Celebrating Our Gifts

Celebrating Our Gifts

A fellow blogger, Cymbria Wood who writes “Blank Canvas Living”, brought my previous article, “Weaknesses Equal Strengths” into a whole new context for me with an example of her own personal application.  She cited an “extreme” trait, once considered a hindrance, as being a blessing on the flipside.  She was then able to generalize the concept to another “extreme”, which provided her with an additional strength.  It is proof positive that throughout the execution of altering one thought, the practice generalizes and builds upon itself into a whole new skill set.

What she related also had a significant tone of acceptance.  There was an understanding that some of her traits could be considered to be “extremes”.  The value, “Everything in moderation” cited in “Brave New Mind” is applicable to actions, not to personality in general.  We are who we are, with both deficits and abundances.  In “Weaknesses Equal Strengths”, we explored the flipside of both.  In this article, we seek to celebrate that flipside!

Terming something as an “extreme” brings many negative connotations to mind.  “Extremism” is seemingly synonymous with fanatical, immoderate, uncompromising, excessive, or even violent.  It begs the question, “Extreme, so why can’t you dial it back?”  That’s the same as saying, “You’re extremely tall, so why can’t you shrink a little?” or even, “You’re extremely short, so why can’t you grow a little?”  Again, we are who we are, short, tall, big, small, pale, dark, etc, etc.  We have long since stopped discriminating against those who are physically different.  Why should we continue to discriminate “extremes” of a mental nature?

Instead, we could think of the extremes as abundances, even if others have defined some as “deficits”For instance, I am not great at advanced mathematical concepts, such as algebra and statistics.  We can flip the same “math” coin to see the advantages I have with simpler and more tangible math.  My husband can churn out equations at a genius level.  But, I have the advantage over him in computation of simple percentages and geometric measurements.  The difference between us is his grasp of complex, interdependent relationships and my grasp of more concrete concepts.

There exists a common societal ideal that we cannot be well-rounded individuals unless we shift our efforts from refining our abundances toward “improving” on our shortcomings.  It’s a rigid principle that encourages us to classify traits and abilities into strict bins of “successes” and “failures”.  It’s not that black and white.  I’ve written it before, and I’ll reiterate, “As long as I’m trying, I’m succeeding.”  With that value, we can move toward redefining our own self-image so we can celebrate ourselves and our abundances!

A great launching point is in the primary philosophy of education strategies with developmentally delayed children.  Instead of zeroing in on the delay, professionals and parents are encouraged to identify their abundances, usually termed as “gifts”.  Then, those gifts are nurtured until they can be applied to other developmental areas.  Once generalized, we can begin to see a globalized growth across all domains.  Truly, it’s a brilliant strategy that I feel is underutilized.

Just as each child has a gift, we all have our own aptitudes.  Personally, I excel in artistic areas.  Creative pursuits have always come naturally to me.  A little effort really went a long way.  I went on to develop skill sets in music, writing, crafting, and graphic arts.  However, because my “shortcomings” had been defined for me in other areas, I was discouraged from attempting to develop them through my own means.

It was only when I started to notice my own aptitude in martial arts that my own ideas changed.  At one time, I really only viewed it as being dependent on a physical skill, of which I was under the impression that I was sorely lacking.  However, it is so much more.  It requires a certain amount of creativity to translate technical skill into practical application.  For instance, I’m small, so some of the techniques learned in the curriculum wouldn’t be effective in a real situation.  Therefore, I have to get creative on how to modify them for my own body type.

If an abundance of one skill / trait can generalize to develop a skillset considered to be belonging to an opposing activity / trait, what else can it be applied to?

Let’s celebrate our gifts!

I am determined, and I’m proud!

I feel deeply, and I’m proud!

I think abstractly, and I’m proud!

I am detailed, and I’m proud!

I am involved, and I’m proud!

I try hard, and I’m proud!

I care abundantly, and I’m proud!

I am generous, and I’m proud!

I am very aware of my physical existence, and I’m proud!

I freely express ideas, and I’m proud!

What are you proud of today?

12 thoughts on “Celebrating Our Gifts

  1. And I’m proud of you for this post, for how very far you have come. 🙂

    • Over the last few weeks, this was all really put to the test. I’ll talk about it in some later posts, because I think it’s really important to talk about the application. It’s not easy, but it can never be a go-to thing unless I keep at it and truly believe in it.

      I persevered and gained everything I had hoped for. But, when I saw what kind of shape the people I loved were in, I knew that I had a difficult choice. No one forced an ultimatum or put on a guilt trip. In fact, those around me were more than supportive. But, I knew it was up to me to do the right thing.

      I had to dial it back. What was the right thing? It wasn’t really clear. But, I knew that I wanted to do right by my family. Not because of obligation, but because I really love them. I gave up something I thought that I’d really enjoy for the people that I love. They need me in a different capacity right now.

      And for once, I felt like celebrating me, because I know in my heart that I willingly chose to do right by others completely selflessly. Even though I still get pangs of anxiety when I have a shadow of a doubt about whether I made the “right” choice, I know that I acted in the best interest.

      It made me want to get back to the Wellness Series, and continue to move into the Adaptive Strategies Series, as well as unveiling the Happy Friday series. It made me appreciate my life as it was. I don’t have to be constantly striving toward more or thinking about me. Sometimes, it’s better to be in a support role, somewhere comfortable, somewhere rewarding and appreciated.

      Thanks for the comment! And I’m glad I had the opportunity to share!

  2. Really awesome post 🙂

  3. There are many people who would love us to feel our strengths are weaknesses,because they want to see us buried(metaphorically) or because they feel weak and can’t stand anyone being strong.
    One small thing I would question though, is the idea that our society has got past treating people who are physically different differently, because I am with someone who is physically disabled and I see some of the ignorant things some people still say or do in regards to that.

    • I’ll respond to this backward, because sometimes the most immediate idea is the most pressing.

      True, there exists a population that are still ignorant to the unique needs and challenges of those that are physically different. Honestly, I really think it is truly ignorance that drives those disrespectful behaviors.

      But, here’s how I’m sure the tide is turning. I worked as a teacher in a very disadvantaged neighborhood. I had to put my son, who has autism spectrum disorder, into a mainstream preschool for the first time. I was terrified that the other kids would give him a hard time and pick on him, just like the kids did when I was little. I remembered how they treated my brother, and how he was essentially forced into a life of social isolation as a result. Beast is a particularly sensitive little boy, and I would’ve rather died than watch him go through that.

      The teachers all assured me that he’d be fine. I checked in regularly, and the response was always like, “He’s doing great!” I didn’t really believe them, so I went there to sit in one day. The kids loved him. They were so eager to take care of him. His teacher actually told me, “He’s practically a rockstar around here!”

      Some of the kids even told me things they noticed about him that I hadn’t even considered. They pointed out when he was excited or nervous. It was incredible that these kids were so aware and accepting that they had come to know my son better than me!

      Sure, there were older kids that still bullied other kids. But, they had become fewer and fewer. And, if preschoolers were getting the hang of inclusion though they recognized differences, it would really only be a matter of time before they grew into adults that encourage their own children to do the same. In the meantime, those of us who are “different” need to continue to stand out and press our agenda of public awareness.

      It all starts with a negative attitude and an incompatible personal value system that a person likely doesn’t evem agree with. Our society currently (but like I said, not for long) demands conformity and achieves that through the promotion of a negative, defeatist outlook. When anyone steps out and says, “I’m going to try to achieve”, it is immediately met with opposition. And a no-win situation is conjured just so the powers that be can reinforce that defeatism with the “I told you so” dance.

      No one wants their face rubbed in it. So, most people put their heads back down and refuse to go through the pain and embarassment again. But, who says it’s painful? Who determines what constitutes humiliation? That’s the only way that a person can truly begin to break free, by dismantling their own value system to align with how they really think and how they honestly feel.

      That’s just it. People fear others who appear to be “in control”. That’s the societal function of power. Have you ever felt nervous when a police car passes, even though you know you haven’t done anything wrong? It’s a mechanism for submission. But, dismiss the illusion of control. Who has the power now? We all do, over ourselves. And we don’t have to play by someone else’s rules anymore.

      It’s only the people pushing their own agenda that resort to such deviancy. They feel weak, because they know they are reliant on others to carry out their will. As long as they can destroy other people’s self-confidence, they will always have someone at their disposal.

      The best thing we can do is hold onto our self-respect. That’s the first thing bullies try to convince us to willingly discard in the name of modesty and humility. Self-respect is the key to everything, and I’ll go into that in another article.

  4. Reblogged this on onbeingmindful and commented:
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!! Now to practice seeing the flip side of the extremes and then CELEBRATE!

  5. Ah yes. It always make me sad when people spend time fretting about what what qualities they don’t have instead of using that time to be happy about the qualities they do have. It’s just a matter of looking at things in a different light. But we are told to look in the wrong place for things to be proud of.

    Great post!

    • You are so right. We spend so much time trying to quantify and qualify immeasurable things, just because we don’t know any other way of going about it. I’m happy to be me. I don’t need a why. A better why would be why should I be unhappy about being me?

      Thanks so much! 🙂

  6. This reminded me of a book I read this year about the value of introversion. Long considered less desirable than extroversion esp in the corporate world. It was a great reminder that society is flexible and often changes what it decides is of value.

    • Introversion used to be highly valued, because it was thought that those people were more focused and studious. In today’s world, it’s all about the social networking and internet presence. I am a sociable person, but I’m not comfortable sharing the intimate details of my life. I’m conversational, but private. It makes social networking difficult.

      But, in some ways, the refusal of disclosure really saves me from accidental oversharing. Many people have ended up irreparably damaged from scandalous photo. Another great save is being well hidden from public view. Prospective employers won’t find me anytime soon. There’s a lot to say about a person who seeks to maintain a little mystery!

  7. I’ve always said… Birth is not a moderate act. Death is certainly not a moderate act. So why are we always trying to force the acts of life into moderation??

    Lulu, as you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m a huge advocate for using language to boost our personal power. I love the idea of replacing “extreme” with “abundance”!! Automatically, the brain associations flip and give us a sense of pride where before there was a sense of… I’ll just come right out and say it… shame. From this moment forth, I am officially making this my new vocabulary of self! …ps: Thanks for the shout-out!

    All my life I’ve been told not to get so excited about upcoming events/treats/occasions. “If you didn’t get so excited you wouldn’t be so disappointed when things don’t work out,” they’d say. Sometimes they were people who loved me and didn’t want to see me hurting. Other times they were the people who’d disappointed me and didn’t want to feel so guilty about it. But you know what? When I’ve built my anticipation to fever pitch, it pushes me to max out my sensory/emotional engagement in the situation in question, which inadvertently serves to bring the people around me into a whole new appreciation of the gifts of that moment. Which is to say… I can really get the party started lol!

    I’ve heard so many people say, “Reality never lives up to fantasy.” Because my particular abundances allow me to engage so deeply with my ‘reality’, it very easily, and often, outshines my anticipation fantasy. Cruisin’ near mid-line to protect oneself from emotion is fine if you’re genetically coded for it, but I believe it’s truly a blessing to allow oneself the freedom to feel the depths and heights one is coded to feel. Obviously, there is a limit here, and safety and sanity must never be compromised in the pursuit of one’s most honest self! But there is a way to feel without needing to automatically react to these feelings. Yes it takes training and discipline, but is so worth the time and effort. In your experience of martial arts, have you found it’s given you more of a space to think and experience emotion without having to act it out?

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