Lesson Four: Affirmations
“Judge a person for what she is, instead of what she is not.”
Another important step in developing our self-image is to focus on our strengths, not our weaknesses. So much of modern culture seems set up to remind us of our deficiencies and what we cannot do. Even the educational system works that way.
There is a lot of evidence in modern psychology that says if we can change our internal language, one small step at a time, we can change our attitudes towards what we can do.
In her interview, Karina Walters felt that her athlete’s competitive attitude allowed her to face the criticisms and judgments of others, and to fight harder to prove them wrong and to succeed. Without this internal belief she might have accepted whatever they said and given up.
Even if you are not athletic, can you develop the same inner strength?
Read the following quotes from other interviewees. Do they help you understand we must see our strengths in order to succeed?
“Tap into the culture. You may not think you know enough about culture, but the culture is living in you. Tap into your passion, heart.” —Judy Bluehorse Skelton
“Always ask for respect… that inner strength… to be strong and keep trying. Fall down and get up again. Cause there will be many times you are going to fall down, but you have to get up.”
“If a student doesn’t feel they’re the typical forester or engineer, that’s actually a good thing because I think that’s what organizations and companies are starting to look for… because the way society’s working now… it’s not working and I think if you can find talent that… looks at a new way of doing things, it can make things work better.” —Don Motanic
Here is a simple activity that has you look at yourself in terms of your abilities and what you can do. You will need a few pieces of paper and a pencil.
- Write a heading on the left side of all the sheets of paper, My Abilities, and on the right side write My Strengths.
- Under My Abilities, list all the things you can do. List everything you can think of from reading and writing to cooking a poached egg to changing a flat tire. Include things that might not be considered skills, but more like gifts; compassion, kindness, generosity, etc.
- Can you hear a voice in your head telling you this is silly, these things aren’t important? Where do you think that voice comes from and why does it talk that way and interfere?
- When you are done with this list, go to My Strengths and begin to list things you believe you can do so well you can teach others. It might be the same list, but it might be different.
- Did you leave things off the list because you thought they weren’t important? Why did you do that?
- When you have completed both lists, look at them and see all the things you have mastered. You have learned an awful lot in your lifetime be you a teenager or adult or elder.
- Do you think you can learn more things and master them? What would you like to learn? How would you go about learning about them?
- Share the list with people who you feel support you. Ask them what they see and what they have learned about you.