It’s much easier to lick a bruised ego than take an inventory of personal strengths and act. Whether trying to lose weight or getting a job during difficult times, you might say, “Oh, what’s the use?” when you’re not successful. Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
On a concrete level this means accepting that there are things out of your control like traffic, genes, aging, accidents, or a crime being committed.
However, accepting doesn’t mean approving. When you focus on your abilities instead of your disabilities, you can finally find workable solutions for:
What You Can Do
- Body Image – I am not going to look like 20 at age 50. I’m good enough because I exercise and eat right. I am spirited with a facile mind. Creativity makes me timeless.
- Personality – I’m an introvert, so I think deeply rather than jump into things or engage in shallow talk. I don’t have to get out there and mingle.
- Conflict with an important person in your life- There’s a difference between force and power. I aim for an equitable compromise instead of winning.
- Disappointment regarding your direction in life – The detours can be more amazing.
- Criticism – It polishes my mirror.
- Fear – Often a manifestation of my insecure inner self. There is safety in numbers; I am on my side – this makes me feel safer.
For example, if you are thin and small, maybe you might not turn into the competitive wrestler of your childhood dreams, but you might become an agile, fluid martial artist. Or consider the case of a middle-aged woman who suffered a stroke on the right side of her body, and in rehab learned how to paint with her left hand discovering a surprising talent which would earn her a nice living – she had never painted before and called it, “stroke of luck!”
The problem is that dwelling on a weakness or lost ability inhibits growth and development, the ability to compensate and soar. Here is a case history from one of my clients who felt her self-esteem slide at work: During a Monday morning meeting her boss sarcastically rejected her suggestion, and she felt deeply embarrassed. The following week fearful and self-conscious, she played it safe and didn’t say anything during the meeting. This pattern continued. She wanted to push herself, desperate, to contribute a new idea in the meetings that followed, but she was blocked and fearful. I advised her to focus on her work using her unique skills which she admitted were accuracy, speed and analytics. This would surely earn her accolades from the boss, which would fuel her self-esteem enabling her to share her ideas during meetings. And that’s just what happened; she played to her strengths instead of allowing a weakness to define her reality.
Happy people don’t have the best of everything. They make the best of what they have!
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life
, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com