What are your strengths?
Are you caring? Are you trustworthy? Are you creative? Do you make the best cookies this side of the Mississippi? All of these qualities, silly as some might seem, are strengths that people may possess. The fact of the matter is that everyone has certain strengths that help them in life. The problem is that people can have a tendency to focus on what they cannot do and what their problems are, rather than what they DO have and what they CAN do.
Often, couples can fall into this rut and will spend more time focusing on the problems than on the things that are going well and the strengths that each partner brings to the table. This is unfortunate because every person has certain strengths that they bring to a relationship. If you have a tendency to think in a pessimistic manner and focus on the problems, now is your chance to take charge and change your perspective!
Take some time to think about the strengths that you see in yourself as well as the strengths you see in your partner. These could be “obvious” strengths such as commitment, loyalty, and listening. These could also be less obvious things such as making each other laugh, being willing to take risks, or being a really great cook.
Sometimes it can be difficult to see strengths in yourself. One way to help you identify strengths is to think of the areas that you tend to excel in and that you have received compliments for. For example, have friends ever told you that you are a good listener? Or, have you ever gotten a promotion because of your consistent performance and your ability to work with other people? If so, these may be areas of strength for you. In fact, it might be a good idea to ask some of the people you interact with on a regular basis (friends, family, co-workers, etc.) what they see some of your strengths to be. If you have difficulty thinking of strengths or simply want to know more about yourself, you can even take some on-line assessments to explore what some areas of strength might be. One resource for this can be found on www.authentichappiness.org.
Why are my strengths important?
Strengths are the glue that hold people together in the hard times. Your strengths can also help you, not only to persevere through the difficult times, but to thrive as an individual and a couple in the good times. Once you have a good sense of what your strengths are, you can begin to see how they can contribute to your relationship. For example, if you possess the strength of commitment you might realize that while you have disagreements, you are committed to each other and will work hard to repair the relationship. Or, if a strength is forgiveness, you can be comforted in the fact that while you will likely hurt each other at times, you will also be quick to forgive each other.
If you take the time to really examine your strengths and discuss how they will help you on your journey as a couple, you will be on your way to setting up a strong foundation for your future. Something that might be really helpful is writing down these strengths and the ways that you have discussed that they might help you. Then you will have something to refer back to in the hard times when you are having difficulty seeing all of the positive aspects of your relationship. Have some fun getting to know yourself better and learning about all of the things that you already have going for you in your relationship. Your strengths are what make you unique and they are what define you, not your problems!