In our first two posts, we discussed how to generate unlimited energy in our lives by focusing our attention on what’s working, as opposed to what isn’t.
Now the fun begins. One of the biggest drains on our energy is our tendency to focus on our own weaknesses. If you can relate, then by all means, read on. Your life is about to change BIG TIME.
I’m going to ask you right now to make a list of six of your greatest personal strengths and six of your most bothersome personal weaknesses. Make two separate columns, one for your strengths, and one for your weaknesses.
Got ‘em? Great! As you were making your list, what happened to your energy levels when you focused on your strengths? What about when you focused on your weaknesses? What insights are you gaining from your responses? Keep in mind that feelings are a major link to the right side of our brains–our intuition. Most people feel their energy levels rise when they think about their strengths, and experience falling energy levels when they think about their weaknesses.
In his book, Breaking the Rules, my amazing mentor Kurt Wright talks about how in physics, whenever energy is in motion, it creates a magnetic effect around that flow. He believes human energy does the same thing. Energy we use to focus on our weaknesses creates a powerful magnet-like attraction for problems, obstacles, mistakes, defensiveness, and failure. So the more we try to root out or “fix” the negatives in our lives, the more we attract the very things we don’t want! He says this is particularly true when we are trying to keep our weaknesses from being exposed. Wow. So, in other words, our efforts to fix what’s wrong is actually “what’s wrong!” How great could it be to abandon this futile effort and instead embrace an alternative that actually works?
What about the energy we devote to our strengths? You guessed it. These efforts magnetically and effortlessly attract us to the outcomes we really want to see.
Defensiveness is a particularly damaging form of focusing on our weaknesses. It occurs when we try to cover up, or prevent others from “discovering” our weaknesses, and it begins the instant we assign a negative value to facts about ourselves. When we are critical of ourselves, when we find fault with ourselves or others, or by judging things as negative in any way, we set in motion a chain reaction that leads straight to our defensiveness, along with all of the associated unwanted and self-limiting consequences that limit our growth and development.
Freedom from Defensiveness
If we can agree that defensiveness is related to the energy we put into our weaknesses, whether protecting ourselves from being discovered or trying to “fix” them, then it’s clear we have to find better way of dealing with our weaknesses. Kurt has it. He brilliantly asks us if there is a way to measure darkness. If you think about this for a few minutes, you will undoubtedly conclude that it is impossible to measure darkness. All we can really do is measure amounts of light, in degrees, starting from none (or zero).
He next asks if you could show him a way to measure cold. Initially you might say, of course! However, if you look at each solution you might propose, you’ll see that it is no more possible to measure cold than it is to measure darkness. All we are able to do is measure heat, starting from Absolute Zero, and getting warmer with each degree.
Weaknesses Do Not Exist
Now comes my favorite part. The obvious next question is, “If we can’t measure darkness or cold, how do you propose to measure weakness?” The same principle has to apply, right? In other words, if there is nothing less than zero, there can be no such thing as a weakness. There are only degrees of strength!
The concept of weakness is nothing more than a made-up construct of the human mind. Before this minute, you have probably looked at your strengths and weaknesses using a scale like this one below:
What have we just done to ourselves when we adopt a line of thinking like this? Whenever we assign an artificial zero point well above true zero on our own personal scales, we have just attached a negative value called “weakness” to any measurement that falls below our imaginary zero! This creates defensiveness in ourselves that is absolutely unnecessary, uncalled for, and FALSE. Instead, please consider the true scale for measuring strengths below:
Looking at our two scales above, a former -4 on the top scale of strengths and weaknesses, becomes a +1 on the bottom scale of strengths, and a former 5 becomes a 10! If you now go back and look at what you listed as your six most bothersome personal weaknesses, you will see that they aren’t really weaknesses at all—they’re strengths! They may be small strengths for the time being, but they are still strengths you do have.
How does this sudden shift in your perspective change the energy you feel around these new-found strengths you have? How would a permanent shift in your perspective affect your level of self-esteem around these areas you have previously worried about and defended against?
Any concern we might have felt over our weaknesses, over poor self-image, low self-esteem or any other negative attitudes we may have been struggling to overcome are direct consequences of our own choice to set an artificial or imaginary zero point well above true zero on our scale of strengths. You’ve been locked in a jail cell that YOU created for yourself!
From this moment on, you have the opportunity to get out of that jail and free yourself of the made-up story that you have any weaknesses at all, because you simply don’t! Are you willing to fully accept and begin enjoying this new awareness that only strengths exist?
See you in our next installment!