How to Start Changing

Examining Real Evidence

Ask yourself what your five most intense strengths and five most intense weaknesses are. With examples. Bonus points if you’re specific. I’m not in this instance of this exercise. Write them down. I’ll do this too so you can better understand the process. It’s some brainwork, but it’s worth it.

When I say “strengths” and “weaknesses,” there are some things you need to ignore, such as: 1) physical appearance (although health issues and athletic strengths count–style, too, if counts for you, because that’s intrinsic to many people’s identity), 2) what others say about you unless you’re really, really, really stumped and 3) total generalizations (e.g. instead of saying a “weakness” is depression, say a weakness is one of your problem symptoms–because, remember, many things are not all bad and many virtues can serve as vices and vice versa!)

Ok so:

My top 5 strengths are: my 1. passion, (with what fervor and conviction I approach this world) 2. insight, (my advice and direction both to myself and others are often clear, respectful, and helpful) 3. creativity, (I do in art in most forms and have unusual approaches to creation), 4. love of (self-)improvement, (“How can I do this better?” What can I make better about this situation?”) and 5. empathy (I feel deeply for and deeply understand others.)
My top 5 weaknesses are: my 1. hypersensitivity (I feel very hurt very easily) 2. poor impulse control (I overspend money I do not have and often do things I know better than to do), 3. overzealousness (proof that a virtue–like passion–can double as a vice; I am sometimes too opinionated; sometimes I go too hard), 4. holding grudges (as grudges are actually very poisonous–they are harmful to the person who holds them); 5. intense emotionality, particularly empathy, anger, and sadness (another vice/virtue deal)

Ask Yourself: How do I intensify my strengths? How do I decrease my weaknesses? (PLAN.)

For me, I feel my passion (+1) is at a good level–when it works for me. It sometimes becomes too intense and in inappropriate settings (-3), which gets me into trouble sometimes. So how do I decrease the overzealousness? I can definitely start by listening more, developing more patience and tolerance, and talking less when appropriate. 

Ok, so how about my insight (+2)? That’s a never-ending project, really. So to help with that, there are some awesome articles out and about on the internet, some awesome books (and not just self-help–fiction writing can also be very eye-opening), and working on -3 will help enhance this as well!

+3, creativity. Try more, learn more, do more! There are classes at Michael’s that are sometimes free (which is all my budget can afford right now!), there’s always YouTube tutorials, online articles. While having knowledge does not make you creative, it can definitely help. (And practice!)

+4, self-improvement. This blog is definitely helping me keep focused on positive things and helps me maintain a healthful attitude. There’s definitely a lot to work on though, and reading (if you didn’t guess it already!) is a huge help for me when I can focus. So, again, articles, books, and making plans to put changes into effect.

+5. I feel like my empathy is hitting a point at maximum, but I know that’s probably not possible. I’d like to manage it more, as seen in -5, and I think the best way of doing that is actually acting on it in a sustainable way, e.g. volunteering at an animal shelter, a soup kitchen (which I want to do this Thanksgiving!), etc. Giving back in a moderated way will help me tame that empathy to the point where it is beneficial to both myself and others.

So I tied weakness and strengths in here a little, but to cover all my bases:

-1, hypersensitivity. I don’t know how to decrease that really. Exposure doesn’t help so much, as exposure often worsens it. This is I guess where DBT–or mindfulness techniques–would come greatly into play. It takes practice at emotional regulation and thought regulation for sure.

-2, poor impulse control. Keeping track of my impulses (e.g. a checkbook) is mightily essential, and I need to go back to it. Acknowledging and being mindful of the possible consequences and realizing the time it will take to recoup if I commit to the impulse also sometimes helps.

-4, holding grudges (since I wrote about -3 earlier). So I definitely need to work on forgiveness. For me, it’s not enough to understand where the person was coming from, because I have strict morals and values in my head. Forgiveness is definitely something I must explore in books and literature, in articles and etc. I have some things in my head that have worked in the past, which I will post at a later time, but I think a major component to continuing this habit is my active PTSD. I feel if I were able to resolve the major traumas, I could also resolve minor events, or at least I could resolve them more readily.

So, see? I’m pretty much playing by ear too. But the bottom line that I’ve learned is that we do have control but only for the mind-body experience we have on this earth. If you don’t like yourself, if you want your life to get better, if you want to be better, my advice to you is this:

Embrace change. Only you can make you better.



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