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?