We can look at our strengths as our personality strengths (I am…), our external resources like our relationships, our possessions, our positions in society, organisations, our education etc (I have…) and our skills and talents can also be our strengths (I can…)
Recently during a workshop, I asked the participants to write down their three top personality strengths. People wrote things like Kindness, Honesty, Curiosity, Love, Spirituality, Justice and Fairness, Teamwork etc. After exploring why they thought these were their strengths by making them give instances from their life where they had used these characteristics in a positive way, I asked them if the strengths can also become our weaknesses at times. This set their minds thinking.
Our strengths can sometimes become our weaknesses if we are not watchful. While I might think kindness is my strength, if I allow others to exploit that for their benefit and to my detriment, then my kindness has become my weakness. Because I believe myself to be a kind person, others can pile on their needs for me and I might reluctantly help them at a cost to my purse, my health, my energy and my time. Has my strength become my weakness? I might pride myself that Honesty is my strength. It certainly might have helped me and saved me many times. Can my honesty hurt me too? I could share information with family members or my colleagues and that information can be used to insult, humiliate or put me down. Has honesty benefited me or harmed me? Can I be too honest for my own good? My generosity can be a strength and it can become a weakness when exploited by others. My curiosity can be a strength and can also lead me down paths which end up hurting me. My trust in people can help me bloom but can also let me down when I have misplaced my trust in someone.
While we all have personality strengths it is vital to be aware that those very same strengths can also become our weaknesses if exploited by others, overused of those strengths or by our own blind adherence to our strengths.