The “Snap” Of Strengths & Weaknesses

Dr. William K. Larkin

Weak StrongOur weaknesses are the opposite of our strengths, grown in the opposite direction of their inherent goodness.

Character defects and our “badness” can be so strong because it is something like the tight stretching of a thick, thick rubber strap, more and more pulled at each end.

It’s an enormous amount of energy that gets trapped in that stretch and pull, until there is a snap or a change in the direction.

Sometimes that snap is very destructive, but other times we can navigate that oppositional power in the direction of its true nature – a strength that has been perverted into a flaw of our character and our basic nature.Inside Out

Author Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan writes: “The same PAIN that can blemish our personality can act as a CREATIVE FORCE, burnishing it into an object of DELIGHT.”

When I worked in the Federal prison full of “bad guys” and they would come to talk with me, I was most impressed with the number of them who had committed crimes influenced by alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol seemed to be worse in its effect than drugs, but there was an astounding association with crime. It is gasoline for the fire of self-hate. Minus the substance abuse problems, many of these guys would probably not have been there, I believe.

GoodnessHowever, the real point to be made is that as I talked with them, I could always find their inherent goodness.

There were few psychotics. There were plenty, though, who were deeply angry, essentially at themselves.

The next time you see behavior that is very negative and offensive, ask yourself what strength of character is its opposite.

Then look at yourself and ask what you dislike most, what you beat up on yourself most about, and the negative that you most notice in other people.Unleash

Then ask yourself what strength you have in yourself that is blocked and submerged, wanting to express itself as the opposite of your self-recrimination.

Unleash that strength.

Using your strengths, coming from your strengths, thinking from your strengths, you simply ask these strengths of yours to tell you what is the good that IS you, what good can come from any situation.

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • I recall the activity in our licensure training where we were asked to list our Top 10 strengths (from the VIA and Strengthfinder 2.0 tests) on the left-hand side of the paper and to make a list of their opposites on the right-hand side of the same paper. I had some difficulty with naming several of the opposites. Yet, once completed I was able to see the wisdom of this exercise. I found it helpful to know the blocked or submerged aspects of my strengths in order that I might be aware of when I was not coming from a place of strength.
    Connectedness & Positivity are two of my top Strengthfinder strengths and I am triggered by others whose behaviors are isolating, judgmental, and negative. In their presence, I am more likely to disown my strengths and attempt to submerge them. This article is a timely reminder to hold on to my own strengths and unleash them despite what the other person may be sending out.

  • MissTowner

    How brilliant it is to take whatever negative feeling we may be experiencing at a moment and use it as a cue to go to the opposite, the positive feeling. I’ve always been a sensitive person, I easily pick up people’s energy, and when I was a child I would be around adults who were bitter and negative and it would bring me down and I’d stay there. Now knowing that one of my strengths is positivity, I can more easily flip to the positive instead of being a victim of other people’s bad mood/stuck energy.

  • joseph967

    I find this very helping on my growth progress. I always seem to find the good in people, which I have now learned discernment, which really has been a great asset to my growth process . I now understand that the strengths I see in others, is what I see in myself. I have always been a positive person even in negative situations, for the most part. This seems to come natural to me. To be able to change a emotional feeling about a situation is a great asset as well. If we can’t control the situation we could certainly change the way we feel about it.

  • This tool has been so helpful to me when I find myself responding negatively or judging another. Using this as a signpost to look at the strength it is pointing to and then using the work that we have done with Byron Katie, Judge Your neighbor, and looking at what it is pointing to in myself. It has been eye opening in helping me grow in compassion, for myself and others. In my top 5 strengths #4 is fairness, equity and justice. It was a strength I did not use all the time or I used the polar opposite. This week in our work I have been practicing giving myself and others the benefit of the doubt.

  • There are many people who do not believe in their own strenghts, you can show them their results of their assessments test and feedback coming from 3rd people and they keep denying them. How do you deal with it ?

  • Swanstar98

    I’m just learning about the power of approaching life through strengths. It resonates for me that “an enormous amount of energy gets trapped” when we’re living life from our weaknesses. A big part of the trap I’ve gotten caught in has been that I thought I could get to the strength through the weakness. So I expended a lot of energy going towards the weakness, running faster and faster, getting more and more tired, and further and further from the goal of the strength. To see the weakness instead as a U-turn sign is much more empowering. The weakness is the signal to turn around and go towards the strength, which enables the energy to flow and be in service to productive movement and growth. I’m grateful for new understanding and the ability to act on it!

  • Dr. gloria wright

    How thoughtful to first examine our weaknesses as the opposite of our strengths. We notice the weaknesses of others – only to realize that it is projection of our own perceived weaknesses. And all of these are at the opposite end of the continuum of our strengths. Sometimes hard to remember when we are into judging ourselves or others. But if we can use it as queue to return to looking at and using our strengths, it’s a positive reframe.

    As Dr. Larkin has mentioned before, I think our weaknesses may have grown stronger in our perceptions because we have thought of them more often than our strengths. The more we feed the negativity and old tapes, the stronger they grow. I’m doing my best to starve off the negative and feed the positive!!

  • A. Fagan

    At this time of the year, I am having difficulty turning my focus from my weaknesses to my strengths. What is it in the chaos and challenges of the holidays that pulls me down the spiral? The resistance that I have towards positivity can be dissolved by love. If I let go of the weakness end of the rubber band that Dr. Larkin refers to, then the energy can be released, tensions eased, and strengths realized.

  • Yogess1111

    I love the idea of thinking about growing our strengths and focusing on that instead of what is wrong with us and what our weaknesses are…especially if they don’t change much! Growing strengths if nothing else sounds like a lot more fun! 🙂

  • The training course in Neuropositivisme gave me this new concept about
    “Our weaknesses are the opposite of our strengths” and I use it a lot with my clients. I tell them they have the power to move the ‘mouse’ to go to the Strengths or to the weaknesses. It is a nice metaphor to use and they understand it very well.

  • Kathleen Burkhalter

    Being aware of my weaknesses is an opportunity for unconditionally loving myself and withholding harsh judgement. Simply being aware of a weakness is an chance to move in the opposite direction, just leaning that way, in order to make a positive action. I’ve found that when someone upsets me, it is usually a reaction to something within myself that I have not faced. I also know that most people are good. I experience that all the time when talking to people one on one. Being kind to each other and to myself makes it all easier.

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