Discovering your hidden strengths

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It is hard writing a dating profile. We English aren’t great at blowing our own trumpets but inside we all know there are certain things we are good at and qualities we like about ourselves. There are other things though that may not be so obvious – our hidden strengths. Here’s how to discover what they are.

Take an inventory

Any good business knows that in order to run effectively they need to have a full measure of their assets. They do this by taking a regular inventory, counting their stock, looking at what they own, assessing what is popular with customers and if any of their products has lost them money or is holding them back. Undertaking this process in a personal way is no different and will give you a full measure of who you are, what your strengths are and also areas that need some work.

Take a piece of paper and divide it into 5 columns

strengths – weaknesses – characteristics – fears – achievements

Without thinking about it too much, write down as many things as you can think of in each column. You don’t need to do the whole thing in one sitting, take your time and do it over a few days as new things come to mind. When you are sure there is nothing more you want to add to any of the columns you can begin to analyse the results.

Do you have more weaknesses than strengths? This is natural because most of us are unaccustomed to identifying what is really good about ourselves. Go to the column on achievements and look at the things you are proud of – they don’t have to be huge things – learning to drive, getting a job or overcoming a personal problem are all worthy achievements. What strengths did you need to achieve this? Maybe you needed patience, endurance, clear thinking or perseverance. These can be achievements from any time in your life so look back and see what you have been proud of. Add these to your strengths list.

Now look at your fears. Are these things you have experienced before and don’t want to have to deal with again? Many people are afraid of things because they mistakenly believe that they wouldn’t be able to cope if that thing happened. The reality is that you have probably overcome many fears in your life and you have coped – maybe even grown stronger as a result of your experience. Try and think of times when you have overcome adversity and see what strengths and qualities were needed in that situation – add these to your strengths list.

Look at your characteristics – not just what you think they are but what others say about you too – what would your best friend say? If you don’t know what your best friend would say maybe take this opportunity to ask them. Tell them what you are doing and ask for their help. Many of your characteristics will also be strengths i.e. good sense of humour in characteristics is also a strength as it may help you see the lighter side of life even in difficult situations. Go through each characteristic – even the negative ones – and see where it has helped you in the past. Being stubborn might mean you get things done; being fussy could mean you pay a lot of attention to detail. Add everything you find to your strengths list.

Finally look at your weaknesses. Are they holding you back? Weaknesses tend to get out of control and begin to run our lives when we start to believe that they are all of who we are rather than just a small part. Even if you are tackling a difficult issue like weight loss getting a more balanced perspective on who you are will help stop the negative self talk that often accompanies such problems. Most people are much more able to see the negative than the positive but even weaknesses will have their positive side. Being lazy might mean you find it easy to relax; overeating, that you enjoy cooking and appreciate food. Go through them all and try to find a positive aspect in each and add them to your strengths column. You can use the strengths you have identified to tackle any behaviour that has got out of control.

Balance the books

Hopefully this process will reveal to you many strengths you didn’t know you had but it is important to remember that no-one is perfect or without weaknesses. Acknowledging and accepting your weaknesses, rather than denying them, is in itself strength and will keep you real.


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