Turn Weakness Into Strength in 5 Steps
Is there a greater myth than living a perfect life? As we know, life is far from perfect. We all have strengths, things we do with ease or perform better than others. But we also have our weaknesses, the things we don’t do as well or aren’t able to do at all. We feel strong in certain situations but weak and vulnerable in others.
And that’s okay. How we experience life is unique to each of us, and what we call a ‘strength’ or a ‘weakness’ is largely dependent on our unique life situations. What seems like a weakness in one particular situation can be a strength in another. In fact, the only thing that differentiates a strength from a weakness is our mindset and perspective. Luckily, we have an almost infinite capacity for growth and endless opportunity for change, so we can change any perceived weakness into our strength in five steps.
Step 1: Identify the targeted weakness
We have a strong tendency to deny or turn a blind eye to upsetting things, more so when it originates from our own selves. But this almost always deepens the problem.
First, we have to admit that we are lacking in a necessary skill set. What do we believe is holding us back? It is crucial to have a brutally honest look at ourselves and identify specific trait/s that we want to work on. Write down every time that particular trait has caused problems or stood in the way of our goals. Trace back when we first noticed this trait and then identify other factors that are possibly linked to that trait.
In short, we need to create a blueprint for the trait or behavior we want to tackle.
Step 2: Find the corresponding strength
As we noted, what we consider ‘strength’ or ‘weakness’ depends a lot on the situation we are in, and how we are looking at it.
Instead of viewing shyness as a weakness, we can flip this negative perspective. Perhaps it means we have the ability to think deeply and consider several factors before choosing to speak. Or that we prefer to understand situations and people before rushing into judgments or opinions. This ‘weakness’ can turn to ‘strength’ in a situation that calls for deliberate and thoughtful action.
Rather than being too sensitive, instead, we are perceptive to others’ body language and have strong empathy. Both of which are important skills that are indispensable in a wide-ranging variety of situations.
By consciously changing the language we use, we change the way our brain thinks of solutions. When we are accustomed to thinking of something as a weakness, we tend to find strategies to avoid them or view situations where we use them as survival only. ‘Just get through it’ becomes a common mantra. But if we look at these strategies as skills, and we’ll find we’re able to contribute to these scenarios in surprising ways.
Step 3: Change the contributing factors
A lot of times our weaknesses are the products of our environment. For example, people-pleasing behavior and the inability to say no may have roots in childhood neglect or abuse. Arrogance or selfishness may be a result of having to survive in competitive situations.
Identifying and removing the contributing factors often do wonders in overcoming weaknesses and we can find these by consulting our weakness blueprint. What can we change to remove these environmental or internal blocks? Do certain people trigger these tendencies? Making changes to our lifestyle habits might help eliminate or reduce our patterns. Or consciously moving away from toxic relationship patterns. And if these behaviors are deeply ingrained in our psyche, therapy is a great way to affect long-term change.
Step 4: Ask for help
The goal is to change our mindset and perspective, but that doesn’t mean we have to do this alone. No one is good at everything. We are all a mix of personality, habits, and experience. Sometimes that combination benefits us in achieving our goals––sometimes they don’t. But we know this is true for everyone. So we can seek out others with the traits or skills that we’re missing. Once we’ve identified people who are good at the thing we are not, we can ask them for help.
Articulating and being honest about our weak points with someone we trust is one of the best ways to prevent this ‘weakness’ from being an impediment. When we continue to keep making the same mistakes or engaging in the same behaviors, we set ourselves up for frustration and failure. But when we’re open and ask for help, we break the habits these tendencies have created. And by accepting someone can teach us, we open ourselves up to learn, taking us closer to our goal, than if we continued on our own.
Step 5: Find your community
In a similar vein to asking for help, we also need to realize that we are not alone in our struggles. Whatever we think we’re bad at, there are thousands of people around the world who are bad at the same thing. When we surround ourselves with others going through similar problems, we have the opportunity for learning and growth in every interaction. Struggling together and offering support gives us a clearer perspective and often teaches us innovative approaches to the problem. Simply talking about our struggles with someone going through a similar situation unlocks new ways of looking at our behavior. They may not have the answers, but chances are they’ll open our eyes to new approaches.
The most important thing to remember is this: be kind. There is nothing wrong with being bad at something––all of us are. The entirety of human civilization has been built on our ability to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses by communicating and working together. Instead of attempting to be perfect, we should accept our flaws, change what we can, share our knowledge, and integrate what others can teach us. By creating a network of support, we can use collective strength to accomplish any goal.