Acknowledging Strengths

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To be quietly aware of and appreciative of your unique strengths is not boasting. Rather it is a skill that builds inner security and quiet confidence. Are you or have you ever been reasonably clean, handy, dependable, adventurous, organized, industrious, flexible, friendly, resourceful, or persistent? Are you sometimes a reasonably good socializer, listener, cook, follower, leader, supporter, worker, driver, or helper? Although no one is perfect, each person has a unique combination or pattern of strengths. It is good to remind ourselves from time to time of what is presently right about ourselves. The following skill is based on the research of three Canadian psychologists, Gauthier, Pellerin, and Renaud, whose method improved the self-esteem of subjects in just a few weeks.3

Cognitive Rehearsal

• Develop a list of ten strengths you possess—attributes that are meaningful and true. Rather than identifying roles (such as "I am a good real estate agent"), try to identify personal characteristics ("I understand people"). Roles can change (one could retire or be fired), but characteristics are enduring.

• Find a quiet, relaxing place. Look at one statement, then meditate on the evidence for the accuracy of that statement for a minute or two. Repeat this for each of the ten statements. For example, "As a real estate agent, I can tune in to people's unspoken needs. I am good at helping them meet those needs in a respectful way." This will take about fifteen to twenty minutes altogether.

• Repeat this for ten days. Instead of meditating on all the statements during one session, you might prefer to place the statements on separate index cards and carry the cards with you. Throughout the day, pull out one card at a time. Look at the strength and reflect upon the evidence for its accuracy for a minute or two.

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