A 39-year-old woman came to counseling to work on self-esteem issues. She explained that she was leaving a third long-term abusive relationship. During our visit, I told her that I believe in strengths-based counseling and asked, “What are some of your strengths?” She pressed her lips together, shook her head, and a tear rolled down her cheek. “I don’t have any.” I gave her the assignment to think about strengths others would say she had. What would her former boss say? What would friends in her women’s group say? What would church members identify? She returned the next week with a list of 15 strengths contributed by 30 people. How often do we minimize or ignore our own strengths?

When we take the time to recognize our strengths, they might include being patient, humble, faithful, hopeful, full of charity and love, virtuous, diligent, obedient, and able to gain knowledge. (see Preach My Gospel, chapter 6). Our strengths might also include persistence, assertiveness, courage, adaptability, flexibility, compassionate, helpful, trustworthy, empathetic and more.

We can also learn to recognize our resilience. Resilience means being able to recover from setbacks; adapting well in the face of adversity which may include anxiety, depression, stress, relationships, addictions, healing from trauma including physical, mental, verbal, or sexual abuse; responding to threats, illness, or loss of loved ones.

Some things that help us to be resilient might be a sense of safety and security; a strong support network of family, friends, priesthood leaders, ministering sisters and brothers, teachers, employers, co-workers, associates, etc. Our resilience also comes from our strengths, skills, and experiences. In addition, our resilience is developed in our social and interpersonal relationships.

Adjusting to Missionary Life encourages us to “Serve from your strengths” (p. 18), “Think of your relationships and strengths” (p. 29), “Focus on your strengths” (p. 33), “Identify and use your strengths” (p. 35), and “Find strength in a weakness” (p. 43).

Jesus Christ invited us to follow Him and to become like Him. With the Savior’s help, we can develop our strengths and use them to serve Him and others during our mortal journey. He will even help our weaknesses become strong. (Ether 12:27)

Who Am I?

Every one of us is a unique person of infinite worth. We are all of the following parts combined together:

Biologically: our physical body, our health, strength, agility, sensory awareness, beauty, energy, etc.

Psychologically: our thoughts, feelings, memory, imagination, perception, reflection, empathy, etc.

Social: our social skills and interpersonal relationships, the ways we interact with and treat others.

Spiritual: our feelings about the Lord, about the gospel and about our own spiritual gifts.

Please take a minute to identify and write down your strengths, what helps you be resilient, and who you are biologically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually:

If you met someone who had those qualities, what would you think? Wouldn’t you think that they are awesome! Wouldn’t you think that they are someone worth getting to know! How much credit do you give yourself for being that person?

What would it be like to humbly acknowledge our strengths, not in a self-centered or narcissistic way, but to recognize and be thankful for our strengths, for our resilience, and for who we are as sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents with a divine heritage! Then we can use our strengths to help build the kingdom of God on earth, to serve one another, and to continue to grow and develop and progress and serve and love throughout our mortal life until one day when we hear the words of the Lord, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matt. 25:21.)

[Please note: The ideas contained in these articles are tools and suggestions for self-care, but they are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately.  In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]