Can you measure your Superpowers?
Undertaking the ‘VIA Character Strengths Survey’ can reliably measure your inherent character strengths, enabling you to start developing an understanding of these characteristics in action.
Within positive psychology, personal strengths are defined as our built-in capacities for particular ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving (Linley, 2008). We all possess a personal hierarchy of character strengths that are defined within the six virtues of positive psychology theory (Seligman, 2002).
Spotlight on the Superpowers of self-regulation and zest?
Understanding your personal strengths, and the personal strengths of others, will enable you to skilfully enhance your mental fitness. Two of the 24 Strengths that Martin Seligman categorises are Self-regulation and Zest are related to the story below.
Considering the strengths of Self-regulation and Zest:
Would you say that you have identified these character strengths in yourself? or maybe someone you know?
Do you vacillate between optimism and pessimism?
Do you exert huge amounts of intense excitable energy at the start of something new, or a new project only to become frustrated irritated and inclined to give up on said project?
The Halter – a game changer
If I am honest, until recently, the agonising activity of walking our Labrador Retriever puppy, Ellie, was not something I looked forward to and I avoided the displeasure at all costs. She would instinctively and unrelentingly pull me on her lead, which only escalated when another dog appeared within her vicinity. With me physically incapable of avoiding an introduction she would exuberantly proceed to jump all over the other dogs, trying to dominate them, which customarily resulted in a tangled mess of leads with the other owner and their dog…every single time. Regardless of the other owner’s reassurance that things would improve this dance made me feel extremely uncomfortable and frustrated to say the least.
Having attended dog training sessions, doggie day care, and after trialled 3 different leads, which she resentfully chewed, things just were not improving. In the end my walking her was only possible if I wore my husband’s motorcycle gloves, which prevented her from ripping the skin off my hands. Considering my experiences and that Summer was on the way and your hands get very sweaty inside motorcycle gloves, I started to question if I wanted to keep her.
Digressing for a minute, effectively, we brought Ellie into our family to be a companion for our daughter Alora. Any prospect of Alora walking Ellie was highly unlikely given Ellie’s lack of self-regulation and over exuberant zest for life. We came to a critical juncture and had to find another way to tame her enthusiasm and excitable nature. Our daughter’s childhood was inevitably slipping away, and we so desperately wanted a puppy that she could bond with and handle. As a side note, for anyone considering bringing a puppy into your family, please understand that puppies are babies, they need caring for at all hours of the night, initially!
Talking from experience, friends of ours highly recommended switching Ellie’s lead to a halter (thankyou Kim and George who we are eternally grateful). Taking their advice has appropriately transformed our lives, allowing our family to access our dream of dog behaviour harmony. I now positively long for the opportunity of walking Ellie and Alora has subsequently experienced the joy, and will continue to feel the joy, of co-existing with Ellie Bellie Boo. Ellie is calmer and no longer choking herself out, Brazilian Jujitsu style, on the traditional leads.
How does this relate to others?
One of the other purposes of positive psychology is to bring our ideas of strengths and weaknesses into balance.
As with Ellie’s strength of Zest, and you can relate this to one of your strengths or those of people you know, sometimes positive traits or strengths may need regulating or ‘harnessing’. If left unchecked, an individual’s personality traits can sometimes be overpowering and overbearing for others. Whilst a person’s identified traits or strengths can be considered positive, when they are overplayed and not regulating or ‘harnessed’, they can become quite destructive.
What we need to consider
Being able to skillfully identify, and mindfully understanding a person’s character strengths, whether this is a family member, friend, or work colleague, and the potential for overuse of their strengths is an invaluable quality to possess. You will enjoy greater control over your interactions with people while maintaining a confident and empathetic regulation of your relationship with them.
- Focus on solutions – do not give up on people, including staff that you have hired who you know have promise. Take the time to identify and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Never focus solely on the problem.
- Keep asking yourself – “how can I positively solve this issue?”
- Keep striving toward your goal – in our case, we wanted the experience of introducing a dog into our family to be positive and for Ellie to be a respectful companion for our daughter.
We were not prepared to wait 2-3 years, as estimated by other dog owners, for Ellie to ‘calm down’ and stop pulling.
Whatever context you decide to apply this suggestion to, be mindful of what outcome you desire and how a better understanding of strengths can help you to leverage a successful approach to achieving this outcome.
Have you had the opportunity to identify your personal character strengths?
Like Ellie, is your level of enthusiasm and excitability helping or hindering you?
Do you have a different personality trait or strength that others find overbearing?
Do you need to rein in your personality traits or strength to be more approachable, effective, and therefore more productive or content?
Encouraging children to become aware of their strengths, according to Peterson and Seligman (2004), helps them to develop more self-confidence and self-awareness, as well as a deeper appreciation and value for how each of us is different. In our experience, this is clearly no different for adults.
Our Programs and Services are all intentionally designed to include valid and reliable discovery of a client’s personality traits and behaviours. If you would like to enjoy the benefits of a more skilful understanding and application of your character strengths, and how this could positively effects your relationships with family, friends, or perhaps work colleagues, feel free to reach out to us via a free, 15 minute, Discovery Call.