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Decide to Make the Most of Who You Are




Excerpted from
The 10 Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make Before 40
By Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.

There are two ways of spreading light:

to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

—Edith Wharton

You are already a marvelous package of talents, skills, experience and personality traits. The problem is that many women are far too self-critical and self-deprecating, and if you treat yourself that way you'll have a difficult time evaluating yourself objectively. Learning to think positively about who you are, and thereby making the best of each of your traits and talents, will enable you to operate at your most powerful and to be truly satisfied with the results.

The Power of Knowing Yourself

The popular book by John Gray, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, uses the metaphor of people growing up on different planets to illustrate how differently men and women perceive and react to stimuli and events. Actually, as individuals we have many more differences than those connected to gender. Even when comparing women, it often seems as if each of us grew up on a distinct planet with a completely unique approach to life. Our accumulated experiences and our individual traits combine to make us different. You may not even feel that other members of your own family are much like you. These differences can be problems in some ways, but the ways in which you are different from others can also be your greatest assets.

Taking stock of your talents, traits and characteristics is fundamentally important to using who you are to the fullest. You may have always thought you were too quiet or too talkative, too aggressive or too passive - but what happens if your reevaluate "too quiet" to mean that you're a good listener, or "too talkative" to mean you are an excellent communicator? Traits you evaluate as too aggressive can turn out to be leadership qualities, and "too passive" traits can mean you're an excellent support or follow-up person. Thinking of all the possibilities of human personality characteristics as distinct colors in a palette makes it possible to realize that each of the colors can be useful in the appropriate circumstance. Becoming aware and learning about yourself by increasing your ability to see new options and solutions increases your success and effectiveness, giving you the confidence you need to make appropriate decisions and succeed.

So how do you discover the special colors of your own personal palette?

You probably think of yourself in several roles, such as daughter, student, employee, friend, lover, perhaps mother or, on a date, even a femme fatale. None of us is just one person. At one time, hearing "voices in your head" was thought to mean you were crazy, but several decades ago many modes of psychotherapy - including psychosynthesis, transactional analysis, Gestalt and Jungian therapy - recognized that inner voices are normal and that everyone has some kind of mental commentary going on most of time. These therapies began to focus on these voices of our minds and developed methods for dialogue that creates inner harmony by resolving the conflicting ideas into cooperating parts of a mental "team." Many techniques have been suggested to help people who want to know themselves better to get in touch with these personae, including hypnosis, writing with your nondominant hand, journaling and various internal dialogues, all of which are helpful.

Another effective tool you can use is your mirror. Mirrors provide a simple way to become aware of yourself and to learn to use all your various characteristics to maximize your success and happiness. "Mirror work is very powerful," writes Louise Hay in You Can Heal Your Life. "To look yourself straight in the eye and make a positive declaration about yourself is, in my opinion, the quickest way to get results."

"To cultivate a friendship with myself I find that I need to take time each day [in front of a mirror] to sit with myself," writes Carol Putnam in an In Context article, "My Selves in the Mirror." "I continue to make new acquaintances of a multitude of sub-personalities... I recognize myself as... the Unlovable Child, the Valedictorian, the Advocate, the Helper, the Rebel, the New Age Critic...and Company From this place... I can Observe, direct and harmonize my mental physical and emotional processes... I can welcome home all the parts of me that I exiled long ago."



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