• Strengths and Weaknesses

    Two sides of the same coin: accepting that our weaknesses may also be our stremgths. we spend a lot of time beating ourselves up about our flaws: I'm too stubborn; I always put things off; I'm too impatient; I never know when to say enough is enough; I anger quickly; I eat too much, or I eat too little (I never get it right).

    We go on and on until we are left with little or no self-esteem and a poor opinion of oursleves. We end up falling into the trap of the self-fulfilling prophecy: believing we are a certain way we only notice the times we behave in that way and never notice the times we don't behave in that way until it becomes a firmly entrenched idea of who we think we are, who we see ourselves as.

    But what if we took the time to be kind to ourselves and say, well yes I can be stubborn, but only about things that I believe passionately about, or yes, I can be stubborn but that means I stick with something and finish it to the best of my ability.

    And so what if we have flaws? Who is perfect? And I know it's a cliche but it would be boring if we were all the same and liked the same things and behaved in the same way. Where would individuality and dissension fit in if we all conformed? And surely it's not natural to conform: because even in the natural world there are differences between animals of the same species or plants of the same species. We are, perhaps, meant to be different, but in being different we open ourselevs up to being viewed as 'outside the norm' (who is in??), even if that viewing is primarily done by ourselves.

    Is it just a question of perspective? Sitting on the train one day I saw a lady using her phone to take a selfie. The faces she presented to her phone were nothing like the expressions she used when she wasn't in front of a camera, so much so that she looked like a different person. In her quest to accept the image in front of her she was distorting her face so much that she wasn't even herself anymore. And the irony is that, of course, the face she felt wasn't good enough to take a photo of was by far the appealing of all the expressions that she pulled, but she wouldn't/couldn't see that. What she saw as weaknesses, I saw as strengths. Naturally, we see our own outside image much less than anyone else: it takes longer for us to get used to our own new haircut than it does for other people because we spend less time looking at our hair than everyone else. When I look in the mirror I always feel surprised as my image doesn't reflect who I think I am. I'm not sure what I think I should look like, but it's not this! And this surprise is becoming greater the older I get. Now I can see some white hairs and a few wrinkles creeping in. That doesn't worry me in itself as I appreciate the experiences and time I've had that have helped to create these lines and wrinkles, but it surprises me nevertheless!

    But how does that relate to knowing who we are? Recognising and accepting our strengths and weaknesses? Surely this process should be the reverse of our opinion of our external self - ok, we don't know what we look like because we don't spend much time looking at ourselves (relatively speaking), but shouldn't we know who we are better than anyone? Who do we spend the most time with? Ourselves. but do we know ourselves? Or do we hide behind daily routines, activities, chores and mobile phones; things that don't fully challenge and stimulate us, or opinions expressed on tv and radio and in the newspapers? Do we really know why certain things make us angry, or happy or sad? Do we know why we hold on to some memories more than others? When do we ever really give ourselves the oppotunity to look inwards and find out who we really are?

    I wonder if the rise in people participating in experience-led activities like paint runs, muddy runs, night-time runs and other sporting endeavours is because the rest of the time we immerse ourselves in numbing activities: activities that make us oblivious to ourselves and our surroundings. Perhaps human beings have an inherent need to experience contrast: in order to appreciate pleasure we must first understand pain? Or are we just kidding ourselves? Why do some people seem to attract/invite incredible amounts of drama into their lives? Is it only when we are facing the wall, experiencing real struggle and desperation that we find out what we're made of? That we find out if our strengths really can drive us forward, to discover if our weaknesse paralyse us or push us into action? Why do we seem to need challenge before we can appreciate ourselves?

    Or perhaps the inherent need is more physical that that: maybe we need to use our bodies, to feel them move and experience the way they perform under pressure, and in our modern world we don't have much opportunity to push our bodies, to develop the muscle memory that says, oh yes, things have been tough before and we got through it, didn't we? Perhaps the need to participate in these experience-led activities is more about practicing for any eventuality: building resilience and perseverance?

    I seem to have lots of questions but only a few generalised and probably unfair answers/guesses. It may be that jumping to conclusions might be a weakness in my character; or then again, maybe it's a strength?

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