Debbie Pask, Life and Business Coach, is an expert on mindfulness and connecting people to their career/life purpose so they are energised, focused, nourished and confident. Read below her as she shares how to fall in love with your best traits.
The best romance you will ever have is with yourself. And when you think about what it means to have a love affair with you, it boils down to two key parts that cannot be separated.
1. Recognise and love what is brilliant about yourself. Enjoy your talents and figure out your unique and intuitive abilities. I call this your ‘X Factor’.
2. Understand and appreciate what is challenging about yourself (worst traits) and fall in love with that too. I call this your “shadow” and it will give you a huge clue into what makes you truly brilliant.
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Most people I talk to shy away from the first part involving the question ‘what are your greatest gifts and talents?’ It seems we are often humble to express what is good and amazing about us. Yet, we all have plenty to say on the topic of what we lack or don’t feel competent doing. Examples include public speaking, body image complaints, ability to lead a team, express an idea or take a risk in love. What we all don’t realise is that these shadow aspects or negative traits can reveal our talents and aptitude for success if we just dared to understand them, flip them and integrate them.
Of course the next question is ‘how to do I understand my shadow, flip my shadow and integrate my shadow to find my X Factor and then fall in love with it?’. In my book Zenful Business, I dedicate a whole chapter to shadow work and how you can uncover the strategy behind the road to success. But here is my short-cut ABC guide to giving it a go.
1. Understand your shadow
Write down something you struggle with or an aspect of your personality you don’t like. Choose something juicy so it’s the kind of trait you hide or rarely show others. That might be rage or jealousy or self-criticism. Take the time to reflect on what you dislike about it and how it negatively affects your life – whether limiting your growth or preventing your happiness. Your heart will feel heavy, and you will feel a certain level of inner grief around how much you feel held back, judged and controlled by this trait.
2. Flip your shadow
Now, think about that same trait and see how it provides you with positive benefits. Everything that has a front also has a back, so there is a positive outcome if you dig deeper. For example, if you are highly impatient and easily frustrated – the flip would be that you do take responsibility and control, get things done, make your own destiny and often tick off your ‘to do’ list. You don’t let anyone else around you impair your plans. Want something done quickly and responsibly? Don’t give it to a procrastinator; rather choose the busy, impatient person. If you have confidence issues, then it is likely you try twice as hard as anyone else to study, learn and build the skills to be the best you can be. You are dedicated, analytical and seek education. You are more skilled than the quick talking or arrogant sales person who doesn’t attempt any self-improvement. You might also be quite down to earth and a good listener for others, making you a fantastic friend and counsellor. Starting to play on the positive side of the fence will help you appreciate your negative traits and start to use them positively in the ‘light’ as opposed to keeping them hidden and suppressed in the ‘dark’ which only makes them explode more aggressively at inappropriate times.
3. Integrate your shadow
Integrating your shadow means that you can clearly see the benefits of that supposed negative trait and you wouldn’t want to throw it out in the trash because you now respect what it does give you when used in the open. You can appreciate that trait for what it truly is. Integration is like shining a big bright torch on that shadow lurking in the dark and embracing it back toward you with love. Once it becomes respected and connected to you positively, the shadow finds it hard to survive in darkness, and it melts away. When it starts to attempt a resurrection, observe and notice the patterns and choose to stay on the positive side of the fence. Keep your shadow close to your heart and loved properly and it will become your loyal aide, as opposed to your hidden enemy.
How does this convert to our brilliance? What we most struggle with (our shadow) is ultimately what we are here to teach. The reason we struggle is so we can experience the challenge firsthand and acquire deep perspective and wisdom. There is never a better person to counsel an alcoholic than a recovered one who knows every inch of rehab pain! Your negative traits will truly give you the medicine of what you need to be your shiny best. Give it a go and fall deeply in love with your full self…warts and all. They hold the keys to magic.
Written by Debbie Pask – writer of book Zenful Business: 11 Models For Flow and Peak Performance at Work.