August 14, 2015
Never again do we have to be bound by old ways. Through the strengths we find a new language to reexamine our pasts.
Most of us know a time when we alone have been the biggest obstacle standing between ourselves and our fullest potential. Maybe it was anxiety or fear or overzealousness. Maybe it was laziness or a refusal to ask for help. Whatever it was, the lessons we learn when we stand in our own way may actually be important ways that our greatest self is revealed.
Challenges create opportunities for resourcefulness, tolerance, and humility. They give us a chance to demonstrate perseverance, acceptance, and resilience. It is said, “If you want to learn patience, you have to wait in lines.” Patience, after all, cannot truly be understood from a book anymore than love or honesty or stick-to-it-iveness can. These are principles that require us to actually do them, practice them, even fail at them, to truly learn them.
But what happens if we never change how the story of our past is worded? What happens when we keep telling the same story, even after our thinking has evolved?
What happens when we look at our path as a series of disconnected moments—individual events floating in a time bath? What then?
Likely, what happens, is that the struggles stay struggles and the wins stay wins. Perhaps, for some of us, this view feels limiting, undersold, and a bit false.
What would it take to see set-backs as essential parts of any success? What would it take to view anger, hurt, pain, and loss as absolutely crucial elements of joy, victory, pleasure, and adventure?
One thought would be: Words. New ones. A whole new vocabulary.
So many of our thoughts are expressed in an inner-language—as opposed to flashes of imagery—which leaves us talking to ourselves. We tell ourselves stories all day about “the way things are” and “the way things were”. In fact, don’t the stories we tell about the past color the way we see the present?
Isn’t it, then, likely that if we want to change how we think about something, we must first change the words that we use to think about that thing?
Einstein tells us, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Perhaps that is one of the many gears at the core, driving our strengths: we are given a new kind of thinking.
The strengths give us new words to make new stories about how things are, were, and can be. The kid who grew up “with his head in the clouds” now knows that he was full-on in this strength of ideation. Or the girl who grew up hearing “how opinionated” she was, now knows that her enthusiasm to share her thoughts is really her strength of command.
What is our vocabulary for framing the past? The present? The future? What stories do we tell ourselves that could use some updates? What if you ran the history of your experience through a strengths filter? What then?
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.