Discover more from Super Sunday
💪 Did you know that you can lose your own Character Strengths?
Here’s what science says about countering that
Hello friend! 👋
Happy first issue of Super Sunday in August; we’re more than halfway through.
Take this moment to check in with yourself about your goals for the year and your plan for the remaining five months!
Remember, bring compassion where you didn’t deliver and curiosity where you can go from here.
ALSO: 2 months till we celebrate Super Sunday’s Anniversary!! 👏😎
Onto today’s topic - strengths die out when left unused.
Sounds logical, as with the physical form of strength - if you do not continue exercising the muscle, it loses its power. But did you know the same is possible for your character strengths (like honesty, courage, and curiosity)?
Science calls it Strengths Erosion.
So how does this happen, and how to combat that?
Let’s dive straight in!
Strengths are a significant pillar of Positive Psychology literature and research.
Remember, positive psychology is focused on studying the science of well-being and helping humans flourish. That is, to achieve ultimate potential.
While we used to think we must focus on our weaknesses to make them stronger and be “well-rounded,” science has shown that this is a waste of time.
We are best suited to be exceptionally excellent at those unique things we call our strengths.
Partly due to our genetics but also due to the conditions of our upbringing, we end up developing a very unique brain - certain parts being a lot more dense in synapses and neurons than other parts.
Therefore, when we focus on our strengths, not only do we have higher odds of learning, we have the capacity to learn more and grow further.
Essentially, we grow where we are strongest.
Separately, using our strengths allows us to live more authentically with who we are; bringing our strengths to the work we do brings more of “us” into it, and that can be very fulfilling. Think of purpose as using your unique strength to create a massive impact.
When we use our strengths, we act in coherence with our true values and create meaning in life and at work.
But we don’t always know our strengths, let alone use them purposefully.
We tend to feel better when we deploy our strengths to our engagements with life and others.
However, there are multiple ways in which strengths can get downplayed
We can’t practice what we don’t know. We are not aware of our strengths (and it happens much more often than you’d think) due to many reasons, whether due to social pressures, learned behaviors, or traumatic events. But most of all it is lack of self-awareness.
This one’s simple, in many occasions when solving for problems we tend to get into a negative state of mind - it is a survival instinct that can help us narrow our thinking to focus on surviving alone and forget to use existing resources. However, for solving problems we need creative thinking that’s only possible with positive state of mind to allow for creative use of strenghts
If the use of a strength will cause a backlash or an unfavorable response, we may choose not to display it. For example, if honesty is the strength but it can create repercussions.
4. Lack of skills
Not knowing how to use specific strengths effectively erodes their potency, and they are as good as not being there. Similar to the previous example, if honesty is a strength but communicating isn’t.
An intentional exploration and cultivation of strengths profile and top strengths is necessary to combat these.
Many tools exist to explore personal strengths (Clifton, VIA, Strength Profile), but it doesn’t have to be that complex.
Simply recalling what attitudes and characteristics helped you achieve previous wins or overcome previous challenges can help identify top strengths.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, is a super powerful tool in cultivating awareness and directly feeds into identifying personal strengths.
But how do we cultivate strengths once identified?
Research on the topic tells us that two factors impact strengths use:
Mindset Capacity and Behavior Capacity.
For us to use our strengths, we first have to have the capacity to look for them, see them, and look for opportunities to use them.
It takes a mental effort, or intentionality, to make them alive.
Not only is this capacity necessary for activating, it is also essential for regulating once activated. Because strengths, like anything else in life, can also turn into negative experiences (for example, too much curiosity leading into being nosey, or too much forgiveness leading into being a doormat). Therefore, it is essential for us to regulate overuse.
The other capacity, behavior capacity, is necessary actually to turn this intention into reality.
Without the capacity to take action and actually utilize opportunities to use our strengths, there is no value in spotting opportunities. There are, however, instances when we may choose not to exercise our strengths if it is detrimental, despite having the capacity - this is called wisdom.
Both these capacities feed into one another.
The more we use our strengths, the bigger capacity we have for seeing opportunities to use them, which in turn makes us more “proficient” in applying them, building more behavioral capacity.
Back to you now;
Can you take a moment now to list three strengths that you believe shape your accomplishments and successes?
Are you happy with the current level at which you use them?
Do you believe you (and those around you) will benefit from bringing more or less of those strengths to your daily engagement?
This can have transformative impacts on your work and relationships.
Don’t forget to have fun bringing them to life.
Have a Super Sunday! 💪
With much joy,