6 Ways Accepting Your Weaknesses Can Empower You

acceptance humility weakness

This kind of self-knowledge is hard to swallow but it can be empowering for a number of reasons:

  1. It allows you to compensate for your known weaknesses so you can be of better service to others. If you know that you are an introvert, signing on for a job that requires a lot of networking at late-night parties might not be the best idea. You’ll get frustrated and those relying on you will be disappointed. You know your strengths, so try to find a way to apply them so everyone’s happy.
  2. It can help you look out for your personal traps. When you know that you tend to react poorly to certain situations, you can learn to identify them and watch out for yourself. I don’t do so well at parties. I tend to withdraw and look for reasons to bail, and when I can’t, I get irritable, which is a downer for everyone. I’ve learned, however, that there are usually others who are also uncomfortable, and I can enjoy myself if I find one person to have a deep conversation with. So I do that, instead of letting myself get pulled into a socially-isolating spiral of self-doubt and frustration.
  3. It allows you to surround yourself with complementary skill sets. It was said of Andrew Carnegie that he wasn’t himself a brilliant man, but he surrounded himself with brilliant men. He knew his strengths--bringing people together, organizing projects--and his weaknesses--presumably the technical stuff. This allowed him to empower himself by seeking out those who complemented, and compensated for, his own skill set. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do things yourself or expand your skill set; I have trouble wrapping my head around marketing, so I ask for help with it, but writing comes naturally, so I’m fine directing my own education in new writing skills.
  4. It helps you choose the right relationships. Maybe you wish you could be happy settling down with a white picket fence and a golden retriever, so you look for a partner who wants those things too. But if you’re honest with yourself (look at your life history and how you’ve handled major decisions), you have avoided settling down. Until you can accept and come to terms with your self, you can bet it will cause friction in a relationship. You might also create false expectations (I’m talking from experience here). It’s great to choose a partner who will inspire you to grow in the direction you want, but be upfront about the fact that you are not there yet, and learn to be okay with that. Claiming to want something you don’t is a recipe for disaster. It helps to have clarity on what you want out of life.
  5. It helps you develop compassion for the most important person in your life. Let’s face it, no matter how flawed you are, you still have to live with yourself. Self-hatred is pointless, but true compassion requires an acceptance and acknowledgement of a person’s suffering and weaknesses. If you think you’re always right and have an ego, you don’t have to exercise understanding with yourself. If, on the other hand, you know you’ve got some issues, you can take a step back and see that you should be kind and gentle to yourself, just as you would be forgiving to a child who doesn’t know any better or is slave to their untamed emotions.
  6. It helps you develop compassion for others. When you know your weaknesses intimately, you know how frustrating it is to live with them. This gives you much deeper insight into the lives and frustrations of others. Instead of just cursing at the hesitant driver, you’ll relate through your own paralyzing fear of dancing in public. Instead of hating your boyfriend who is so out of touch with his emotions, you’ll relate through your own blindness to your need to rest, and you’ll see how confusing and painful something like that can be.

Hopefully, you can see the value of really getting up close and personal with your shortcomings. Sit with them, cry with them, tear your hair out over them, share them with others, be vulnerable and humble. It’s hard, but it’s just as necessary as believing in yourself unconditionally.

Of course, you’ll need to figure out what they are first, and humans can be really creative about avoiding an honest look at themselves; we sometimes don’t even see our weaknesses, much less admit them. The topic of this week’s newsletter is an exercise on bringing to awareness a weakness and learning to accept it. Sign up for the e-mail list to make sure you get it.

Photo credit: Ludovico Sinz on Flickr