Capturing Strengths in a Spider’s Web ~ Really?​!

This may be the weirdest blog I have ever written. No kidding.

I don’t like spiders.

I started to say, “I hate spiders”, but I caught myself. I don’t want to hate anything nor anyone in my life, so I re-framed that self-statement​.​

I know. It is still a strong statement, but true nonetheless. As a kid, I never trusted ​the ​children’s book, Charlotte’s Web. I didn’t like to look at spiders, even a supposedly cute spider like Charlotte. The only good spider is a​ dead ​spider​. Or at least one who had the courtesy to go and spin her sticky web on someone else’s deck! ​

Now what does this have to do with positive psychology​ ​​coaching?​

One early​ August​ ​​morning, ​I ​got up my usual ​four or five a.m. As usual, I turned on deck lights. Whoa…! I sort of jumped back when I noticed Ms. Spider the first time, happily spinning her new web. Even though I don’t like spiders, curiously the next day, I began to watch her GPS-like maneuverings. I found myself caught up in watching this small spider spin her ​magic. ​​

My brain shot me a warning signal, “You don’t like spiders!”, but interestingly, I watched anyway. Day after day, I was in awe, a great positive emotion. I named her “​Super Spidy​​”​, “SS” for short. ​I though​t​ if she had a name, she’d seem more like a member of my family​. And​ ​maybe ​I would not think she was so ugly.

“Funny how my mind works”, I mused! Like how ​parsing out specific emotions and ​naming your negative emotions​ ​makes them easier to deal with and process​.​ I will always be grateful to psychology researcher, Todd Kashdan, for ​educating me​ ​about ​that.

SS stealthily attached her web to one of the spotlights. Smart thinking. Lights attract​ed​ her next meal. At first her web was a few inches across. After a ​few days​, her magic spinning erected a ​WOW​! web about ​three feet​ across. ​I even measured it! ​Talk about working with a purpose. Commensurately, her girth had expanded to about 1″ across. SS was going to need Spanx if she continued her breakfast gorging. I wondered how much larger her web could withstand her weight and the tons of bugs it hel​d​ awaiting her joyful jaws.

One day as I stood there mesmerized by her mandible mission, I actually took pause. I noticed what I was doing. How ​interesting​. Me, a spider-hater, was allowing myself to be enthralled ​by ​what I had previously told myself was a​n ​ugly spider. I began to like her. To appreciate the good in her. Hmmm…​”​​Look for the good, as Appreciative Inquiry reminded me.​

Everyday, the very second I turned on the flood lights on the our flower-haven back deck off the kitchen, I could see her wake up and shake off her rest. While she was getting ready for her feast, investigator me would see if it rained, check the temperature, or eagle eye it to ​ascertain​ if any critters were imbibing my hibiscus and other ​flower ​gems.

Then I would take my command post a few inches from her home​,​ ready to watch her launch into her eating frenzy. Diligently, after a few seconds of tiny bugs flying mindlessly into her sticky death trap, she thoughtfully initiated her eating mission. She was indeed mindful and slick before she made her ​bad-luck-for-you ​bug pick​ to goggle up.

I was fascinated by her patience. I could see her eagerly quivering urgency, but she waited. As in Buddhism, she created that sacred space in the now. Though many bugs simultaneously landed onto her no-escape zone, only the largest bugs were on her menu. There were no appetizers for her. She sought the main course critter​s​ first. Forget wasting energy on the short-suffering piddly mini-bugs, she would diligently await ​for ​the prime rib bugs. ​A g​​reat wisdom gorging game plan.​

After a couple weeks, she got huge. Rather than note her expanding girth ugliness, at least in my eyes, I admired her perseverance. ​Then I thought, “​OMG, maybe sh​e’s pregnant!”​ I soon dismissed that thought, not wanting to spoil our relationship. One of her was enough!

With masterful grit, she waited. Then she stealthily attacked​,​ lickety​-​split. How she savored her first meal of the day. Skill, talent and down right eating artistry.

I started to think about her strengths and how ​remarkably ​the​y​ were a parallel to human​s​​’.

She was a patiently creative, and zestfully industrious architect. Her web ​was a​ masterpiece of elegance and gossamer grace. Beauty and excellence at its best. How it swayed in the wind​. It often​ put me into flow. I am anthropomorphizing a tad, but I feel sure she was optimistic and grateful for her daily menu of ​bug bites​. Before she ate, she harnessed great judgment and self-regulation. Some days I thought she was bravely careful when, like a gladiator, she took on a bug almost as large as she was. ​She had a great perspective about her pray.​

Lots of flourishing strengths in spider land.

I ​decided to have some fun and ​parallel SS’s gifts to me utilizing Marty Seligman​’s ​ positive psychology ​flourishing ​acronym, PERMA​. ​I’ll ​add a ​dollop​ of Vitality, too!:

Positive Emotion.

You bet SS made me smile in wonder and awe. And to feel the other positive emotions, too: surprise, gratitude, interest, amusement, hope, pride, inspir​ation,​and yes, even micro-moments of love.​…​​remarkably,​ ​love ​from me, ​​the previous spider-hater!

Engagement.

She and I shared every morning. Me​,​ ​sporting​ intense, purposeful wonder. I’d love to think when she saw me coming to turn on her spotlight, she’d be thinking, “Great, here comes ​my meal ticket, ​Judy!”

Relationship.

No doubt we had a relationship. Maybe she was not as aware as I was, but she was a positive source of appreciation of nature for me. I related to her excellence with awe​, ​admiration​, appreciation and respect.​

Meaning.

Her meticulous web-spinning magic reminded me of life’s artistry. ​How we can re-frame our self-talk. ​What matters. Diligence. How life takes work, but it is hopeful and filled with opportunities to grow. To expand who you are. ​To savor. To look for the good and find it. To live life with purpose, gratitude, love of learning, and always hope.

Accomplishment.

Day after day, with miraculous precision, SS spun her web. She created her own sacred space to live and thrive. Even though I watched her dangle a few times, she finagled herself back on​to​ her web. Gritty perseverance.

Vitality/Health.

As an adjunct to PERMA, I’ll add Vitality/Health. Many positive psychology coaches and practitioners agree you need to take good care of yourself to fully embrace life.​ Vigor to pay your good fortune to others in your sphere.​ To energize change takes ​passionate interest, ​​sustained ​effort​ for long-term goals, ​and a healthy lifestyle​ and growth mindset​.

SS had t​his​ down. She vigorously created her gigantic spider web to assure her health. Maybe she was even preparing to feed her next tiny brood, too. Mastery, in any event.

I wish I could tell you I still enjoy spying SS in action. But nothing lasts forever. I woke up the other day to greet my now cute-to-me critter only to see the remnants of your masterpiece web literally gone with the wind. The ​late evening ​rainstorm blew her beautiful web to bits. She was nowhere to be found. I actually went outside to look for her​, b​ut she was gone.

A simple spider. I would never have dreamed she would have been such​ a ​ marvelous positive psychology coaching inspiration. Re-framing a fear to a stunning strengths constellation of admiration and positive emotion learning was a true lesson for me. I am still smiling.

​Lessons?

​Pause. ​E​njoy nature​. ​A​ppreciate your world. Feel your smiles​. Notice your ease.

So what about you?

What gets you tangled up in a sticky web of woe?

What stops you dead in your tracks when you attempt to fly into your light?

How can you ​accept your negative emotions and re-frame your story to ​ignite your strengths, positive emotions, and PERMA-V ​in​ your own life?

Why not weave just one small tier of your web. One small step to move you forward to create your sacred growth space?

If your life is filled with tangled webs or you need/want to add more positivity layers to the great life you have, I am here to help. Hope you give me a call, flash me an email or text me. I would love to watch you ​power up​ your strengths and positive emotions. Time to feed your heart, mind and soul and re-frame the name of your moving forward game!

Cheering you on to greater happiness and success,

Judy