Using your strengths to cope by Sharlene Ho

“Heto ako ngayon, nag-iisa

Naglalakabay sa gitna ng dilim

Lagi na lang akong nadarapa

Ngunit heto, bumabangon pa rin”

I bet you sang the song. Maybe you even finished it until the end. Like the song, have you felt so alone in your life as if the world turned its back on you, and you have nowhere to go? What did you do? Did you let problems defeat you, or you overcame them?

When you encounter setbacks, which do you focus on—your strengths or weaknesses? Some people find it easier to look at their faults than their accomplishments because negative emotions leave more impact than their positive counterparts. 

Not all people have the necessary skills in dealing with life problems, and sometimes this can make or break them. For some, they get easily discouraged because they think that they cannot accomplish anything anymore. Focusing on weaknesses can be helpful because it gives a different perspective on what someone is going through. But problems arise when we highlight our deficits and neglect our strengths. When was the last time you appreciated your strengths instead of your weaknesses?

People direct their attention to what they lack instead of identifying the inner resources that they already possess. It compartmentalizes them into labels thinking that they are the problem. This way of thinking blinds them from appreciating their strengths and capacity to find meaningful solutions. Rather it hinders them from taking control of their lives.

A paradigm shift is necessary. Instead of problem-focused approaches, use strength-based methods in dealing with problems. However, some people find it hard to identify their strengths. They often say, “I don’t know.” A simple exercise. List your strengths and weaknesses. Which side has more items? What can you say about that?

Strengths are characteristics, abilities, and skills that are motivating and energizing. They are stable over time but also flexible and dynamic, depending on the situation. Emphasizing strengths allows people to utilize their inner resources and abilities to recover from adversity. However, this is not an attempt to ignore the problem but rather a chance to discover what they can do to address future challenges.

What are the characteristics, competencies, or emotional and behavioral skills that you already possess?

You can also ask yourself:

  1. What are my weaknesses that contributed to my problems?
  2. What are my strengths that cancel out these weaknesses?
  3. What environmental factors that hinder my progress?
  4. What environmental resources that support my strengths?

Knowing your strengths is easy, but applying it is the challenge. When you start acknowledging that you are not the problem and have the essential resources to find solutions, you’ll realize that you are more than capable of facing the obstacles that you may encounter. You have the strength and courage to surpass your problems; however, you must discover it then shift your energy in the right direction.

When will you start acknowledging that you are the solution?

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