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What’s Your Superpower?

30 October 2018 - Dr Jan Orman

So much medical focus is on the deficits in people that those of us who work within the medical model tend to forget to look for people’s strengths. We may eventually even fail to see and value our own strengths as they become, in our own minds, just things that everybody has. 

Identifying Strengths

We know that identifying and acknowledging our personal strengths is something that is very important for each person’s resilience, self-esteem and mental health. Many resilience building programs focus heavily on recognising strengths. The fourth week of BITE BACK’s Mental Fitness Program is dedicated to it completely.

Imagine being a person who has no sense of any value in themselves and no ability to identify something they were good at or that made their existence worthwhile. It doesn’t sound like someone who would think their life was worth living does it?

Unfortunately I’ve met more than a few people whose self-worth was very low indeed. Sometimes they are so highly defended that any attempt to help them see any value in their own existence is met with indifference or even anger, but with the right sort of approach people can learn to value themselves a little more and understand the positive things they bring to the world.

Strengths-based therapy

In the 1990s a therapy modality developed called Strengths-based therapy. Its mantra was to ask “what’s right?” rather than “what’s wrong?”. It’s true that some people have deficits, disorders and areas of disability. Strengths-based therapy does not ignore this, and neither does it transparently spin negatives into positives. It concentrates on the parts of the person that are working well - identifies real strengths, focusses on and amplifies them.

I ran across a TED Talk recently that ever so clearly demonstrates the importance of recognising the strengths in yourself and in others. I’m not going to tell you any more than that – instead, take a look at it and then have a think about what it is that you bring to the world – what’s your superpower?

Here’s the talk:

Dr Jan Orman
Dr Jan Orman

Jan is Sydney GP, private psychological medicine practitioner in Sydney’s inner west and a GP educator for Black Dog Institute.

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