When Your Strengths Become Weaknesses

You have strengths. You may or may not be aware of them, but you have them. They might include curiosity, playfulness, compassion, kindness, patience, discipline, perseverance, honesty, or determination, to name a few. 

Using your strengths in your day-to-day endeavours plays a large role in increasing your sense of life satisfaction. It is in the exercising of your strengths that your life’s purpose is found.

That being said, overusing your strengths can turn that strength into a weakness. Overusing strengths makes life more difficult, strains relationships, and can sabotage your fulfillment. Therefore it is important that we learn to regulate the use of our strengths.

One of my strengths is stability, or steadiness - even keel. There is a sort of ‘slowness’ to me. I don’t readily get upset or ‘blow my top’ when things don’t go the way I think they should. This strength give me the ability to find a silver lining in everything. This strength shows as calmness.

While I like this strength of mine and its benefits, I sometimes tend to overuse it and then it works against me. When I overuse stability, it becomes my weakness and it shows up like stubbornness, a resistance to any sort of change, a sort of ‘inertia’. Some may call it ‘laziness’ or ‘sloth’. If I let it, this can eventually lead to procrastination and negligence. “Seeing the silver lining” turns into “avoiding uncomfortable feelings” as I avoid and minimize my real-life problems to maintain a sense of peace and harmony in my life.

Our strengths can be underused or overused. Our goal is to find a balance between underuse and overuse to promote positive and optimal functioning. The use of our strengths must be regulated.

PositivePsychology.com says it well:

"Our context and needs at a given moment in time influence our ability to use our strengths optimally. For example, your best friend asks you if you like her wedding dress moments before she walks down the aisle. At this moment, if you happened to dislike the dress, overplaying your strength “honesty” could have dire consequences. You (as well as your best friend) would benefit most from regulating your ‘honesty’ at this moment. This situation may require you to “dial down” your strength “honesty” and dial-up your strength “kindness.” In this way, strength use can be compared to a volume control knob on a stereo, rather than an on/off switch. Playing to your strengths can be dialed up and dialed down for the best result in a given situation.”

Learning the optimal use of your strengths to obtain outcomes you desire begins with self-awareness! 

Try this activity:

Step 1. Select a strength of yours. (It can be one you wish to use more of or one you tend to overuse or underuse)

Step 2. Overplaying the strength. Can you think of an example when you overplayed this strength? What did you do (i.e., what did overplaying this strength look like)? What were the consequences? 

Step 3. Underplaying the strength. Can you think of an example when you underplayed this strength? What did you do (i.e., what did underplaying this strength look like)? What were the consequences?

Step 4. Optimal use of the strength. Can you think of an example when you used this strength optimally? If not, what would the optimal use of this strength look like? What was/would be the outcome? 

Step 5. Reflection. Do you tend to misuse this strength in your day-to-day life? If so, is your tendency to overuse or underuse it? What triggers you to misuse this strength? What could you do to use this strength more optimally in the future?

Overuse and underuse of strengths leads to life dissatisfaction, stress, and social disharmony at work and at home. Learn about your strengths and what motivates you to use them with our Short Term Coaching. Contact us to get started!

Here’s to conquering stress.

With heart,

The Stress Experts

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