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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Know strengths; work on shortfalls

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: You often talk about a “best self” and the ways people should either live that themselves or permit others to do so. What’s your workaday definition? – Best Self

It’s when you like yourself.

Or, when you’re getting the most out of your strengths and succumbing the least to your weaknesses. It’s highly personal, but here are some ideas for cultivating strength:

Are you doing things that are meaningful to you; well-suited to your interests, skills and talents; and challenging enough to keep you humble?

Are you with people who reinforce your good choices; and who don’t inspire persistent doubts about whether they’re dependable, genuinely fond of you and free of ulterior motives? Are you that person to those you love?

Do you take responsibility for your choices and their consequences? Do you honor your promises, to yourself and others?

Do you forgive?

Are you representing yourself honestly?

Do you take care of yourself – in small ways like flossing, and in big ways like thinking through potential consequences? And do you put yourself first in ways that minimize burdening others?

As for taming weaknesses:

Do you realize your needs have the same status as everyone else’s?

Are you mindful of your flaws and demons?

Do you resist the impulse to blame others?

Do you understand the boundary between your and others’ business, and stay on your side?

When you’re about to express negativity or a criticism, do you ask yourself whether it needs expressing? And imagine how its target will feel?

When you fall short, do you admit that?

Since all of these hinge on solid self-awareness, I’d call Step 1 a brutally honest assessment of what you bring to the party – and how you’re most likely to wreck it.