via @notflipper on giphy.com
This post is the fourth part of the series ‘Musings For The Ardent Soul’ in which I aim to radiate benevolence via these documentations.
“What are my strengths?”
This is usually the question that comes after, “What are my limitations?”
Now that you have examined the chinks in your armor, reflected upon them and started striding towards amending them, it is time for you to identify your strengths, or at least one which you marvel yourself for and wish to enhance further.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
At age 11, I discovered a strength I did not know I had. My mom had invited a number of guests over, and she needed my help around the house. I waltzed around in full swing and got so much done within a couple of hours, which left my mother astounded.
That day I learnt that I had a knack for multitasking, and I have been utilizing this strength ever since within the span of 24 hours I have.
Our lives are keeping us so consumed that we sometimes neglect one of the most important sources of our happiness, and that is the act of exploring our inner self. We are more consumed by what is going on out there than what is happening inside, yet we ought to take the time to explore the world that is within us.
In order to cultivate our strengths, self development is our key. In Islam, this is acknowledged as a major type of jihad (struggle) as it consists of dispersing the (sometimes inevitable) negative emotions and impulses which thwarts our inner peace, ever so frequently. Today, with the numerous above mentioned courses at our disposal, one may assume that this can be attained at ease. And as helpful as they may be, once it ends, we are entirely on our own.
“And certainly We created man, and We know what his mind suggests to him, and We are nearer to him than his life-vein.” – Surah Qaf
Thus, when was the last time you explored your self? Man, that did not come out right. Let me try again. When was the last time you reflected on your character, and recognized the strengths you (may) have for you to put ’em out there to achieve something which is coherent with your values? Attainting perfection is unviable, as we will always remain flawed but we can constantly evolve to become a better version of ourselves for ourselves, and for everyone around us.
We can sit around for inspiration to strike us, but that is not something that will be revealed to us, just like that. It is something we ought to discover, decide and define for ourselves. Our mind is a powerful gizmo in which we can play by our own rules. Either we can uphold a pessimistic approach to life, or an optimistic one. Unveiling the talents within you is definitely a challenge, but once you get into this habit, it can be a recovering process from being ridiculed for your visions. It is okay if your vision is not clear at the start, or if it is still an ongoing process because when you talk about aiming high, as nice as it sounds, you do need to make it practical, too. Do not be too hard on yourself, as evolving is always a slow and a gradual process.
One of the obstacles we face when it comes to recognizing our strengths is our lack of involvement. When we look at the list of out potential suits, we may notice that it mostly boils down to “I do not know, as I have never tried.” Grasp every opportunity that your heart is inclined towards, and push yourself to grow by engaging in them. For instance, you would never know whether you would make a skilled diver if you have never confronted the “murky” waters before, or the yearning hearts of this realm would miss out on your heartfelt poetry if you never wrote to wake your soul.
In the course of knowing ourselves, we can maximize our strengths and mitigate our weaknesses so that we can flourish wholly. Never settle for complacency by comparing yourselves to those who are doing less, but also never settle for complacency by thinking you are not as capable as someone else. Always bear in mind that the obstacles you face can be in your favour if you find meaning in them, as they force us into situations that build us into better people as long as the focus is on how to conquer them instead of why we faced them.
Our Prophet ﷺ was the boldest of people and had the steadiest heart, and no other human could match him in his composure and resilience.
He said: Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah سبحانه و تعالى, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say “If only I had done such and such,” rather say “Allah سبحانه و تعالى has decreed and whatever he wills, He does.”
Some of the most common strengths we may find within ourselves are our intangible potencies that we usually fail to regard, although they carry the sum weight of our character and persona. Thus, start by giving yourself a pat on the back for all the effort you employ, ponder on the instances where you were faced with a tough situation, analyse how you responded to it and the finally, the aftermath. And most importantly, make sure that you utilise your strengths in causes which you hold dear to your heart, and are in line with your values. Keep your priorities in check, and always remember that Allah سبحانه و تعالى has blessed us with our abilities for a reason.
Use them, but wisely.