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There is not a finite amount of awesome in the world

There is not a finite amount of awesome in this world!

So why are we all so scared of spending it?! Over my life, I have noticed this overwhelming aversion to acknowledging our own strengths and being able to celebrate, with joy, the things that we are proud of. I suspect there’s a healthy dose of Australian culture, tall poppy syndrome, Aussie battler etc in all of this.

It makes me sad though when I ask people what they are proud of, what their strengths are or what they think is special about them – and they don’t know how to answer. What this tells me when people can’t answer is that they either are too embarrassed to admit the good or they don’t have an internal script they can draw on to describe themselves. And if it is that they don’t have that script? Well, no wonder people feel like they have low resilience and low ability to cope with setbacks – they can’t even describe what they are good at!

If you’ve never done it, I would highly recommend completing the VIA character strengths survey here: I consider myself pretty self-aware, but seeing some of these results actually changed how I thought about myself, my relationships and my work. My character strengths were: creativity, humour, perspective, judgement/consideration and curiosity. And no, I didn’t need to look that up – I have memorised them. I love thinking about how I can better use those signature strengths, and it also helps put in perspective why I do many of the things I do – because I love using my strengths!

How can you support yourself or your kiddo with celebrating their strengths?

– Develop a rich vocabulary of strengths. Be descriptive in what you see and speak this out loud to consolidate it. Are you/your child kind? Or do you have a great strength for recognising in others when they need a bit of extra support? Are you persistent? Or do you have the ability to experience setbacks, problem-solve your way through them and come up with a plan?

– Share and share often (there is infinite awesome in the world!). If you are proud of something, share it with others, or share it in your mental world. Celebrate your own achievements. And do that for other people

– A side note – acknowledging you are proud of something in no way reflects on the ability for someone else to be proud. We so often compare ourselves to others so that if someone else does “better” we feel it takes away from our own achievement. We’re all running our own race, why not high-five when we pass each other?

– A challenge – find a comment a day you can make to yourself, your kids, or a colleague to acknowledge their strengths. Do it for a week and see how it feels!

This is general advice only – please get some specific support to address your needs. At ConnectEd Counselling and Consultancy, we believe that all families, and the communities they belong to, benefit from a little extra care and support. Whether the problems are big or small, we want to make sure everyone has the chance to feel connected – to themselves, to others and to their community. We offer counselling services to young people and families and have immediate availability. If you need some support, get in touch here:

(Written by Dr Matt O’Connor)

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