The other day, I noticed that my seven-year-old was smelling his wrist…. Here’s how our surprisingly enlightening dialogue went:
Me: “What are you doing, silly?”
Son: “Smell this.” (Offers me his arm)
Me (relieved): “I don’t smell anything.”
Son: “Dad, it’s the smell of awesomeness.”
I love everything about that interaction with my son. I love that he has that feeling of self-regard — uncomplicated by comparison or arrogance, he just likes being himself. (I’m also saving this memory for when he’s a stinky teenager and needs to take a shower…)
Have You Lost Touch with Your Worth?
In my therapy practice, I often work with people whose views on themselves aren’t nearly so positive. I can almost see the weight of shame bearing down on them as they describe the bitter taste of their regrets: failed or struggling marriages, wayward children, and feelings of disgust with their bodies, their reactions, their secret struggles. When facing life’s challenges, it’s all to easy to lose sight of your strengths and positive potential.
I’ll tell you what I sometimes tell them:
If I were seeking help, I’d find someone who knew that I am more than just the sum of my regrets and deficiencies. I’d find someone who could help me not only address my challenges, but also support me in harnessing my resilience, appreciating my strengths, and magnifying my gifts. One of the things I love most about my work is the precious chance to help people rediscover the best parts of themselves. Can we work together to do this?
The Best Use of Your Gifts
Even if you have a feeling for what your gifts are, you may fear embracing your inner-awesomeness. You have probably been taught to avoid big-headedness. Although I’m no fan of egotism, I think we can also take things too far in the direction of self-deprecation. As Marianne Williamson expressed, “We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.Your playing small does not serve the world.”
We need better alternatives than conceitedness or shame. Try this on for size:
Your gifts, big or small, aren’t just for you to enjoy (though that’s certainly part of their purpose). They’re given to you so you can share them with others.
Steven Pressfield said it this way:
Creative work [and magnifying your gifts] is not a selfish act or a bid for attention…. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” — from “The War of Art” (emphasis added)
As Jesus said, “let your light shine.” We need it out here.
Whether you’re Christian, Buddhist, Humanist, or something else, it’s good advice. Both your life and the world will be richer for your contribution. No one else can make it for you.
Use Your Awesomeness to Make a Difference
You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy,
Mix them, mix
— excerpt from “To Build a Swing” by Hafiz
What contribution, big or small, do your talents ask you to make in the world? Leave your answer below—I’d love to hear from you!