Strength is an empowering personal resource! Whilst strength has various connotations in different situations, let’s focus on the domains of psychological and interpersonal functioning. In these areas of our lives, strength is typically associated with qualities such as energy, vigour, robustness, intensity, power, authority, stamina, and resilience. What are the components of mental/emotional/social strength that engender such powerful associations? Take a moment to consider the diversity of strengthening resources you have access to. These may include personal traits, skills you have or are learning, social supports and spirituality, among others.
To unpack the power of strength, it can be helpful to work with the concept of multiple strengths. Seeing yourself as having various skills, talents and abilities in diverse settings can facilitate a broadening of your self-knowledge and development.
Let’s consider your strengths as positive patterns. Your own unique strengths encompass the traits, skills, talents, and abilities that help you function effectively and productively in the world and with other people. They may engender feelings of mastery and self-worth, and boost self-esteem. Increasing awareness of your strengths, becoming familiar with them and trusting them will help you build and nurture self-acceptance. By taking steps to develop and apply your strengths, you can use them consciously to enhance your daily functioning and to achieve your goals.
Identify which of your personal traits, skills, talents and abilities you trust and can rely on to function well and meet challenges, and which ones you would like to develop further to boost your confidence across a range of life domains and spheres of activity.
Practice, practice, practice!
Following these steps of self-reflection, the next task involves applying your strengths in daily life. To further develop and refine both your trusted and desired strengths, practicing them is essential. Trying out a new trait, skill or ability may at times require you to ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. This takes courage. Enacting your desired strength with a positive belief in yourself and your capacity to learn and grow can result in rewarding outcomes. Trusting your traits, skills, talents and abilities is essential for being able to practice them in real-life situations. It’s helpful to remember that ‘believing is seeing’ when it comes to being able to enact your desired strengths and outcomes with others.
Encouraging self-talk, such as reciting supportive affirmations, and visualising positive images of yourself displaying your desired behaviours can be very helpful. Surrounding yourself with people who support you and your strengths, and nurturing such affirming relationships, also provides invaluable fuel for empowerment.
Whenever you find yourself needing or desiring new strengths, you can develop them through self-reflection, support from trusted others such as a professional, and practice, practice, practice!
As a starting point, take a moment to reflect on your strengths in the following domains:
Cognitive strengths may include encouraging self-talk, positive affirmations, and taking a helpful, solution-focussed perspective on situations.
Emotional strengths encompass such things as sensitivity to your own and others’ feelings and needs, self-soothing skills, and skills to calm others down when they are upset.
Behavioural strengths might include assertive communication, leadership skills, following through on goals and plans, and effectively breaking down large tasks into smaller, manageable steps.
Another approach involves exploring and identifying your own personal strengths with these three basic steps:
You may wish to try the following affirmations for enhancing and practicing your strengths. Recite them out loud to yourself in front of a mirror and write them down on post-it notes to place in easy view as you go about your daily activities.
My talents and skills are always available to me.
I trust my abilities to see me through any situation.
I breathe, go within, and think empowering thoughts.
Strength is always within me.
My strength makes me capable and resilient
In the free resources section of our website there is a Character Strength Questionnaire to help you identify your strengths that can be tapped into right now. Remember we have psychologists available to support and guide you if you want.
About the author, Dr Dasha Bliss, B.A.(Psych), B.Psych(Hons), M.Psych(Clin), PhD(SocSc) – Clinical psychologist
Dasha is a Registered Psychologist who is passionate about working closely with people to help them find greater meaning, purpose and fulfilment during challenging times in their lives. She is committed to a client-centred model of care and utilises evidence-based interventions in her practice. Her clinical experience spans private and public sectors, rural and remote regions, and includes working with youth and adults. Dasha has a particular interest in helping people to connect with and live their deepest values, draw on their personal strengths to overcome difficulties and rediscover meaning through their personal spirituality. Dasha is available for telephone consultations and provides some after business hours appointments.