Recalling your own abilities helps nurture and strengthen those abilities (making you more capable of getting things done) and it also makes you feel better about yourself to remember what you’re good at. Try it right now and you’ll feel noticeably better almost immediately. Technically, you may “already know” your strengths. But if you took five minutes and thought up four of your greatest strengths right now, you would feel noticeably better. You’d feel stronger and more capable, and those are useful feelings to experience.
You have strengths you take for granted. But if you suddenly didn’t have one of your strengths, you would sorely miss it. Recognize that simple fact, and appreciate what you have by asking this question: What abilities do I have? Ponder it. Write down your answers. Make a list, and as you think of more, keep adding to the list.
If you think about this in your head, your thoughts will tend to drift toward your weaknesses and the mistakes you’ve made because of your brain’s automatic negative bias (read more about that in the book, Antivirus for the Mind). To help you focus on the question, use paper and pen and set a target: Either set a timer or aim for coming up with a definite number of answers.
In other words, set a timer for say, twenty minutes, and keep coming up with answers until the timer goes off. Or write at the top of a piece of paper: Ten things I’m good at. Then don’t stop until you write down ten. Forcing yourself in this way squeezes out good answers you might not otherwise come up with.
Do this exercise and you will feel better. That kind of positive emotion is good for your health. Not only will it make you feel better, but it helps you realize what you are especially good at, and it will encourage you to do more of it.
Brian Tracy, Alan Laiken and many other experts on accomplishment have pointed out that if you are not very good at accounting but you’re great at selling, you’ll make more money and have more fun in the long run if you spend the money to pay an accountant so you can spend more time selling. Find out what your abilities are and you’ll find it easier to focus on what you’re good at.
It may not be a good idea to brag to others about your special qualities, but it is very good for you to acknowledge your abilities to yourself. False internal humility in the privacy of your own mind is really a form of lying to yourself, and self-deception of this kind is not good for you.
Ask yourself the questions, “What abilities do I have?” and “What am I good at?” Becoming more aware of your abilities makes you saner, healthier, and stronger. You’ll feel better and get more done.
You can find out your “signature strengths” by taking the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire. A signature strength is a character trait or virtue that you habitually display and enjoy expressing.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.
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