I’ve been reading a lot about living a stronger life lately. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the book here, suffice to say it’s all about playing to your strengths and it has really made me take a look at my own life in a different light.
The book is “Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently” by Marcus Buckingham. One of the things that Buckingham says, and that has been reinforced through a variety of conversations and random sound-bites over the past few days is that we’ve all been condition to look at, and focus on, what is wrong in our lives and try to fix it. And that’s not what we should be doing. We should be playing to our own unique strengths and finding those “strong moments” that support our strengths and make us feel like we are being the best person we can be.
So as I begin to really work on developing my own strengths and creating my own strong moments — and after taking the Strong Life Test I can tell you they are not what I thought they were — I thought I’d share with you my own ideas on how I’m going to do this.
First, and this is one of the steps in the book as well, I am going to accept that maybe what I thought about myself all these years is not really what I am meant to be doing. Buckingham says that the first step is accepting what you find out about yourself. Whether you take a third-party test, or figure it all out through self-reflection, you may end up like me and find out that your strengths lie in areas that you’ve consciously steered yourself away from.
Why?? Well, it could be one of any number of reasons but I’d be willing to bet that somewhere in there is a healthy dose of fear. It may be that you’ve listened to others for so long that you don’t hear your own voice, and when it does finally break through all that excess noise it scares the heck out of you. Mine did.
I let my abusers beat down my strengths and turn them into weaknesses because I was too scared to fight back. And then I let them define me for so long that learning how to listen to my own voice is a very scary experience — one that’s kept me locked in a weak life for the past ten years. Believe me, breaking out of that box is exciting and terrifying all at the same time!
So I’m learning to accept my strengths for what they are and I’m getting excited about the possibilities of what they can do for me. It’s a work in progress, but along with it I am also growing a backbone. And a sense of self-confidence that I don’t really think I’ve ever had. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that no one else is going to believe in me until I believe in me. And really, in the big scheme of things the only person who really needs to believe in me is me.
I’m changing the stories that I tell myself. So I am no longer focusing on the negative parts of my life. Since, as Buckingham says, “Attention Amplifies Everything,” why would I want to focus on the things I don’t like. I choose instead to focus on what works and to give that my attention. I’m playing to my won strengths and letting them take up the slack for any negative or weaker parts of me.
Setting goals works for some people, and for others it doesn’t work so well. If you’re a goal-setter then you can write them down and post them on your walls and mirrors and kitchen cupboards. I’m a little too flighty for that sometimes (I call it adaptability and consider that one of my strengths) and so goals don’t always work well for me. What I’ve found does work though is using a vision board and affirmations. Instead of working toward a goal that’s set somewhere in the future, I like the idea of focusing on the outcome as if it has already happened and working toward making that my reality.
While I’m doing all of that I’m also learning how to accept that these things take time. Because when I’m being really honest with myself I can admit that this isn’t all going to happen overnight no matter how badly I want it to.
You’ll notice I don’t call it patience. That’s because I have an issue with patience. Once upon a time a good friend told me to stop asking the Universe to grant me patience, because when you stop and think about it that’s just like asking for lots of bad sh** to happen so that you can learn how to deal with it. Ever since she told me that I’ve tried to avoid asking for patience.
So there you have it. A quickie crash course in playing to your strengths. It’s going to be a journey learning and discovering a whole new way of being. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Do you want to come along?
Image Credit: Kimberlee Kessler Design