I have just finished reading this wonderful book by Lucy Hone, ‘What Abi Taught Us’. It is a true work of beauty and gives so much practical help for anyone dealing with bereavement. Lucy has a research background in resilience and in this book she outlines how she used findings from her research to deal with the tragic loss of her 12 year old daughter, Abi.
One of the main messages that I took from the book is that we are resilient as human beings, and that we can come through trauma, stress and extreme sadness and have a meaningful, joyful life albeit that it may be different after the event that has shaken us.
In the book, Lucy introduced me to ‘Signature Strengths’ - we all have some core strengths that will support us in times of trouble. But interestingly, other strengths, which we may not have identified with ourselves, also reveal themselves.
In fact, it seems to me that in times of trauma, loss, stress, that it isn't necessarily a matter of finding inner strength that we didn't know we had, but calling on our signature strengths and knowing that we have such an array of other strengths in our toolbox that may also come to the fore.
And so, I did the VIA Character questionnaire that Lucy mentions to find my ’Signature Strengths’ (links to this questionnaire at the bottom of the blog). I was interested in how they had helped me when I had gone through bereavement and difficult times.
I was a little surprised to find out what my character strengths were after doing the survey - the top 7 were described as my ‘Signature Strengths’. I had thought I would get ones I had read about in Lucy's book like love, zest, love of learning. I didn't, I got different ones - my ones. On reflection and reading more about them from the VIA report, I realised that these strengths were at the very core of what gave me what it took to pick myself up to keep going in difficult times and in my everyday day to day life.
I have this idea that maybe it would be good to 'exercise' these strengths just like I would exercise a muscle. Keeping my core strengths in tip top shape seems a sensible thing to do for those times they may really be called upon. I also plan to 'exercise' some of the strengths that don't make my 'Top 7', because they also be useful to have in my 'toolbox' in the future. The VIA report gives ideas about how to 'exercise' these strengths.
What the VIA survey told me were my Signature Strengths
So, maybe you will be inspired to find out your signature strengths and think about how they have served you in the past and how they will serve you in the future.
Maybe you will join me in my challenge to condition my strengths , which I will call '#ExercisingMyCoreStrengths'. For example, when I post and it is appropriate, I will add this hashtag with whatever strength I am exercising. It's a matter of changing focus from may not be working for me to actually focusing on what does work for me - it's that change in perspective that I hope will pave the road to all sorts of success.
To take the free survey go to the VIA institute on Character - click here.
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