Many of us work hard to improve ourselves. We want to be better people: slimmer, fitter, healthier, happier, more patient, more organised. The list goes on and on. But is this really the right focus?
When you spend all the time focussing on yourself and what’s wrong, you give yourself a hard time.
When you keep thinking about how badly you’ve behaved, you can feel miserable and defeated.
You can feel so overwhelmed you give up in despair.
You may decide to to change your strategy. This is no way to live! You may decide to love yourself just as you are.
But that’s probably the hardest task of all!
Most of us just don’t achieve it. So more misery and disappointment.
It seems like we are stuck:
We can be constantly striving, reducing our enjoyment of life and often disappointing ourselves.
We can aim to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but probably fail dismally at that.
Either option seems to lead to failure and despair.
So what’s the way out? One way is to focus on our strengths.
What are your strengths? What are you good at?
If you’re in a really negative state and your answer is “nothing”, ask a close friend. All of us have some strengths. You may not feel you have many, but don’t get hung up on that. Just focus on the strength or strengths you do have.
Yes, you focus on your strengths. This may seem like a daft idea. After all if they are your strengths, you don’t need to work on them. This, of course, isn’t true. Even strengths need some work. You are almost certainly not at your full potential for any strength.
T Harv Eker has written:
“I spent a lot of time when I was younger “working on my weaknesses”. The problem was that I kept finding more problems with myself, and I kept on getting disappointed about just how many flaws I actually had/have.
“It finally occurred to me to stop trying to fix my weaknesses. Instead, I began focusing on my strengths and letting the weaknesses be where they are. If they go, they go. If they stay, they stay, and I’ll just manage them.”
You may already be good at keeping to your gym schedule. But could you work out harder when you get there? Could you research new workouts that would add new interest to what you do? Could you explore the gym community more? Could you try out that new piece of gym equipment?
You may be good at managing meetings already. But are you sometimes a bit strident? Do you talk over other people? I’m sure there’s some way in which you could be even better at managing meetings.
Get the idea? You focus on what you are good at and become even better at it.
So, life will get better if your strengths are even better. You’ll simply achieve even more in these areas of excellence.
You’ll also have more confidence, as you are working with the positive side of you. You are focussing on what you are doing well. Doesn’t that sound like it could be enjoyable, even fun?
This increased confidence can cascade into other areas of your life, including areas where you are weak. With more confidence and a feeling that you are making progress in your life you can become a better person all round. The momentum of these improvements can help to kick start improvement in those difficult and awkward bits of you.
I don’t think you need to do this necessarily all the time. If you’re ground down and despondent and feeling you’ll never change, commit to working on your strengths for a few weeks and ignoring your weaknesses. There’s a good chance that you’ll make progress in your areas of weakness even while not focussing on them.
Worth a try? Of course, it is.