October 18, 2006
The Last Swim of the Season
Well, it had to happen. Despite my proclivities as a polar bear, the water is just becoming too cold for me to do my daily swim. We had splendid weather last week, but now the fall has taken firm hold and thoughts of the beach, etc., will have to await another spring. Each change brings with it the sense of an ending, part of the rhythm of the human experience. So it can give us pause to take the time for some reflection about ourselves and where we have gotten to thus far in our lives.
This possibility of reflecting upon where we are, which can be occasioned by such things as the change of seasons, can be very helpful. It allows for course corrections if we find that the directions we have been taking are not working out as well for us as we had hoped. This then becomes an opportunity for the exercise of some self-examination of the positive kind — taking stock of what strengths we possess and how we have used them to our advantage or how we have not used them as much or at all in some instances.
I have talked in this column in the past about a strengths-based view of ourselves. That is, a view of ourselves as a composite of positive potentials, such as gratitude, social intelligence, kindness, loyalty, compassion, wisdom, humor, courage, appreciation of beauty, creativity and so many more. These positive strengths can and often do get buried under layers of negativity and cynicism as we progress through our lives. We lose touch with the best of who we are and then we puzzle as to why our lives are taking directions that seem so far from what our hopes and intuitions were when we were younger.
So whenever an occasion comes along that offers an excuse to take a look at where we are, we would be wise to take advantage of it. The shift from summer to fall is smoother and less intense in most ways than that from fall to winter. But nonetheless, nature forces us to change, to change our way of dress, to get used to less sunlight, etc. Those outward experiences, as I noted, can be a way of bringing our attention to the inward world of our hopes and dreams.
How far off the track do you feel you are relative to the plans and desires you understand yourself to have had in years gone by? What moved you off track? Did it have something to do with surrendering your allegiance to the best about yourself and settling for something of lesser quality?
Ask yourself when you get up in the morning: is this a day when I am going to be utilizing the best of myself? Would I choose to do so even if I find myself in a life situation at home or on the job that is not what I had hoped and wanted?
Using the best of yourself is always a great idea even in the service of contexts that don't seem to inspire you very much. It is at least a first step to retrieving some of those strengths that may have been forgotten or have been sidetracked because you didn't think or care enough to make sure to preserve them as you pursued your existence. So sit down, take a deep breath and get in touch with all the good about yourself. We'll talk more about what to do with that on other occasions. Let me know what you think.
Frank Mosca Ph.D. is a licensed counselor, life and marital coach with a practice in Hampton Bays and Garden City. Contact him for information about his seminars on putting minds in motion at firstname.lastname@example.org.