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When it comes to mental health and substance use issues, there may be discussion of the idea of “disorders” which are defined as “abnormal conditions.” For this exercise, however, we will discuss the exact opposite of disorders which we will call “orders.”  If disorders are “not normal” then orders are things that are going well or better than normal. (Compare: the opposite of dislike is like- the opposite of disorder is order)




On the following page, review the list of “orders” and identify if you may have any of these special abilities and skills. There may be some ideas of your own that you are better at than most people so feel free to list them as well in the space provided.


When everyone is done reviewing the list, discuss everyone’s “orders” (special abilities) from the list as well as any ideas that people came up with on their own.


Closing Questions for Discussion


When the group is done discussing strengths from the orders list, review the following as a group:


§  What does it mean to be “strengths-based” (In case anyone does not know, being strengths based involves making an effort to first consider strengths. It is an optimistic way of looking at things by considering what skills and advantages you have, rather than just focusing on what is limiting or holding you back)


§  How can taking a strengths-based view of yourself be beneficial to achieving your goals?


§  Sometimes society tends to “pathologize” which involves looking specifically for disorders. Although it can be important and helpful to diagnose and recognize disorders, why should we also make an effort to also diagnose and identify our special abilities too?


§  Which of the orders from the list that were discussed…


…. Do you feel the proudest of?


… Are the most helpful or useful to you? (and how so?)


§  Can you use any of these to enhance your own process of recovery and positive change? (Think in terms of coping skills - what “orders” can help you cope and thrive?)


§  Finally, are there any other ways you can use your orders (special abilities) to enhance other areas of your life (such as career, family, relationships…)


“Orders” – (The opposite of “disorders” – Special areas of strength, skills and ability)

Outcome Predictor – You can size up what is happening and accurately predict how things will probably turn out.

Natural Dancer – Moving to music with natural grace and ability while looking good doing it with little effort.

Music Master – Learning instruments quickly and easily with less effort than most

Sense of Humor – Make people laugh easily as being funny comes easy.

Evil Detector – Can sense when someone is out to harm or has bad motives.

Wheeler Dealer - Able to negotiate buying and selling effectively.

Room Surveyor – Master at reading the room to figure out the general vibe of groups of people.

Sincere Persuader – Able to talk people into supporting your ideas (without lying)

Social Charisma – Able to get people to feel comfortable with you and even like you.

Scam Sensor – Ability to sense when someone is trying to rip you off.

Trouble Tracker – Able to sense when something problematic is about to go down before it starts.

Self-Silencer– Ability to know when not to speak and to keep mouth shut when needed.

People adapter- Can effectively change approach to people naturally to bond with many diverse types.

Listener – Can listen and take an interest in people and make them feel heard and validated.

Poker face – Can listen to shocking things without overreacting or showing it on your face.

Fun Instigator – Can make something fun even when it at first seems dull, boring or stressful.

Calm Coolness- The ability to stay calm when everyone else may be getting stressed, worried, angry or agitated.

Super Organizer – The innate skill of making order out of chaos and arranging things systematically.

Conversationalist – Can make small talk or deep discussions with just about anyone and any topic.

Photographic memory – The ability to recall images with great detail after just a brief exposure.

Number cruncher – Exceptional ability with mathematics and solving math problems quickly.

Empath – Ability to exceptionally understand other’s thoughts, feelings and viewpoints.

Emotional Intelligence – The ability to recognize and manage your emotions and use this in interactions with others.

Exceptional Memory – The ability to hold on to information and facts for long periods with great accuracy.

Artistic – Expression of self with art in a way that resonates with others.

Problems Solver - Can produce ideas and solutions to problems that others might not have considered.

Endurance: Stamina and the ability to keep going even in the face of high stress or challenges

Animal communication: Ability to understand and communicate with animals and form bonds with a variety of species.

Pattern recognition: A talent for recognizing patterns quickly and accurately.

Time management: Efficiently managing time and tasks to get more done in less time than most people.

Self-Reflector – The ability to look at oneself honestly and insightfully and one’s own motives and desires.

Easy Relaxer - Natural affinity for achieving a state of deep relaxation and peace.

Fine Focuser– Ability to focus on tasks when needed and block out distractions.

Natural leadership – Abilit to step up in groups and direct, inspire and motivate others to achieve common goals.

Public speaker: The ability to communicate effectively and captivate an audience.

Voracious Reader – Exceptional skills at reading large amounts with good comprehension.

Proficient Writer – Able to put things into writing in a way that others understand and appreciate.

Emotional resilience: The ability to bounce back from adversity and maintain emotional well-being in challenging situations.

Critical thinking: The ability to analyze information critically, assess arguments, and make well-reasoned judgments.

Natural teaching ability: A talent for effectively conveying information and facilitating learning experiences.

Decision-making under pressure: The ability to make quick but effective decisions in high stress situations.

Environmental adaptation: The ability to adapt quickly and thrive in various conditions (even difficult settings)

Enterprising Spirit – The ability to come up with (honest) ways to make money.

Innovator – Take existing ideas and make them even better

Networker – Ability to move around in various circles and make useful connections with lots of people

Technologically Proficient – Naturally good with technology

OTHER – List your own ideas below:



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