What did you do well this week? What are some areas you feel strong in? Which character traits do you already posses that could help you achieve these goals? *crickets*
These are the types of questions that I ask clients and they are most often met with blank stares. Or at best, a long and self-reflecting pause. We are conditioned to constantly work towards self-improvement. And, we generally receive more criticism (even when constructive) than we do compliments and positive feedback.
Often, the sting of criticism lasts longer than the warm glow of praise. In fact studies show that people pay keen attention to negative information. For example, when asked to recall important emotional events, people remember four negative memories for every positive one.
While self-improvement, personal growth and positive change are all worthy things to strive for, doing so from an approach of strength rather than perceived shortcomings, will actually increase your likelihood to achieve your goals and improve.
Don’t Allow Your Weaknesses to Bully You.
Acknowledge Your Strengths Along with Your Weaknesses.
It is a paradox of human psychology that while people remember criticism, they respond to praise. The former makes them defensive and therefore unlikely to change, while the latter produces confidence and the desire to perform better. So while people remember criticism, awareness of faults doesn’t necessarily translate into better performance.
Based on that understanding, knowing your strengths can actually help you to construct a plan to build on. This will help you to achieve your goals. Knowing your strengths also offers you a better understanding of how to deal with your weaknesses and it helps you gain the confidence you need to address them. While it’s important to acknowledge your weaknesses, it’s equally important to acknowledge your strengths.
Don’t allow your weaknesses to call the shots. Sometimes you can spend so much time and energy trying to improve upon your shortcomings that you forget to hone your strengths.
Chances Are You Aren’t Giving Yourself Enough Credit.
Naturally clients are going to come to me with a list of improvements they desire and goals they would like to achieve — after all, that is part of my job. However, in my experience, I find that clients often do not give themselves enough credit for the things they are doing well and often overlook the many strengths they bring to the table.
You can become so focused on addressing the issues you would like to fix, or feeling the heaviness of the need for improvement, that you become bogged down by the negative emotions associated with it. That can misdirect your focus and drain your energy. However, every client, without exception, has strengths they possess and things they are already doing well. Focusing on your strengths and designing a plan to reach your desired goals with those in mind, rather than hyper-focusing on the problem alone, allows a person a greater chance of success. Use your strengths to help balance out your weaknesses.
Know When to Fight for Improvement and When to Let Go.
Again, the desire for self-improvement, personal growth and positive change are never bad things. However, sometimes it is in your best interest to let something go rather than constantly striving for improvement or ways to compensate for weak areas.
You can’t be great at everything and that’s ok. Allowing both your strengths and your weaknesses to coexist creates space for a lot of freedom and spares you wasted energy.
For example, in a professional environment, acknowledging both your strengths and weaknesses may look like having a conversation with your boss to say, “I’m a great motivator and leader, but not very strong at numbers. So rather than teaching me remedial math, could we find a good finance partner to support me?”
Knowing when to “outsource” rather than fight for improvement with time, energy, effort and money is just as important as striving for personal growth and development. This can be a tough balance to strike, but remember that perfection is not attainable for any of us, so know when to admit areas of weakness, ask for help and play to your strengths instead.
Play to Your Strengths… But What Are They?
Sometimes, we have been so conditioned to focus on improving and compensating for our weaknesses that we have trouble discerning our own strengths. One of several tools I use to help my clients acknowledge their own strengths and develop a deeper self-understanding is having them complete an Enneagram Test. This personality test goes beyond just pointing out basic character traits of your particular type. It addresses the core beliefs that drive a person’s deepest motivations and fears, which fundamentally shape a person’s worldview and the perspective through which they see the world and the people around them.
This, along with other tools, guidance and accountability that a health coach offers, can help clients achieve long-term and sustainable results and success.
Interested in finding out more? Book your FREE 30-minute consult or first session online today! Here you have the opportunity ask any questions about the process and assess how health coaching may be beneficial to you.
About the author:
Emily Robinson is the founder of Abide Health Coaching. She is a certified Health Coach (CHC) and Yoga Therapist (CYT-500). Emily has worked with both private clients and in small groups; addressing specific health concerns such as: MS, cancer, alcohol addiction, eating disorders and Parkinson’s. She now specializes in working with clients who struggle with disordered eating and negative body image. Emily provides support for those who’ve completed treatment for an eating disorder who are reengaging in normal life; to help them maintain their recovery. She is partnered with the Anchor Wellness Center