“I wish I could be like her”
In my teen years I remember I would say this so often.
As an introvert, I always assumed I was weird. I wasn’t as expressive as other people around me. I was too empathetic. I was happy in my own world. I didn’t care much about competition. I didn’t make fun of other people. I was interested in reading as opposed to playing. I wasn’t the popular kid or the ideal kid. My maturity age was higher than my actual age. I couldn’t fathom small talk but enjoyed meaningful conversations. I also hated too much boy talk but loved to talk about the world.
I came up with a list that included all the limitations, at least that’s what I assumed.
I’ve never been much of a talker unless absolutely necessary. I always thought that this was a sign of weakness or a limitation in me that needed some serious fixing. I wasn’t mute. I just too my time to open up immediately. I used to observe a lot before instantly making friends or mingling with people. This was a problem according to me. Unacceptable and something I needed to work on.
That was until an incident that made me come to an awareness and insight that our limitations can be our strengths, if we learn to reframe our perception, our mindset, our beliefs and attitudes.
I had joined a program after a graduated from my master’s degree. This was a very small group of 6 people including me. Even though I managed to connect with others in the group I was still not forthcoming with starting a conversation or giving an opinion unless very necessary. In my mind, I was battling with the “talk – don’t talk”, dialogues as I assumed that less talking was problematic.
One day we were all stating things we liked in each other. It was a small exercise. When it was my turn and they had to say something about me, I was very nervous and wondered if there was anything genuinely good about me, that they would like. As people started talking one woman said, that she loves the way I observe more and talk when needed. According to her, even though I talked less, whatever little I said made the point and she wished she could be more observant like me.
I was so surprised and overjoyed. Somebody wanted to be like me and appreciated what I thought all my life was a weakness!
That’s when it really hit me. Is it possible that our weakness or limitation can serve as our strengths in different areas of our lives?
Another example that I can give is about a trait which is not usually appreciated in relationships - being too adamant! I am very adamant. I don’t give up too easily. I don’t settle just to please. In relationships however, this has never worked for me. I’ve had to learn to be more flexible and learn to let go. But due to the fact that being adamant is inherent, I managed to use it into a strength at work.
Being adamant about starting a business, not giving up despite all the problems, really helped me in staying focused and not losing my ground during unfavourable times.
If you’d like to try and reframe your limitation into a strength, you can go through these simple steps –
Step #1 – Write all your traits or write about your nature and personality without defining it as good and bad, right or wrong.
Step #2 – Circle the traits that you feel are your strengths. Rewrite it in a column. The one’s that haven’t been circled will be your limitations or weakness by default.
Step #3 – On a blank sheet of paper make a vertical line in the middle and a horizontal line. Which will give you four boxes. Or you could simply make four boxes. Now label each box with – Career/Business, Relationship/love, Health/wellness, Self/lifestyle.
Step #4 – Take the limitations/weakness one by one and try putting it in box(s) you think it’ll serve as strengths. (For eg., Being too vulnerable can appear to be a weakness in career/business but serves as a great strength in self/lifestyle, relationships/love, health/wellness.) Once you’re done with limitations you can try the same as your strengths, on a different paper.
Step #5 – Take a look at your new strengths!
Step #6 – Journal about the next steps you need to take in order to be comfortable with your new strengths, also journal about the way you feel about these new strengths.
Anytime I work with a client, the first session is usually always about strengths and weakness. Whether it’s in our personal or professional lives I feel the awareness we have towards our strengths and limitations really helps in setting the foundation.
A lot of times we’re encouraged to concentrate only on our strengths and let go of our weakness or limitations but in reality, our limitations are just as important and necessary as strengths. They are a part of us and are inherent for a reason.
Don’t worry about how your strengths appear to other people around you. They are for your benefit and growth. Having said that, it takes practice to apply these strengths in a balanced way that it serves for your highest good.
I hope this article helps you to reframe your limitations into strengths. I’ve gone ahead and created a free workbook of these steps that you can claim and get started right away.