We’re frequently encouraged to recognise and celebrate our strengths. But might there also be merit in taking the same approach to our weaknesses?
You know, I think there could be. I’ll explain more in a moment.
First, though, a swift update on my current progress building a tool to help lift and maintain morale.
You might remember that in March, when I asked for your help with an alternative to the word “morale” itself, the most popular suggestion was “spirit.”
It’s a terrific synonym, and I’m so grateful for your collective wisdom.
Seeking a proven structure on which to build my morale-building material, I’ve been greatly inspired by the work of Carol Ryff, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
In 1989 Professor Ryff proposed a model for psychological well-being consisting of six dimensions: Self-Acceptance; Positive Relations With Others; Autonomy; Environmental Mastery; Purpose In Life; and Personal Growth.
It should be said, by the way, that psychological well-being is quite distinct from happiness. In broad terms, someone with a high level of psychological well-being is an individual who “flourishes,” making the most of their life.
Anyway, although there’s been some recent discussion about the degree to which Professor Ryff’s dimensions are independent of one another, it seems to me (and thousands of researchers and scientists who have built on her work in the past 30 years) that they make good sense.
My one hesitation was a sense that some of the labels could seem a little scientific and complicated to a mere mortal like me.
In my own work, therefore, I’m suggesting alternatives.
Professor Ryff’s term “environmental mastery,” for example, describes the ability of someone to manage and make the most of their everyday life.
Here’s where the academic world and our amazing Moodnudges readers come together, though.
As I said, there are six dimensions in Professor Ryff’s psychological well-being model, and it just so happens that there are also six letters in the word you selected as a morale replacement: spirit.
And, what do you know, it really didn’t take much persuasion to formulate labels for the dimensions that form the acronym S.P.I.R.I.T. – Self-Acceptance; Purpose; Independence; Resourcefulness; Interconnection; and Transformation.
Resourcefulness, by the way, and for example, is my new label for Environmental Mastery.
Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?
In the coming weeks, I’ll walk us through these six facets of psychological well-being, starting today with the “S” of S.P.I.R.I.T. – Self-Acceptance. Which is where that celebration of weakness comes in.
Self-acceptance is all about adopting a positive attitude to yourself, warts and all.
It’s acknowledging that, just like everyone, you have both strengths and weaknesses.
It’s about viewing your past life in a grateful way.
And it’s about being happy with the person you’ve become.
How can you embrace weakness in a way that feels positive, though?
I believe it’s all down to the way you choose to view it.
Let me give you an example from my own life (which comes from that environmental mastery/resourcefulness category, actually).
A particular weakness of mine is being less than good about keeping up with personal admin.
Although I’m probably not alone, I’m terrible at staying on top of responsibilities like paying bills, managing my bank account, and filing paperwork.
I won’t make excuses today, just simply recognise that it’s a weakness of mine.
But how can I possibly celebrate this?
Well, in a few ways, I think.
First, it gives me an opportunity to consider asking for help. Asking for help is nearly always a healthy tactic.
What’s more, there are certainly those in life who love this kind of work, and some make money from doing so, of course.
So maybe I can find someone to support me in this area? It could help both of us.
I’ll look into it.
Second, I currently spend the time I perhaps should be devoting to my admin to creating things – like writing today’s Moodnudge, for example, which will occupy my Wednesday morning, as it usually does.
So not doing my admin allows me more time to create.
Third, simply sharing my weakness with you feels like a positive step.
Revealing my guilty secret could strengthen the connection between you and me, bringing us closer together.
I describe these steps in detail because I hope they’ll suggest a process you can try yourself.
What’s one of your weaknesses?
And how could this be turned into a cause for celebration, albeit gentle celebration?
Next week, we’ll move on to the “P” of S.P.I.R.I.T. – Purpose.
Between now and then, however, I really do encourage you to work on your sense of self-acceptance, in particular identifying the positive aspects of a weakness you may have.
Right, I’m off to ignore that pile of bank statements again.