Have you ever asked yourself, “What’s wrong with me?”
Plenty of times I bet. This kind of self-talk stems from an over-emphasis in our culture of trying to fix what doesn’t belong or LOOK like it doesn’t belong to what is considered “normal”. Turn of the century thinking led by Freud, who believed we all have basic conflicts over infantile sexuality and aggression, has given many psychologists and psychiatrists the reference point of looking at negative impulses and events to understand what makes their patients tick.₁ Hence the focus on mental illness – the “what’s wrong with me?” question.
With such a rational checklist where the idea of examining the good stuff (about a person) is excluded, no wonder pre-occupation with negative thoughts and feelings is resulting in more depression these days.
Enter positive psychology with proponents like Dr. Martin Seligman, who study positive emotion, positive traits and institutions, and the question, “What’s right with me?” becomes a natural outcome of this line of modern thinking.
Focusing on what is right with you can change your perspective on who you are and what you can do in this life. Want to know where to start? Visit www.authentichappiness.org and take the Strengths Test. It’s based on the six universal life virtues* of wisdom, courage, humanity/love, justice, temperance and transcendence (spiritual/emotional strengths) that together have a total of 24 measurable strengths. Even reading these words will have given you a surge of positive emotion as they convey all that is good about you and me.
* By the way, when’s the last time you heard the word “virtue” used? Probably in reference to a 19th century damsel in distress… when you take the Strengths Test at www.authentichappiness.org, you’ll rediscover the power of the word.
1. Dr. Martin Seligman, Authentic Happiness, New York, 2002
Kita Szpak is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.