Jerald’s Top 10 

Jerald Forster’s Top 10 Self-Articulated Strengths  (as of 2/21/16)

 

My strongest strength is my overall mental/emotional health, which has components I am labeling as: (1) self-acceptance, (2) wisdom, (3) a positive perspective, (4) open-mindedness, (5) comfort with impermanence,  & (6) high self-regulation. These qualities help me deal with challenges and adversity with feelings of equanimity and well-being. Elaborations on these qualities are:       

 

1. Self-Acceptance: I accept myself as I am. I regret very little about what I have done in the past that did not work out as I expected. I recognize a number of weaknesses or inadequacies that I have, and I am comfortable with these shortcomings.  I know I have done the best I could do when I was motivated to do certain things that seemed important to me at the time.  For example, I recognize my weaknesses in verbal fluency, especially when I am trying to express complex ideas extemporaneously.  I admire the fluency and articulation of many other people, and I have always wished that I could speak like those who were especially fluent and articulate. But I suspect that my brain is not wired for verbal fluency, and I know that I have always done the best I could do. I am grateful that I am often much more clear and articulate when I am writing on a word processor. When writing, I can slow down and rewrite sentences that were disjointed and poorly structured when I wrote my first draft.

 

2. I feel that I have the wisdom that is described in The Serenity Prayer, which is the wisdom to differentiate between (a) situations when I can make a change that I feel should be made, and (b) situations when I do not have the abilities nor the resources to make a change that I would like to make. I know when to acceptwhat is,” even though I would prefer that “things would be different than they are.” I acknowledge that I sometimes wish things were different, but I realize my limitations with regard to changing what I don’t like.

 

3. I have A Positive Perspective, which is a natural propensity to attend to positive aspects of external and internal stimuli that exist in my spectrum of awareness at any given moment.

         (Example: If considering the future, I am more likely to be focused on the positive possibilities that could happen; If focused on the present, I am looking for those aspects that I want to savor; If remembering the past, I am focused on those experiences that gave me a feeling of well-being.)

 

4. I am open-minded, which I partly attribute to a constructivist-approach to reality.  This means that I realize that I am constantly constructing my own reality. This turns out to be a big deal in terms of flexibility and openness to experience. Since I am aware that I am interpreting, rather than recognizing what is going on, I am more aware that these interpretations are based on my beliefs. I hypothesize that because I am aware that my beliefs influence my interpretations, I am aware that I do not have a corner on the market of truth, which probably results in more relativistic thinking. I also hypothesize that this way of thinking results in more tolerance for diversity and for differing belief systems. I also hypothesize that subjective views of reality are the only reality that humans can grasp or know.

 

5. I am comfortable and accepting of the impermanence that characterizes human life. I realize that there is constant change in my life and in the dynamic world. I accept that I will never experience again many feelings and sensations that can only be experienced in earlier stages of life. I accept that I cannot return to many earlier situations, such as the farm where I spent my childhood.  I have a comfortable acceptance that I am going to die someday, which will enable me to face the last months of my life with peace and a feeling of thankfulness for my good fortune during earlier periods of my life.

         Example: This sense of acceptance was what happened to me during a 2-week period in 2007, between an initial (incorrect) diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and subsequent surgery removing the bile-duct cancer. I am quite sure these feelings of acceptance and gratefulness will continue as long as I live.

 

6. I have a strong ability to be in control of my feelings and actions when faced with temptations that have some likelihood of being harmful to my long-term health and sense of well-being.  I eat and drink in ways that are healthy and nutritious. I try to get all of the sleep I can get and I stay away from places where people get out of control. I am fairly good at controlling my mind and my emotions. I tend to think ahead to potential situations that might be dangerous and uncertain.  This personality quality has been called will power and it often means high self-regulation.

 

 

7. I am non-judgmental and generally accepting of people whom I encounter in life. I have very little desire to hurt, punish, or get revenge on another person. Fortunately, I do not recall experiences where another person has seriously threatened my safety or my wellbeing. I believe that people are not born evil, and I generally feel that their bad behavior has been caused or influenced by factors beyond their control.  Basically, I believe that everyone deserves my respect and my compassion. I nearly always try to think of ways I could help a person live a life where s/he could thrive. I think kindly of most people and I am not likely to prejudiced about those who are different from me.

 

8.  In the past two years, I have developed a more mindful disposition, which has been defined as “having a high level of awareness of what you are thinking and feeling in the moment.” This mindfulness has enabled me to recognize when I am feeling better than usual, and also to better articulate what I might be doing to make those good feelings happen. This increased mindfulness has probably resulted from my efforts (conjoint with those of Jennifer Rose) to develop a series of introspective activities designed to “articulate your positive identity.”

 

9. I have ability and the desire to facilitate and/or encourage others to become more aware of their positive qualities, which enables them to feel good about themselves. I do this during interactions with individuals, and I also try to do this when talking to others in small groups. I feel good when I help other people feel good about who they are.  As a more specific example of this, I have a well-developed awareness of how people are feeling in a small-group discussion, and I have good ability to facilitate the group’s focus on topics or questions that increase the total group’s level of involvement and satisfaction.

         Example: I have noticed the high level of interest and satisfaction in the Appreciating-Elderhood group, which I facilitate two times a month.

 

10. I feel very grateful for, and appreciative of, opportunities I have had which enabled me to develop the strengths described above. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunities to gain the education and then obtain the employment that enabled me to follow my interests and to optimize my potential. I appreciate my opportunity for a career in the helping professions.