What Strength Is Most Blocked In You?

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

Character defects and our “flaws” can be so strong, because their effects in us are something like the persistent stretching of a thick, thick rubber band, pulled more and more tightly and stretched more thinly inside us.

It’s an enormous amount of energy that gets trapped in that stretch and pull, until there is a snap. Something inside us seems to just give way,

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

It can bring us back to the truth of our strengths.

Author Pir V. I. 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 system 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, I wondered if many of these men would even have been there.

However, 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.

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

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.

© Dr. William K. Larkin


About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Dr. gloria wright

    I was thinking about a topic for a women’s retreat and came up with “Dream Makers/Dream
    Breakers.” I don’t know anyone who has just had Dream Makers in their lives. And as much as I hate that we all have had to experience Dream Breakers, it is sometimes the thing that makes us reach inside to find our resilience and determination that we not be dissolved or diminished. In the workshop I only address how the Dream Breakers aided your resilience and wherewithal and your strength. That’s all the air time they get.
    Out of our weaknesses come our strengths. My brother-in-law shamed me for my emotions and sensitivity. Without access to my emotions and empathy, I could not have become
    the empathetic psychologist and coach I am today. Some of my most painful experiences
    have served me to understand and encourage others. Our strengths can aid us
    through difficult and challenging times.
    Knowing that what we criticize in others is a projection of ourselves in some ways, what are
    we to learn? When I’m critical of others being critical, can I not see the irony? Can I see my weaknesses and yours and look for both our strengths? Can I use my strengths to compensate for my weaknesses? We all have both. I choose to strengthen my strengths by using them the best I can. I choose to reinforce your strengths by acknowledging them. Let’s be better mirrors for each other….

  • Kathy Lee

    Bringing ourselves to account each day is the bookend to creating a daily plan each morning. Doing a quick assessment and at the end of each day: which strengths did I actually use today, which ones did I intend to use but didn’t; which weaknesses showed up? How can I do better tomorrow? Cultivating an ongoing momentum of growing our strengths by consciously using them can make us more alert to their opposites.I realize that since we have 10 strengths now on our radar screens (VIA and Strengthsfinder) we have plenty of strengths to address each weakness and we are not limited to use on the opposite of the weakness, but many of our 10 strengths can be enlisted to create a battle plan to minimize the negative impact of any weakness. For example, if faultfinding is a known weakness, its natural opposite may be Appreciation of Excellence and Beauty and while this strength may be called upon when we slump into faultfinding, Bravery, Relator, Gratitude and/or Responsibility could also employed to address this weakness. What has become evident to me is that we have multiple resources that we can bring to bear on character and strengths development. What an encouraging thought – we have everything we need to build, step by step, a positive day, a positive week, a positive life centering on strengths and how strengths can be employed to bring our best self to each day, to each interaction.

  • Sheila

    I have strategic thinking as a top Gallup strength and judgement from the VIA survey.

    While I know that this capacity to be open minded is a gift and that I have an uncanny talent to spot patterns and foresee how things will turn out, I feel that in many ways I have overused this strength and it has, on occasion, been detrimental.

    Recently, when I have had a big decision to make I have made countless lists of pros and cons, reached a decision, only the next day to doubt it and then gone back to doing all those lists again. I think they call it “paralysis by analysis”……..ah, it’s exhausting, non- productive and makes me want to scream!!

    I understand why people say any decision is better than none, but, I think that’s what we sometimes do to gain a temporary relief.

    I have decided to stop making lists about this one issue and focus on developing a positive emotional outlook. By doing the emotional gym and using other tools I try to stay in the upspiral and focus on my vibecore and what I truly want.

    It’s not that I don’t intend to utilize my critical thinking ability. I am just dialing it back a bit, for now, balancing out other areas in my life and will call on it again when I can use it for it’s truest purpose.

  • Yvette Gauff

    “…what strength you have in yourself that is most thwarted, blocked, or submerged, wanting to express itself as the opposite of your self-recrimination? Such a profound question for me, as my answer is indeed wrapped around expression. As I took an inventory of my top 10 strengths, Woo stood out.

    The Gallup Strength of Woo was not “galloping” at all, but rather, had been left and the starting gate and was not moving. When I think of how it is happening it is truly a perversion. ALL of my life, I have been known as a talker. It was probably a statement made on most of my report cards as a child. l am known to engage in small talk with just about anyone. Then why, when it mattered most, when this strength is necessary to move me forward to aid me, was I not operating in the part that I am “winning others over, …and gaining their esteem?”

    The deviance of that for me is what I would call, being shy and reserved, fearful. I found it showed up in caring too much about what someone might think, being afraid of being judged. And I found that to be the case more and more often over the years. I was censoring myself, in business development, achieving goals, pursuing dreams. Self-recrimination was winning!

    Author Pir V. I. Khan writes: “The same pain that can blemish our personality can act as a
    creative force, burnishing it into an object of delight.”

    To this I say, I agree. I recall a time where I found myself inspired to take the pain that I experienced from being treated in a negative manner, and using it as the impetus to speak publicly. I am not normally intimidated by being in front of a crowd. I am a performer for goodness sake. Getting in front of people is part of who I am and what I ‘do”. But a lack of confidence was sitting on top of fear, and was keeping me silent. Though painful, I appealed to my strengths of spirituality, faith and purpose and communication, and used this negative event to propel me forward, permitting myself to not only operate fully in my gift of Woo, but to speak to the fact that I had been intimidated to do so. I outed myself before the world. I forced myself to use the pain and disappointment I was feeling to step out of my comfort zone, and logged onto Facebook and went live. The results were amazing: a passion filled chat with anyone who listened, and people inspired by having heard my words! I am still receiving feedback from that event. There is something powerful about KNOWING what is available within you, having the ability to access it, and being confident that when leveraged, it can make a tangible difference for your good and the good of others. StrengthSmart living is so beneficial, and can provide a roadmap for positive outcomes when tapped into, and be a light in the dark places of confusion and misdirection. It behooves us all to operate from this vantage point; it is from this place we are operating at our most authentic selves, and can expect the greatest level of success.

  • Eddy Macdonald

    Fascinating stuff. I was actually just recently thinking through this with regards to one of my top strengths – WOO. It has been my #1 or #2 strength consistently since I first took the StrengthsFinder test several years ago. In reflecting on this strength, as well as percieved weaknesses in my life, I realized that I often stretch this strength to the point of being a people-pleaser and HAVING to be liked. The need to be liked and admired, and to build a very positive first impression that does not change often leads to me not being a confident and true version if myself to others. I’m learning that I can relax in my strengths, trust them to work for me, and not force it. Also to be OK with not being liked by or being friends with ort agreeing with everyone, and recognizing that these three things are not necessarily synonymous. .

  • Laura M Sparks

    It’s interesting to learn of this strength perspective…so if my strength is connectivity, then my weakness is isolation..? This makes sense as I find myself in a more negative frame of mind when I become more secluded and withdrawn. This is a rarity, thank goodness, as I enjoy people. However, I do consider myself somewhat of an introvert since I need my daily down time. This downtime can get the best of me when I let it go on for too long, hence isolating being a weakness.

  • Echo Macdonald

    Strengths versus weaknesses. Both on the same stick. My top strength is the Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. So I have this natural tendency to look for Beauty and Excellence in Nature and in the people around me and to admire it in the works of others and myself. And I want to achieve those qualities in the work that I do. The positive aspect of that is in the appreciation phase of feeling the gratitude for the presence of both, in myself and others. In the receiving of those qualities. The downspiral aspect of that strength comes in the evaluation of the presence or absence of those qualities (according to my perceived standard) in myself and others. So meditating on the goodness of beauty and excellence in its neutral and glorious state in all things, whether great or small, is the core of this strength. In capturing that state, the weight of expectation and comparison disappear and I am free to bask in the wonder of this strength.

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute