If you’ve ever been asked the question “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” in a job interview or on a date, you probably immediately noticed your heart racing. While acknowledging weaknesses can be quite easy, recognizing and articulating one’s strengths is quite difficult. Let’s change that, starting with YOU, today!
Just last week, I was talking with a friend who had been at a blogging conference. She took a class where they spent some time focusing on articulating one’s strengths…and it was super hard for her. She told me, “I can list off right now fifty weaknesses I have, and areas where I am trying to improve, but I cannot tell you one single thing I am good at!”
Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is it so easy to see the bad and nearly impossible to notice our strengths? I have not been able to stop thinking about this concept ever since, and so I am dedicating this blog post to discovering your strengths.
- Take time to understand yourself.
I have written previously about the power of journaling; it is a great way to become more self-aware and reflective about your abilities. First, look for skill-based strengths. Take several days or even a week to write things you spend your time doing; you may even rate these activities. From this, you may learn:
- I enjoy doing laundry and cleaning. I am an organized, tidy person.
- I find research papers interesting; I am driven to always be learning and growing.
- I don’t love washing/vacuuming my car, but I clean it weekly. I am consistent.
Then, search deeper, and examine your values. Search for personality-based strengths. What is important to you? What governs your choices? Or if this is too abstract, think about individuals you respect and why; what traits do they posses that you value?
- I let my waitress know she undercharged me last night. I am honest. Integrity is important to me.
- Even though my life is busy, I found time to take the neighbors dinner to me because I try to be a kind, thoughtful person.
- I really admire Marilee’s ability to give her full attention to others. That is something I am actively working to turn into a strength of mine.
Evaluating how you spend your time will tell you a great deal about yourself. Take the time to be introspective and you will discover things you did not already know about yourself.
- Ask others to identify your strengths.
I enjoy giving my clients the homework assignment where they ask others to help them identify their strengths. This is beneficial and insightful to anyone and everyone, and I recommend you give it a whirl! To start, think of people in every aspect of your life (work, old jobs, and former teachers, as well as friends and family). Send the individuals you’ve selected an email asking them to give you particular instances where they saw you use your strengths. Make sure to mention that these strengths can be skill-based or personality-based. You will likely be surprised by all you can learn about yourself from the perspective of others!
- Make said strengths easy to articulate.
Now, you likely have several ideas about things you excel in, but you may not know exactly how to articulate that. I would like to recommend fitting it into one of the following three phrases:
I AM _________
I HAVE _________
I CAN _________
If you enjoy talking with others, that can be, “I am personable.” If you are good at meeting deadlines, you could say, “I am punctual.” If you found you are able to remain calm in stressful situations– ”I can prioritize and manage stress effectively,” etc.
- Verbalize strengths. Repeat them. Believe them. Live them.
At the end of February, I posted about affirmations, and the strength we can summon by regularly affirming such powerful statements. Might I recommend repeating your I am/I have/I can statements? Set a time to regularly repeat your affirmations. Reminding yourself who you are and what you are good at is invaluable. Yes, we should never be complacent with where we are, and we should always strive to improve. Recognizing your strengths will help you capitalize on them and even strengthen them.
Everyone has gifts, strengths, and talents…everyone! They just take time to discover. Even though it is easier to recognize strengths when things are going well, It is just as important to recognize strengths in times when you feel discouraged or insignificant. You have worth! I urge you to seek out your strengths so you can be comfortable in your own skin, and build upon these to become the person you want to be. As always, should you need help in this regard, or with any aspect of your personal emotional health, my door is open. I thoroughly enjoy helping my clients build their self-esteem in order to be emotionally healthy. Please feel free to contact me today or simply click here to schedule a session.
Melissa Cluff is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Lewisville, Texas, personally seeing clients in the North Dallas area.