more confidence!).

    It’s like the little bird that feels bad about itself because it can’t climb a tree like a monkey. They both can reach the top of the tree, but because the bird is only focusing on how it can’t climb (like the monkey), it misses the whole picture and the benefits of being a bird (like being light enough to be on the tippy top of the tree on weaker branches, without falling). We do the same with ourselves. We compare and focus on what we can’t do instead of the end results and the benefits of our unique talents and strengths.

    Strengths are what we seem to do best, naturally. They are our unique abilities, talents, or gifts.

    Examples of strengths are:

    • Being a good listener,
    • Being a good public speaker,
    • Having a great sense of humor,
    • Being creative,
    • Being friendly,
    • Being a hard worker

    TIPS on how to identify your strengths:

    1. Ask a group of friends to each share with you 1-3 words they would use best to describe you. People that know us tend to be a good source of information about our strengths because they tend to notice and point these out to us. Pay attention to positive feedback!
    2. List your most significant life events in chronological order and the impact each had on your life. Then, identify what personal qualities, attitudes, and/or behaviors got you through those. You may also notice that some particular things come easy to us. As usual, we tend to minimize or ignore these. Don’t! Highlight them instead.
    3. Be intentional about using your strengths regularly (daily/weekly): Identify the strengths you want to focus on and the activities/opportunities you have daily/weekly to use them and add them to your schedule. The more you do what you’re great at, the more confident you feel, the more impact you have on others, and the more you want to continue sharpening those strengths.

    Take away:

    We can use this information in our relationships & work too!

    • In our marriage: If your strength is to plan events, and your husband’s is to make things happen. Instead of resenting your husband for not planning date nights, appreciate and embrace his ability to make things happen once you plan them! Result: Complementarity (you contribute to each other)
    • In our parenting: If your kid isn’t very athletic, but is amazing with musical instruments. Instead of pressuring him/her to be an excellent baseball player, support and nurture his/her creative talents!
      Result: Happier, confident kid.
    • At work: If you are great at providing a creative service, but you are terrible at the accounting and marketing piece. Hire someone who is excellent at the business piece, so you can focus on what you do best!
      Result: More fulfillment, better business management, business growth.

    Need to learn more about how to improve your confidence? Individual Therapy can help!