It’s the classic interview question. “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” If asked to name our top three strengths, we may be able to come up with an answer. If asked to name five, we may struggle.
Just Say No (to Negativity)
We usually find it easier to focus on the negative. Identifying our faults is much easier than discovering our strengths. We are much more likely to tear ourselves down than build ourselves up. This is especially true in the midst of a struggle with addiction.
For healthy recovery, we must reverse this trend. By focusing on your strengths, you are nine times more likely to feel like you are thriving. Studies show those with negative self-views are more likely to relapse. For successful recovery, you must be confident you have the ability to recover. By focusing on your strengths and abilities, you discover resources you can rely on to overcome problems.
Applying this strengths-based recovery perspective involves the following steps:
- Focus on abilities rather than shortcomings or difficulties
- View mental health issues as a normal part of life
- Nurture your hopes, interests and aspirations
- Develop your assets (strengths and supports)
What are Your Strengths?
If you are going to focus on and develop your strengths, it is important to know where to look for these. Researchers report that a better understanding of our strengths helps prevent or reduce the harm from mental stress and related disorders.
The problem is that most people have a hard time identifying their own strengths. If you fall in that category, look to the following areas for guidance:
- Personal qualities
- What you have learned about yourself
- What you have learned about the world
- Life experiences
- Cultural and personal stories
- Professional institutions
- Support groups
Cultivating Your Strengths
Once you have identified your strengths, stay focused on them and work to make them even stronger. Start by simply writing them down. Post this list where you will see it each day as a reminder of what you have going for you.
Next, beef up your strengths. Choose one or two to start. Do you have access to resources such as professional counseling or support groups? Use them. Are you a gifted artist, speaker or writer? Practice your talent. Do you have loved ones supporting you in recovery? Pour effort into those relationships, strengthening your connections and family bonds.
As you shift your focus off frustrations, failures and faults and onto strengths, you create a transformation that is both internal and external. The result is a healthy environment for recovery.
What is one strength you can focus on today?
Additional Reading: Recovery Roadblocks: The Addict’s Art of Self-Sabotage
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