Last night I put a post on Facebook asking friends the following question: “In three words, how would you describe me/my personality superpowers?” The responses to this request were unexpected, both in number and in content.
I love to learn and study so it isn’t unusual for me to be taking a course or reading up on a topic or practice that interests me. The inspiration for this social media request came from an assignment in a yoga course that I’m currently working on. The instructor suggested asking your friends which 3 words they feel describe you best as part of an exercise to determine core values. Rather than pick out specific friends and message them individually, making them feel obligated to say nice things about me, I decided to open it up to the Universe at large (at least my Facebook universe) and see what happened.
I posted it last night and then started reading a chapter of my latest book on minimalism (which is awesome by the way! The Joy of Less by Francine Jay, in case you’re interested), and promptly forgot about it until this morning when I was mindlessly checking what’s happening in the world according to the latest algorithm for the info I get to see.
When I saw the notification that 23 people had commented I was shocked! I had expected maybe 3 or 4. When I actually read the comments, I was humbled and a little emotional, if I’m being honest. When I saw the names of some of those who commented, I was pleasantly surprised and inspired to write this blog about the whole experience.
As a Coach, I’m very familiar with the art of giving and receiving feedback and I recognize that it can be really uncomfortable to open yourself up to being on the receiving end of feedback. Even positive feedback can feel really awkward sometimes and I was feeling a lot of different things as I read what folks wrote for the three little words. I felt so much gratitude to everyone who took the time to write the comments, but more than that, I felt a tremedous serge of gratitude for the GIFT of these words.
Some of the words weren’t unexpected and I was glad to see that a lot of the core values which I carry, and hope that I embody in my interractions with the word were there such as honest, trustworthy, loving, compassionate, kind, authentic and genuine. It was also nice to know that I am seen as hardworking, intelligent, flexible, organized and a problem solver. Being described as creative as heck, thoughtful, funny, positive and compassionate are pretty freaking cool too. This exercise was definitely an unexpected boost for my “ready for Spring and tired of Winter weather” spirit!
I also discovered words in the list that I would never have chosen for myself including wise, warrior, strong, beautiful and fierce. I absolutely love and appreciate that there are people in my circle who have seen anything resembling those qualities in me so I have been mulling them over this morning. One of the many hard parts of feedback is acknowledging that sometimes there are things you don’t see in yourself that are visible to others.
I’m kind of flightly in my own artsy way and I would never have thought of myself as wise. Sometimes I am quite impulsive and I act before thinking things through, with mixed results. 🙂 Some things have been amazing experiences to treasure and some have been costly lessons, never to be repeated. As I read that last sentence, I realize that there is wisdom that comes from both of those types of experiences and perhaps, I should own the word wise for myself after all.
Warrior, strong and fierce are all amazing words and I was flattered to see them in the list, but they actually made me squirm a little because I haven’t felt strong or fierce for a long time and my inner warrior has been found hiding in a corner weeping sometimes, afraid to do things. Five years ago this year, I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder, which was result of an injury, loss, a few situations and stress which had been building up for years before that. Five years ago was just when I reached a breaking point. (There is something that feels fierce and strong about writing those words for anyone who reads this to see. Deep breath, Tanya….)
In the last five years, I have at times felt weak, broken, ashamed, afraid, worried, angry and defeated. There’s also been a lot of joy, many successes and causes for celebration but the words “I can’t” have surfaced in many situations and stopped me from doing things that I used to do or from trying some new things. During the last three years, I have rebuilt a lot of my inner warrior’s armour so she cries a lot less and doesn’t say “I can’t” so much anymore. (Those sappy commercials in TV still get some tears, but that’s just how it is.) I no longer need the help of a prescription to feel calm, haven’t had a panic attack in a really long time and I am feeling more content as I creep ever closer to fifty than I have in my entire adult life. To those who said the three little words warrior, fierce and strong, thank-you for reminding me that those are part of me too.
I also wouldn’t describe myself as beautiful. If you asked me how I feel about my looks, I would say I feel that I’m kinda cute in a voluptuous sort of a way, but looking at all of the kind and wonderful words from my friends that I’ve listed in the pages of my notebook, I feel a kind of beauty that is soul deep. Thank-you for that gift.
The most fascinating thing about the entire exercise is the cross section of people who took the time to respond. It’s an amazing cross section of my life and I am just so grateful to be reminded of where I’ve been and the amazing people I’ve met along the way. The responses came from family members, close friends who know me better than I know myself sometimes, former co-workers from several different jobs, some more than 20 years ago, people I met through events and classes, former patients, current clients and even one person who I have met in person only one time! This curated collection of amazing people is truly a gift and I’m humbled and grateful to be part of each others’ stories, even if it is in a small way.
If you have the chance to ask the same question of the people in your circle, I hope that you’ll find the exerience to be as heart filling, enlightening and interesting as I have. There is so much power in our words to ourselves and to each other. As I move on with my day, I send these two, three little word sentences to myself, the people who took the time to answer my random question, and to all the people whose stories have crossed paths with mine: I love you. I thank you.