Thursday, July 14, 2016

Signature Strengths and Values

It is a fact that at a certain turning point of life, we have to ask ourselves this question: what is my life about? To answer this question, one needs to get in touch with his/her strength and set values. Hence the importance of this Module Signature Strength and Values in the Midlife. It is not all for at Midlife one needs skills for the challenges he/she faces.

For each of the participants to know their strengths and values a questionnaire was given to participants to view and rank for themselves their strengths in the ascending or descending order. They did so by and scored for themselves. The questionnaire pointed out some 24 values appreciated all over the world. And, the participants answering the questionnaire were to come out with five values to which they have allocated much points in descending order. This was an exercise for self-awareness of the participants’ weaknesses and strengths in a realistic and sincere manner. At the end of this interesting exercise, the Facilitator Fr James SHIMBALA, SMA pointed out that to live well we are called to serve God and his Kingdom. To face this challenge we need these important Values: Wisdom & Knowledge, Courage, Humanity & Love, Justice, Temperance, and Transcendence. These values help to build a good self-esteem and to acquire a spiritual depth.

Fr, James Shimbala facilitating the module

Self-Esteem Inventory

To evaluate their self-esteem Participants were given a check list to describe how one usually feels. Participants were asked to tick and add the total scores. The exercise helped participants to apprehend how comfortable they are with themselves. At the end of the exercise Fr. James SHIMBALA, SMA remarked that God alone gives good self-esteem because He has created us with the ideal self-esteem. So there is a need to have a realistic and honest self-esteem by accepting our weaknesses (Shadow) and our strengths.

Shadow Work

This was an invitation for integration and search for the golden pieces in the shadows (weaknesses) of our personalities. Often we have prejudices against people for what they are. So we are encouraged to bear with each other charitably else we become ‘terrorists’ to one another. Part of our shadows are instilled in our childhood hence there is a need to examine them from that stage.

We then explored 25 attributes of self and referred some to God. Participants were invited to pick one attribute of God and among those were mercy, holy, concern, provider, love, caring, compassionate… It was from these that each participant attached their inspiring story and showed how God was present to them through this attribute. Somehow at Midlife, one needs to be in touch with him/herself and to have a deep Spirituality.

Discernment of Spirits for a psycho-spiritual emerging

St. Ignatius of Loyola talked of two spirits: that one of God and that one of the Devil or of all that is sinful. Midlife is a moment of psycho-spiritual growth. This growth is enacted when we break the old shell to bring out a new, deeper life (Cf. Galatians 5: 16 – 26). This is a way of allowing our life in the Spirit to emerge. Hence Participants were invited to adopt decent way of life with time and deep reflection. In order to discern our spiritual Self we were invited to answer individually the question: Who are you? Each one is encouraged to find at least 25 adjectives/attributes that answer that question. These adjectives/attributes only describe what we are. And what we really are is our Spiritual Self who is made in the likeness of God. The adjectives/attributes can change but we remain ourselves. Thus in order to allow the Spiritual self to emerge, one needs to build an ‘inner Harmony’ in him/herself. The Interest of somebody in Midlife will be the joy and happiness of the other so that he/she portrays the Servant Leadership. Moreover he/she is inclined to engage and promote the others in order to get good results and maintain a good relationship with them. He/she embodies the values of the Institution or the Community.

At this junction the levels of the Adaptive psycho-spiritual functions were unveiled to participants. So at Midlife one has to grow from Integrity level to inner wholeness level, then to Interiority level. After that one is also expect to grow from Interiority level to Social Engagement level and then to Discipleship level and finally to Apostleship level. Besides, MASLOW’s levels of psycho-spiritual functions were also introduced. Thus at Midlife one is expected to rise from the level of Love and Belonging to Self-Transcendence. But before that he/she is to get the Level of a healthy Self-Esteem and the Level of Self-Actualization.

At the end of this module, Fr. James SHIMBALA, SMA introduced to us the Human Behavior. For that the car model of William GLASSER was unveiled. Besides, participants were cautioned against some 7 acts that one can do at Midlife. These are:

  • Punishing for revenge: it means to control other persons instead of myself
  • Threatening: that is to threaten for personal gain
  • Complaining: that is complaining about one’ condition. So let’s express our need without complaining.
  • Bribing: that is to demand a favor in a tricky way.
  • Criticizing: that is to see only the bad or negative side in others
  • Nagging: that is to exercise external control on somebody or others  
  • Blaming: that is pointing at others as the authors of one’s problems or misfortunes

Finally it is believed that Midlife is the time when we are at our highest potentialities. It is also the time to be aware that life has changed. And this change leads us to give meaning to life through one’s choice and responsibility. For example some people make choices for better or for worse and some choose not to choose. The best is to take responsibility for one’s choices instead of blaming the others for one’s problems or misfortunes

By Sr. Charity KAYUWA