A strong woman’s perspective on the benefits of embracing your weaknesses

I’ve spent a good portion of my life trying to hide the parts of myself I don’t like.

Maybe you can relate?

I think a lot of us do it.

They are the parts of ourselves we worry are less than appealing. It’s the qualities we feel guilt, shame, and embarrassment about.

All that “not-enoughness” that we carry around seriously weighs you down. It’s fuelled by all the things we are not, but so desperately wish we were.

And so, you hide.

You hide it behind a wall of “strength”. It becomes almost like a mask you wear to the outside world.

But it turns out that starting to break down that wall has been one of the truly strongest steps I’ve ever taken.

All I ever wanted to be was perfect

I can now see that as a teenager growing up, I had a deep self-loathing.

No surprise then that it made me miserable. Not liking yourself takes a heavy toll.

I would scrutinize every single imperfection.

Yet, to the outside world, I suspect I came across quite differently.

I did everything I could to try to hide the messy parts of myself that I wish weren’t there.

It took a long time, but I finally started to realize that my so-called weaknesses were actually my gifts too.

They were part of a whole that couldn’t be surgically separated.

Not only were they an important part of me, but they were the secret to greater personal growth, understanding, and compassion.

Because the reality is:

Our weaknesses can be the mirror that reflects important truths back to us.

Our weaknesses are the diamonds in the rough

For many years I was so focused on eliminating my weaknesses that I didn’t notice a very important detail:

That many of the things I wished I could magic wand away about myself were linked to what are my strengths too.

We tend to think of weaknesses and strengths as isolated things, but they’re not.

It’s more like a spectrum.

The things we don’t like are attached to the good parts.

At one extreme might exist one of your so-called weaknesses but on the other, the same traits and qualities are what make you shine in all the best ways.

For example, I’ve always chastised myself for being too outspoken. It’s certainly led to me putting my foot in it on more than one occasion.

But that springs from the same parts of me that also make me passionate and communicative. Things I wouldn’t want to give up.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t work on our weaknesses. But for me, it was helpful to start by seeing them in another light first.

They weren’t the enemy to be eliminated.

In a lot of cases, they were actually parts of my strengths that still needed a bit of work.

They were the unpolished diamonds that just needed some TLC.

There’s nothing strong about hiding from yourself

Time to get real:

All the wishing in the world isn’t going to make your weaknesses disappear.

So we’re left with just two choices:

  • Denial — Pretend they don’t exist, justify or excuse them.
  • Acceptance — refuse to run from them and instead use them.

Hiding parts of ourselves is not strong. In fact, it’s sort of cowardly when you think about it.

None of us are perfect. So we all have weaknesses.

But accepting that is really brave.

When you do, you can start to have an honest conversation with yourself about what you need to change.

You can get to know yourself on a much deeper level.

We can use our weaknesses to feed our strength

We’ve all seen those inspirational stories.

Someone goes through unimaginable heartache or struggle but ultimately their life is all the richer for it.

They use their negative experience, or even trauma, as fertilizer. And from that life blooms even more.

Often the “bad” things that happen to us that we are trying to protect ourselves from can shape us in the most beautiful way.

I believe the same goes for embracing your weaknesses.

Doing so allows us to create greater self-awareness and understanding.

Perhaps it’s like that spiritual notion of rather than running from the darkness, we shine a light on it.

Embracing your weaknesses is how you come to shine the light and transform the darkness.

It can also highlight when we’re on the wrong path.

Because here’s something worth considering:

What you interpret as a weakness may simply point to certain strengths you are leaving unfulfilled.

For example, a tendency to procrastinate can quickly melt away into enthusiasm when we’re spending time doing something we care about.

Eliminating certain weaknesses can happen through osmosis when we find more effective ways to express our strengths.

That’s why it’s useful to consider what interests and values we may not be giving voice to which are trapped in our weaknesses.

This free core values exercise can help you to get to grips with what is most important to you and ensure you are working with and not against your natural strengths.

As I say, it’s free. So it’s totally worth checking out.

Here’s the link again.

What you willingly give away nobody can take from you

I think fear of rejection plays a big part in all this.

After all, what’s the big deal about having weaknesses?

We all do.

And what’s funny is that we’re far more accepting of them in others than in ourselves.

I think the short answer is:

Fear of rejection.

We’re scared that our weaknesses make us less. And we worry how others will judge and potentially reject us because of that.

It’s like we’re worried about being exposed and found out.

We’re told vulnerability is the antidote.

Unfortunately, it’s also terrifying. There is no point in sugarcoating it.

We are so afraid of someone taking our power from us and leaving us weak and exposed in the process.

But here’s the irony about vulnerability that I’ve come to understand:

Nobody can steal from you what you give away willingly.

When you consciously choose to expose yourself through vulnerability, the threat loses its power.

Nobody can steal anything from you, because you are giving away your truth.

You are sharing the real you— warts and all.

So there is nothing left to be exposed, nothing we need to desperately protect or hide from.

Surrendering your illusion of power and control is how you actually gain it back on a far deeper level.

What is there really to lose?

Of course, that doesn’t make it easy to do.

Because we create illusions in our mind that can feel so damn real.

Let’s say you hold your hands up and admit to your flaws and weaknesses.

Not just to yourself, but to others too.

What do you really lose?

Things like saving face and being proud are ultimately illusions.

They mean nothing other than what you decide it means in your head.

Whilst self-respect is vital, pride is pretty useless.

It’s only ever protecting us from monsters that were never real in the first place.

The irony is that research has shown we admire vulnerability in others, despite shying away from it ourselves.

Seeing this for what it is can help you begin to embrace your weaknesses.

3 ways to embrace your weaknesses

1) Confront your perceptions of strength and weakness

I now see what a narrow image of strength I grew up believing in.

For my generation, the definition of a strong woman was someone who had ambition, could do it all, and didn’t need anyone’s help.

She kept her shit together and always put on a “brave face”.

Rather than cry, she would use her intellect and tough shell to push back.

Sadly this led to a slightly twisted version of what I saw as strong and what I believed was weak.

For starters, so many of our perceived weaknesses aren’t actually weak at all.

They’re human.

More than that. They’re the vitally important softness of life. Things like:

  • Compassion
  • Understanding
  • Tolerance
  • Vulnerability

When I started to allow and accept the softer side of myself, paradoxically, I became a far stronger person inside.

One who was more resilient, forgiving, adaptable, and prepared to tackle whatever life may bring. 

2) Practice vulnerability

I’ve already spoken a lot about vulnerability. And it’s something I’ve tried to increasingly practice in my life.

I say practice for good reason. Because mastering it isn’t easy.

I’ll be honest, it takes courage and commitment.

When you notice yourself hiding, it’s about consciously deciding not to.

That may look like:

  • Telling someone how you really feel
  • Admitting when you are hurt
  • Speaking your truth
  • Doing things you’re scared of
  • Asking for help
  • Admitting when you have made a mistake and got it wrong
  • Daring to let people see your weaknesses

3) Watch your self-talk

The thing that turns our weaknesses into monsters under the bed is our inner critic and negative self-talk.

It catastrophizes and blows them out of all proportion.

We’re actually hard-wired toward negativity. We look for the worst. And that means in ourselves too.

Mindfulness is how we can fight back against this negativity bias.

Try to stay vigilant about all the ways you are judgemental toward yourself. Stay alert for the unkind self-commentary that plays out throughout your day.

Answer it back. Question it. Create a new self-dialogue.

One that says loving things, one that recognizes your efforts, and that accepts you are only human and doing your best. 

To conclude: Embrace your weaknesses so you can be happier

Yes, by all means, do it to become a better version of yourself too.

That’s certainly admirable.

But personally, I say do it so you can learn to be kinder to yourself first and foremost.

Do it so you stop beating yourself up about every perceived flaw and imperfection.

Because you deserve to love yourself fully.

The funny thing is, when you do that you become stronger in the process anyway.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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