By Hwaa Irfan
Depending on how familiar one is one’s self, that simple question might be difficult to answer. Because we have sacrificed our true selves to a materialistic world that bases perfection as a condition that is predisposed to a cultural standard of beauty, and bases that self worth on the basis of commodity, we have learnt to see ourselves as commodities to be packages in a certain way, to be available in a certain way, and to be popular in a certain way. Yet what happens when that standard is no longer viable, no longer needed as is happening now as a result of the ongoing global economic crisis – we fall apart! Our self esteem tumbles into a vicious circle that we cannot quite get ourselves out of because we never truly learnt to value ourselves.
So how do we discover those strengths?
Usually we discover them in a process of doing something, something unfamiliar, something new, or something different!
When we fall into routines, those routines define our boundaries, and the limited ways in which we see ourselves. Our egos might be comfortable with those routines, but something inside is not, because those routines prevent us from knowing and fulfilling our true potentials. Something inside begins to get restless, and we might pacify that restlessness with distractions or live our lives in front of the screen, but deep down we are not satisfied. That dissatisfaction erupts in many negative ways that in the process becomes destructive to us and to others. We are not machines after all that can be simply satisfied with a wage packet, a certain amount of calories a day, a new jacket, a new electronic fad or being told what to do, and how to live our lives.
Unless we reach out of the not so comfortable comfort zone, we will never be able to discover all that we can be including those strengths that enable us to cope with difficult times.
Is your strength:
- Giving love but you are not giving it?
- Seeing the solution that no one else can see?
- Providing consensus when there is dissension
- A quick learner in certain areas
- Your sense of humor in the midst of a crisis
- Ability to adapt
- Ability to assess all the influences at play to make the best decision
- A good organiser
- Bringing the best out of children/adults
- Connecting with people
- Creating harmony
- A good strategist
- Anything related to plants/animals/the outdoors
- The Arts/design
- Best in a crowd/small group
- Understanding the needs of others
These are just a few examples that when exercised and not locked away increases one’s sense of self worth, and one’s well being. Whether privately or publicly, in the home or in the workplace, or can even serve as a basis to start up one’s own business. But if they are locked away, neglected, and unappreciated, those strengths dwindle like unused muscles.
Any strength, once identified deserves to be practiced, and developed. By using one’s strengths one becomes enthusiastic and energized, enabling one to go further than feeling compelled/obliged to do something that one has set one’s mind on, devoid of any real connection with what one has set one’s mind on – who knows where they will lead. It also means that one has to have a suitable medium through which one can apply one’s strength for if one’s strength receives more positive feedback with children, there is no point in applying it with adults for the effort needed will deplete one’s energy, one’s enthusiasm, and one’s desire. But when one applies one’s strength in the right context, one can imagine doing it everyday with varying degrees of success
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us!
We ask ourselves
“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?”
Actually who are you not to be?
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you…
As we let our light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we liberate from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others. – Nelson Mandela, 1994 Inaugural Speech