Cultivate Your Gifts
Each and every one of us has certain gifts that we bring into the world. Sometimes these are things we have carefully cultivated over time, and sometimes they are things that seem to be almost innately a part of us. In either case, the important thing is to identify what your gifts are so you can figure out how they can help support you with who you want to be and what you want to achieve.
From a pretty young age, I have had the gift of intuition. And while I have often struggled with how I’m meant to use it in my life and the lives of others, it is something that I am grateful for. While it is something that came to me naturally, I am learning as I grow that it is also something that needs to be nurtured, cared for, and explored in order to be used more fully, the way it was intended. For me, it is important to recognize this gift and to discover it in more depth because I believe that our gifts are not arbitrary but rather have either been given to us or cultivated by us for a reason.
The fascinating thing to me about gifts and strengths though is that while we are aware of some of them, there are usually numerous others about which we are kinda clueless! For example, if you had asked me a few years ago about my strengths and gifts, I could have named a few easily…and then maybe a few more with a bit more effort. One that would have NEVER made the list? Resilience. You see, it wasn’t that I thought I didn’t have this gift…I just never really thought about it.
Then, as with most things in life, I experienced a bit of adversity. Then a bit more. Then a bit more. Now mind you, I am vastly aware of how blessed I am and how my version of adversity pales in comparison to many others…but the reality is, even when our struggles may not compare to those of others, they still feel awful to us in the moment. But at some point in the process, I had an “aha” moment (thanks in part to my coach, of course)…while it felt like the challenges kept coming, my ability to navigate them was growing as well. What would once have left me frozen for weeks was now being resolved in a day or two. Then it hit me…I was building resilience.
I have since realized that one of my greatest strengths is my ability to be resilient in facing whatever may come my way. It’s not that it won’t affect me; I just know that no matter what happens, I can navigate through it and come out on the other side. And the thing that’s even MORE awesome about discovering resilience as a strength? It is now a gift not just to me but to others as well…as I am able to remain clear-headed in a crisis, navigate difficult feelings amid challenging circumstances, and (perhaps most importantly) share my experience with others in the hope that they may benefit. So in essence, the resilience I have developed is now directly serving my life’s purpose to Love Self, Serve Others. What an AMAZING gift!
But what if you really don’t know what your gifts and strengths are? What if when I ask you that question you draw a blank or think “Ummm…maybe I don’t have any?” Well first, let me start by saying that is not true. EVERYONE has gifts to share with the world, and often these gifts define who we are. So if you find that you’re having a difficult time finding yours, here are a few ideas for where you might go next:
---Think about the value you add in different situations in your life. Are you the spokesperson for your team at work? Are you the family peacemaker? Are you always finding ways to help your community? Look into those roles a bit more closely…do they help illuminate any special strengths or gifts that you possess?
---Sit quietly with yourself. Close your eyes, relax, and breathe. Don’t try to clear your mind, but do try to pay attention to it. As you breathe, think about this theme of your gifts you bring to the world, and see what pops into your mind. After a few minutes, stop and reflect on your thoughts. Even if what came up seemed completely random, it might be telling you something.
---Ask someone. No, really…ask your friends, family, or colleagues. I recently did this as part of an exercise, and the feedback and insight I received were both helpful and enlightening. When we’re stuck on something, it can be helpful to get input from others; the key is to not attach judgment to the feedback but instead reflect on it yourself to determine whether YOU feel it is accurate and helpful.
And now that you have a path toward discovering your gifts, I encourage you to take it a step further. Think about not only what your gifts are but also how you can use them to support the life you want and the person you want to be. Then consider how that can, by extension, help support those around you as well.