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Focus on your positive attributes

Neil RosenthalVail CO, Colorado

Editors note: This is the first of a two-part series. If you are like most of us, you focus most of your personal attention on your problems and your challenges on the things that arent going so well in your life. Things such as relationship troubles, financial worries, career stumbles or dead-ends, gaining too much weight and health challenges, to name a few.When do you take time to focus on whats right; on what makes you feel happy, content, satisfied and joyful? We celebrate occasions: birthdays, births, weddings, housewarmings and promotions. But how about celebrating a year of good sex? The risks you took that worked out well? Paying another year off on your mortgage? That despite your medical challenges, you are still alive and kicking?In truth, you are still as creative, as brave, as precocious, as self-confident as you were when you were two, or 10, or 20. If you look carefully at yourself, you will see that your natural gifts and attributes still shine through. The following questions come from Carlene and Carolyn Deroos book Whats Right With Me? and they will help you to rediscover your gifts and attributes, and to look at your life with kindness and curiosity. Write your answers as extensively and as in depth as you can to the following questions: What two things do you secretly believe you are good at but never tell anyone? Are you a great kisser, for instance? Good at math or driving around curves? What have you invested time in exploring? (Nutrition? The mountains? Sailing? Spirituality? Child-rearing?) What have you worked very hard for? What aspects of you do others appreciate? (Are people amazed at your patience or your humor?) Think of a time that you said yes to something that you wanted, even if it meant some sacrifice or complication. Write down one physical activity that you are good at. (You can call yourself a good swimmer even if you havent been in a pool for years.) Recall a creative capability. (Do you make crafts? Cultivate a garden? Paint? Raise children?) Record a social skill that you possess. (Are you good at staying in touch with friends or putting people at ease?) Which self-care activities do you do? (Do you exercise regularly? Do you get therapy when you need it?) Think of a risk you took that paid off. Write about one bad habit that you have that someone else has appreciated. (This should be something that is not injurious to you or others.) Look back on a compassionate act or a moment of understanding toward yourself or another. What did you do? What enabled you to do it? When have you surprised yourself with your own courage? Recall some accomplishment from your different stages of life. What made you feel like you were good at something from your teenage years? As a young adult? From mid-life? As an older adult? What did you like about yourself at different ages, both when you were at that age and upon reflection now? As a child? As a teenager? During your 20s? As a person in mid-life? As an older adult? What did you do to survive a difficult time? What skills do you use to get through adversity? What do you like about yourself now that was hard to like in the past? What have you gained from a childhood challenge? What are the best decisions you have made?Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Denver and Boulder, specializing in how people strengthen their intimate relationships. He can be reached at 303- 758-8777, or e-mail him from his Web site, http://www.heartrelationships.com.


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