In the last post we talked about personal strengths and the importance of knowing their origins--from where and when did they emerge in our stories—and at what point we started nurturing them above other innate capabilities to serve as a coping tool to deal with life.
Shifting gears from what you’re good at, let’s look at our weaknesses, what we're not so great at. Your weaknesses—as a reminder—are your innate or learned capabilities that are not as developed as your strengths. Your weaknesses don’t illustrate a lack of talent and ability, but rather capabilities less nurtured than strengths. But, just like strengths, weaknesses can better our relationships.
Unlike strengths for which we look in the past to uncover their origin and purpose, for our weaknesses we look in the present for origin and purpose. Today serves as a baseline to examine what capabilities you’re not using, exercising or bettering. Whether by choice or happenstance, those weaker abilities are staying that way. Revisiting the idea that weaknesses are less nurtured than strengths, perhaps weaknesses are cared for but in a different way. We don’t invest in our weaknesses to make them better--hence why they’re our weaknesses—but we care for them by enabling them, keeping them unexposed and in the shadows. It’s our preference to do so out of embarrassment or otherwise, which makes sense given culture’s message to bring only our best. As a people we’ve learned to silence our weaknesses and find safety in no one knowing about them. Our weaknesses are hidden from the majority of the world and pushed aside by self, but even still we can use them to better our relationships.
We can use our weaknesses by placing ourselves in scenarios that put them on display. Doing so is scary and counterintuitive, but there's great personal growth opportunity in doing so. With growth opportunities, however, come unsettling truth, required effort, and accountability—the very consequences that may have contributed to your underwhelming commitment to better your weaknesses. There are two ways to display your weaknesses, two avenues for growth opportunity. The first is proclaiming your weakness in an area so it invites another person to leverage their strength. A symbiotic relationship resulting from vulnerability and community. The second is simply talking about them, offering them in conversation. Just as it’s wise counsel to ask people to affirm your strengths, welcome people to speak to your weaknesses and to your blind spots. Intimate conversations build healthy, hearty relationships.
I’ve got a lot of weaknesses. Sure I have shallow ones like my lack of athleticism--adult rec leagues or impromptu team games makes me want to vomit with anxiety. But there’s the deeper weaknesses, too, like my stubbornness. I don’t want to be viewed as that way to anyone outside my home, I rather no one know about it because it’s not a glowing characteristic. I push aside the truth that I am stubborn because I know it takes a lot of effort to work on it. So, it just stays stagnant, in the shadows, not used to invite others’ strengths in helping me move past stubbornness. And it’s not something I talk about openly in intimate conversation to relate to others or build relationships. Using my stubbornness means to explicitly face the not-so-great about me. It’s for these reasons deciding to show my weakness is important work.
Join me in bravery, choose to show your weaknesses so sharing them becomes as natural as sharing your strengths. Let the world see all of you—how beautiful that would be.