Traditionally, psychology has focused primarily on eliminating symptoms, something that patients demand when they come for consultation. In this way, if you have depression, you demand to remove the sadness and hopelessness, and if for example you have anxiety (with breathing difficulties, palpitations, etc) you want to remove the anxiety.
In my view, if psychological treatment focuses exclusively on the negative (“I take away the bad and that’s it”) it is incomplete , since it only focuses on the elimination of what creates discomfort without working on the positive, the possibility of developing strengths.
Treatment should not only be aimed at “eliminating suffering” but also at enhancing the resources available to us and cultivating positive feelings and thoughts.
Psychology to develop strengths
In addition to using techniques to control the symptoms (relaxation techniques, thought modification techniques, problem solving, self-control…) it is necessary to develop in the person the ability to enjoy, the ability to recognize the meaning of one’s life, personal abilities, optimism…
In this way, not only are weaknesses compensated for and wounds healed, but skills are developed that the person can use in the future . Moreover, in this way it is also possible to work in a preventive way (not only from a model of “cure if there are symptoms” in subjects such as violence or drug consumption.
From this position, positive emotions are cultivated in three temporal moments: in the past, valuing it positively so that it generates well-being; in the present, to be motivated and to flow; and in the future to look at it positively with hope and optimism.
One can have positive emotions in one moment of time but not in others: For example, one can feel calm in the present and have little hope for the future, or look forward to the present and future but be dissatisfied with the past. The important thing is that this is something that can be cultivated .
Learning to gain autonomy
If, for example, it is the past “that catches up with us”, we can learn throughout therapy to rewrite our history in order to follow our path . In the case of the past, our feelings are totally determined by our thoughts, by the interpretation we make; therefore, by rewriting the lived history, feelings change.
We can reflect on these three times: in the past, what I did long ago that I am proud of; in the present, write down 3 positive things for example from today; and in the future, what I would like to do in the short term and in the long term.
24 personal strengths
Strengths are psychological traits and characteristics that occur in different situations and over time and can be trained and therefore improved. They are as follows.
Strengths involving the acquisition and use of knowledge
1. Curiosity , interest in the world.
2. Love for knowledge and learning (continuous tendency to acquire new learning).
3. Judgment, critical thinking , open-mindedness (thinking about things and examining all their meanings, without drawing conclusions at random).
4. Ingenuity, originality , practical intelligence (thinking of new and productive ways of doing things).
5. Social intelligence , personal intelligence, emotional intelligence (knowledge of oneself and others).
6. Perspective (being able to help others solve problems and get perspective for themselves).
Strengths that imply the achievement of goals in difficult situations
7. Courage and bravery (not being intimidated by threat, change, difficulty or pain).
8. , perseverance , diligence (to persist in an activity even if there are obstacles).
9. Integrity, honesty, authenticity (taking responsibility for one’s own feelings and actions).
Strengths that involve caring and offering friendship and affection to others
10. Goodness and generosity.
11. To love and be loved (to value intimate and deep relationships with others).
Strengths of Healthy Community Living
12. Civility , teamwork, loyalty (working well within a team or group of people, being faithful to the group and feeling part of it).
13. Impartiality and fairness (not allowing personal feelings to bias decisions about other people).
14.Leadership (encouraging the group one is a member of to do things and strengthen relationships between people in the group).
Strengths that protect us against excesses (temperance)
15. Self-control (ability to regulate one’s feelings and actions, to have control over impulses and emotions).
16. Prudence , discretion, caution (not to say or do anything you might later regret).
17. Modesty, humility (do not try to be the center of attention or think yourself more special than the others).
Strengths that provide meaning to life (transcendence)
18. Appreciation of beauty and excellence (knowing how to appreciate the beauty of things, of everyday life or being interested in aspects of life such as nature, art, science).
19. Gratitude (being aware of good things that happen to you and expressing appreciation).
20.Hope, optimism, projection into the future (expecting the best from the future and planning for it).
21. Spirituality, faith, religious sense (having a philosophy of life, religious or not, that places you as part of the universe in general, having a purpose in life).
22. Forgiveness (forgiving, giving others a second chance).
23. Sense of humour (likes to laugh and make others laugh, sees the positive side of life).
24. Passion, enthusiasm .