Superheroes in Disguise
Rebecca recently had to get her vehicle registered in Arizona. She’d postponed going to the DMV because of dreaded long lines, complicated forms, burnt-out government employees, and the fear that she would not be able to complete the process despite all of her efforts to have her ducks in a row. When she got there, just as she predicted, she had to shuffle through a long line (actually two) only to discover that she did not have all of the paperwork.
So the next time that she came in-armed with all of the “right” paperwork and a chip on her shoulder-she was ready for a confrontation, convinced that not only was she again going to run into some barriers to completing the process but also that she would have to deal with indifferent and unpleasant DMV staff.
Instead, she was met by Hannah, who was radiating calm receptivity. When Rebecca got flustered because she still didn’t have the right paperwork, Hannah calmly said “Let’s see what we can do about this.” Rebecca, despite her mounting distress, noted Hannah’s calm demeanor and asked Hannah how she maintained her equanimity in an environment where people were often agitated and distressed. Rebecca said she could not ever imagine imagine herself keeping so composed and pleasant.
Hannah said that people often asked that, but she actually loved her job. She said when clients encountered roadblocks, she saw it as a challenge-“How can I help this person walk away from this situation in a better place?” Hannah said that she used to work in retail, but she found it really discouraging when customers came looking for something and couldn’t find it, either because the store didn’t have the right color or they’d sold out of a particular size. But at the MDV, when people ran into a problem, she felt like she could find different ways to try to help them get it resolved.
Shortly after her exchange with Hannah at the DMV, while trying to arrange a home loan, Rebecca came across Andrew, a loan officer, another person who was doing a job which many of us might find difficult and/or tedious. Rebecca could only meet with Andrew late after a day in which he’d been all over southern Arizona meeting with clients. When she apologized for adding to his burden, he replied “Not to worry, that’s what I do. I love it!”
When they met, Andrew said that he had done everything from collections to insurance but found orchestrating loans more rewarding. He said “I know it sounds cheesy, but iI get a lot of satisfaction when I help people clarify their overarching financial goals and then help them meet them”. Just like Hannah, he was energized by the challenge and he loved being able to provide his clients with immediate and tangible solutions.
As art therapists, we also often hear from others that they can’t imagine doing what we do–constantly facing people who are coping with loss, addiction, trauma, etc.–but like Hannah and Andrew, we get tremendous satisfaction from helping others get some hope and relief.
We suggest that you consider activities that you do that make people comment “I could never do that!” but that are effortless for you because they engage and energize you.
With that in mind, we also provide you with a new version of our “Optimizing Strengths” handout (click here to access that download) which provides a comprehensive list of strengths and describes ways that you can discover and capitalize on the strengths that engage you most.
Positively, Rebecca & Gioia
Creative Wellbeing Workshops, LLC
Think of a strength that comes effortlessly to you. This might be something that others say “I could never imagine doing that” but that is easy for you because it is just part of who you are. Find a magazine image of a person/creature that personifies that strength. Make a collage of that figure in its natural environment.