February 7, 2013

Strength in your Struggle.

While in Pocatello I was surrounded by family. I was with people I love and who love me. And yet as I changed into comfy clothes and began to drift off to sleep, thoughts like this run through my mind…

Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. What if so and so thinks I’m prideful?

I hope so-and-so understood why I did that.

I wish I weren’t so quiet sometimes.

The next day I feel a little more cautious because I’m nervous about messing up. And that only makes me worry more. It’s a cycle I’ve come to recognize because these are my signature struggles.
I have them and you do too.

Here’s the upside: Your signature struggles are related to your signature strengths.

A couple of years ago my friend helped me figure that out. She asked, “Kess, what are you really afraid of?” as I expressed a list of concerns.

I replied, “I’m afraid people will misunderstand my heart and I will hurt my relationships.”
I think she giggled a bit {I like that about her} and said, “Of course. That’s because you’re all about encouraging the hearts of people. You value understanding and connection so you struggle most when those things feel threatened.”

Ah-ha! A little lightbulb went on inside my head. As I thought back to the times in the past few years when I felt the most fear it always involved that concern: Someone will misunderstand my heart and I will hurt the relationship.

To this day when I feel fear rising up within me it’s usually related to that as well.
But here’s where my friend helped me grow: I now understand why that happens and what I can do about it.

 For example, I might have an extra conversation with someone to make sure I was clear and they felt loved. Or I can connect with a wise friend and get feedback about an event so I understand how I actually came across.

Because here’s the thing: our signature struggles are not going away. They can be no fun but they support our strengths. To get rid of them would be to lose a core part of who we are. But we can learn to leverage them in two important, positive ways..

First, use your signature struggles to inform you about what matters most to you. Think of your greatest fears. Whatever you’re afraid of losing is something you highly value.

Next, use your signature struggle as opportunities to grow your strengths. You have two choices when those struggles get triggered: withdraw or lean into them. For example, withdrawing for me would mean hiding out and pulling back from people. Leaning into that struggle means making sure I connect with people in encouraging ways.

None of us like our signature struggles. I’d be glad to toss mine out my front door!

But the reality is, they’re here to stay. And they can turn out to be a gift in unexpected ways.
Think for a moment…what do you fear and what does that say about what matters most to you? How can you turn that around and make it something that actually helps you and your relationships?

XOXO, Kess

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