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Thursday, October 13, 2022

US Sports Psyche: What Are Your Strengths?

 -Author Dr. Bruce Wilson

Positive Psychology is defined as “the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organizations to thrive.” Positive Psychologists are focused more on the client’s assets rather than their limitations by avoiding labels and diagnostic profiles that may serve to reinforce illness. Most clients have an inordinate amount of focus on illness already; and construct an unrealistic level of value to their weaknesses. For example, a client may present to therapy with a preconceived self-diagnosis of depression and anxiety from their recent history of grief and loss of a loved one. The client then goes on to describe several recollections of overcoming adversity in their life, which they are not acknowledging. The Positive Psychologist that helps clients identify and acknowledge their strengths serves two purposes. One, you assist the client to move away from their habitual negative reinforcement of their perceived limitations. Two, you promote client awareness of their abilities to identify and move forward toward positive solutions and success rather than backtracking toward historical issues that were viewed as failure. Strengths are honed into an asset.

“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.” – Anna Freud


How do we learn to spot our strengths? It may be easier to start with spotting strengths in others to start. When it comes to identifying your strengths, the external focus is much more natural than the internal focus. However, by identifying strengths in others it will become easier to spot some similar or dissimilar strengths in ourselves. Friends and partners are a good place to start. In couples therapy many a client has benefited from focusing on their partner’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. The focus on what works rather than what does not has a distinct advantage for most relationships. Through time and repetition this positive approach to awareness will become more natural and rewarding by replacing the well-practiced negativity many people become accustomed to.

Positive Payoffs

How will focusing on my strengths help me long term? There is ample evidence that focusing on others strengths rather than their weaknesses will most likely improve your relationships. Conflict resolution will probably be less of an issue for most relationships with a strengths-based approach. Another outcome from improved relationships would be an increased sense of well-being, which includes positive emotions such as happiness, joy, contentment, wonder, and calmness. Self-confidence and self-worth will be enhanced through better relationships with others. This boost in connection may be expected to increase one’s energy levels. In addition, one’s focus is now more concentrated on the present and moving forward, and not just on one’s past. All these outcomes provide the person focused on strengths with a feeling of being more self-reliant. Through self-reliance independence and confidence are further enhanced. Over time one will also most likely become even more skilled at identifying the strengths of self and others.

Your Specific Strengths

What is the best way to start identifying your specific strengths? Start by looking very closely at what you are good at. Being accomplished at something is a positive indication that you have a strength. This awareness might lead you to several skills you have taken for granted but which have intrinsic value to your goal of focusing more on strengths. Looking at what you enjoy can also be a catalyst to strength discovery. Enjoyment leads to repetition and mastery. What I enjoy I want to do again. Mastery is another word for strength. Utilizing your variety of strengths has the potential of producing more successful outcomes. Confidence promotes new interests and a more fulfilling lifestyle. When we experience better outcomes through our choices, we increase the chance the cycle will be repeated. This allows your strengths to create new strengths, which leads to negativity and past issues having less and less influence on your day-to-day living.

Bio-Dr. Bruce Wilson is a psychologist with 25 years of experience. He enjoys sharing his ramblings with friends and colleagues. He is currently in private practice at Mind Health Care in Geelong, Australia. This article is solely his work.

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