Things in life seem to have two sides to them. Polar opposites; a pro and a con; an up-side, and a downside; but really, it is our perception and judgement of what is, that predicts how we see it.
Our personality tendencies are such. We all have different personalities and tendencies, perhaps some traits that we like, and some that we may not like. For example, one might be very strict and orderly in their ways, which can produce order, tidiness, cleanliness, but doesn’t allow for flexibility, flow or spontaneity. I know a lady who is very strict with keeping her home in order. I said that I envied her. She replied that it is not always such a good trait, as she cannot leave things, and go and do anything fun unless every little last detail has been tended to. Anything left undone annoys her. In this way, her strength, her ability to organize, prioritize, be strict and disciplined, is also her bane.
I have the opposite problem, which in a way is my weakness, and yet is a strength even though I struggle to see it that way. I can be too wishy-washy. I am not strict, disciplined and orderly, and it vexes me. It doesn’t always make me happy to be that way, but it has helped me to become flexible, and tolerant. I have become more observant and perceptive to feelings and others’ needs. It has taught me to be more accepting of how things are.
This double-sided coin is the same for people and horses. A horse that is not bothered by much, can make a great kid’s horse, or a great mount for a beginner or novice. The same horse would be unsuitable for someone with a lot of experience, who wants responsiveness. That person is more suited to a sensitive horse. That sensitive horse needs a person who can read them accurately, and respond to them with correct questions and timing.
Another example, is people who are great speakers, but struggle to listen. And we also have the opposite; people who are great listeners, but who find it difficult to put thought to word. Both types contain great advantages and difficulties. The people for whom words come easily, may find it hard to stop speaking, and feel frustration towards themselves for this. But this mustn’t be viewed as necessarily bad, as this person who is a great speaker, may make a good leader, a good person to be in charge, or a great teacher who is able to help others understand complex concepts, philosophies, and perspectives. This ability that comes easily for them, may be put to good use.
Then for the person for who words do not come easily, they may find their inability to speak easily, frustrating, and see their tendency as their weakness. But this trait may actually be their strength, as they may able to provide the space for others to express themselves openly. They may be able to feel empathy more easily. They may be able to understand abstract concepts. They may make great nurses, artists, nurturers, therapists, doctors and healers. Their seeming “weakness” is now their strength.
Whatever trait or tendency you have, you can start to see how it is also a strength. You can definitely also work to balance it with some of the opposite of how you are inclined to be, but without condemning yourself.
I found this fascinating to realize, and began seeking to see the strength in what may have appeared as a weakness in myself or others. It helped me to acknowledge the good that comes from a particular trait, and to see that tendency, as a gift. Both in myself, and in others.
A fun exercise is to make a list of your traits that you like, and then another list of traits about yourself that you have struggled to appreciate. Then to begin to write about how that might actually be a gift to you and others. You might be pleasantly surprised! I hope so.