Back in the day when I was filling out job applications as a teenager, I would get to the question about skills and qualifications, and I would freeze. I would ask my mom, who seemed to know me best at that time, “hey mom, what am I good at?” She’d ramble off a list and I’d dispute each one, and add maybe one or two that I agreed with to the application.
Later, as Google came around and my confidence grew a bit, I would google “strengths” when I got to that question, and readily have available a long list of skills and character traits to choose from I would write down which I think I bring to the table.
This past summer, I was reading a book called “Your Message Matters” by Jonathan Milligan. It’s all about identifying what you have to share with the world and finding your voice. In it, Milligan suggests to email ten people closest to you and ask them each for three words that describe you.
I decided to do it and the responses were eye opening. I asked each of my family members (I have 7 of them, remember), my in-laws, my mom and siblings, my in-laws, and my three closest friends. Yeah, I know it was overkill, but once I started getting responses, I became curious what others said as well!
I compiled all the info into a list, circled words that were similar and came up with the top three words that people use to describe me. And I agreed with them. These were the words that described how I was portrayed by the world and they were the way I sought to be portrayed. These were my strengths.
It’s important to know how you are being portrayed by others to determine if that is the way you want to be seen. It goes back to being authentic. You are yourself and you are putting out into the world who you are. And others are seeing that.
We often get trapped in the compare-game which reinforces the belief that you are not enough. By identifying what it is that you are good at, where your strengths lie, you can bring that focus back onto yourself. Discover your unique skills and capabilities instead of playing the game that has no winner.
We also tend to focus on our weaknesses, which again reinforce that belief. This is because we have a natural negativity bias and we are wired to lean towards the negative. Recognizing what’s good about you, what your strengths are, helps to counterbalance this bias, but it takes effort to do.
It’s important to realize your weaknesses so that you can continue to improve on them, but focusing too much on them and letting them define who you are does not serve you. Because of the negativity bias, this is easy to do.
Knowing your weaknesses can help you identify obstacles, those things that are holding you back from reaching your greatest potential. Learning how to overcome your weaknesses and developing them will move you towards your best self.
Not only is it essential to know your strengths, but you need to learn to accept them. When my mom was the one telling me what my strong suits were, there were many that I dismissed. I was wary about accepting them because I didn’t see them in myself.
Now, of course, my mom was a bit biased towards the positive as us moms tend to be with our children, but I hadn’t yet developed the confidence to embrace those strengths. I still viewed them as weaknesses or areas to grow in. This shows how important it is to assess your strengths often, as you move through the seasons of life.
Part of shifting your underlying beliefs is the process of identifying what thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are stemming from those beliefs. As you begin the process of CBT, you develop counter-statements that go against the initial irrational thoughts that are not serving you.
Affirmations are a way to counterbalance the negative thoughts that automatically come to mind in certain situations. Affirmations should include the strengths that you want to bring to the table.
Join the Moms Without Capes Facebook community where you get a new affirmation each week!
As you start shifting your beliefs, you will want to begin taking note of the times when your strengths appear. Take time to note the evidence that exists, how your strengths show up for you in different areas of your life.
Again, we are inclined to focus on those times when our weaknesses show up, but it’s helpful to focus on the role your strengths play and note those times that your weaknesses show up and you are able to overcome them.
For example, if one of your weaknesses is not being able to say no which often leaves you feeling drained, overextended, and stressed out, one, you need to recognize that this is a struggle for you and two, you will need to actively work towards improving it.
By taking note of when you are in fact able to say no, you will have compiled a list of opportunities that allowed you to turn a weakness into a strength. These will contribute to shifting the underlying beliefs and help you to accept yourself as you are.
Make the time to identify your strengths and your weaknesses and allow them to guide you to your best version.
Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Whether you Google a list of ideas, ask your mom or others closest to you, or take a formal assessment test (Clifton StrengthsFinder is a great one!), what do you consider to be your greatest strengths and the weaknesses you would like to improve?
Can you recall situations where your strengths came into play? How about times when you were able to overcome your weaknesses? Start a running list as your evidence that you have amazingness to bring to the table!