Friday, 16 May 2014

Dear Prudence

I had this cool, but weird realization sort of thing the other day.

Ok, the other week.

Ok, the other month, but whatever, we're not keeping score are we?

No.  Ok, cool.

So, I had this cool, but weird realization the other day.

See, I'm part of a study sort of thing that my friend asked me to join for her other friend who's doing graduate work on Positive Psychology.  It's a newer term, and not one I'd particularly heard, although it turns out it's one I've studied a fair bit on my own.

I joined the study because it was going to involve short, daily meditation (mindfulness) sessions and I felt that that was something I wanted to do, but would probably not be motivated to do myself, but would probably do if I felt I "had" to because I'd committed to the study.

One of the weeks had us focus on our strengths and to help us recognize our strengths we were to take this particular strengths survey that would list our top ten strengths.

The survey took a long time, had a large number of questions and when the results came in there was nothing terribly surprising.

What was surprising, however, was that what I'd always seen as character flaws or weaknesses, this was actually pointing out were strengths.

I've always struggled with being judgmental, and worrying too much.  This survey described "judgment" the following way "You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions.  You are able to change your mind."  Which... is totally true!  Sure, I might feel a certain way about someone or something, but I do keep my mind open and learn what I can and I will change my mind when I feel I'm wrong.  Wow!  I'm not a horrible person...

It also described one of my strengths as "prudence"  "You are a careful person and your choices are consistently prudent ones.  You do not say or do things that you might later regret."  Holy smokes!  All of a sudden, I'm not a "crazy worrier", I'm careful and prudent!  I'm ok!  I'm good!

My top two strengths according to this survey were "honesty" and "appreciation of beauty" and I'd say that these are two things I value, but I just kind of thought everyone did, so it isn't until recently that I've seen them as particular strengths of mine.  Kindness and humility were also in my top ten, as well as perseverance, gratitude, humour and perspective.

I don't know, really, that I've ever thought of these things as being anything more than ordinary, so it was... nice, I guess to hear them laid out as strengths of mine.

I think what really struck home for me though was this feeling and idea that what I thought were my weaknesses are actually strengths.  I'm prudent (a positive spin on cautious) which means I will always be planned and prepared.  My neighbour friend once described me as "cautiously adventurous!"  In terms of Burning Man lingo, I would consider myself "radically self reliant."

My worrying may be taking that prudence to an extreme, but if I see it as more of a strength instead of focussing on it as a negative, I think I might feel better about the way I approach new things.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that it was a really neat feeling to start seeing things I've never valued about myself in a very different (and far more positive) light.

Yay me!


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