Your greatest strength might be your greatest weakness

yin-yangWhen I was in high school, somebody told me that one’s greatest strength was also their greatest weakness, and vice versa. At first, this idea seemed silly, but that was because I took it too literally. I came to interpret it as: a character trait can be equally good and bad.

Those of you who have read my post Thanksgiving Day might have inferred that I’m a perfectionist. I used to think this was the “inoffensive fault” you acknowledge to look good in interviews. A few years later, it became incapacitating. Now, I can finally see it for what it is: a character trait with its upsides and downsides.

do-or-do-not-01Before I take on any project, I’ll weight it, do research and analyse the odds of my being able to achieve good results. Perfectionism can give me Spartan self-discipline to achieve my goal. If I’m going to do something halfheartedly, I’d rather not do it at all.

Sounds great? Now, apply that to weight loss. No matter how you look at it, dropping 11% of your weight in a month can’t be too healthy. Apply it to saving money. Hello Scrooge!

It also means that I’d rather not start anything if I don’t think I can ace it. I admire those who can dive right in without overthinking anything.

Got my point yet? The problem is that your strong personality traits will creep into everything you do.

Despair not! The good news is coming.

If your greatest quality can become your greatest weakness, the reverse is possible: your greatest weakness can become your greatest quality!

Now, it’s important that you look at it from a personality trait point of view: thinking your greatest weakness is some disease or unfortunate situation will only make you feel miserable. I’m not saying those can’t make you stronger. They can, but then it all comes down to how you deal with them.

It can also be easy to mistake the symptom for the cause. For example, symptoms of my perfectionism are anxiety, insomnia and procrastination. Actually, perfectionism itself is probably a symptom of an even larger issue: I’m too much in my own head.


What should I do?

Identify the weakness and be honest with yourself. It’s easy to fool yourself when it’s agreeable. I used to score almost always INFP at a Myers Briggs personality test. Beautiful personalities, those INFP. For Harry Potter fans, that would be Luna Lovegood. I do believe I’m half INFP. The ugly truth is that my other half is INTJ. That would be Drago Malefoy. In Star Wars, it would be Palpatine. Not quite as shiny, is it?girl-1-copie

Now, identify the adverse consequences. See how that could become positive. You’re hyperactive? Good! Focus all that energy of your on something (or several things) that means something to you. You’re aggressive? That’s an awesome quality in the business world.

Work toward keeping your character traits in a healthy range. Everybody’s character traits are somewhere between two extremes, but you can move them a bit. Make them less extreme in strategic areas. How? I have had cognitive behavioural therapy and it helped me tremendously. I also like introspection, i.e. analysing my behaviour and my thoughts. I also read books on psychology and philosophy.

Can you relate? Is your greatest strength also your greatest fault?

Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.

– Frank Ocean


44 thoughts on “Your greatest strength might be your greatest weakness

  1. I’ve always felt that my extreme sensitivity to others is my greatest weakness. I still do. I can be overwhelmed by the different personalities in a large group setting. I tend to wish that everyone just take off their masks and let their hair down so to speak. I’ve channeled that sensitivity into my writing. So now it’s also one of my strengths, or so I like to think. 😊

    Liked by 4 people

    • Ah, the mask! It used to drive me crazy. Growing older, I’ve learned to live with it and even to wear one myself, when I know people don’t really want to see what’s behind.
      In psychology, the mask is actually regarded as useful in terms of socialization. And indeed, I find that people “like me” more when I wear one. It’s tiresome though… if I wear it too long, when I take it off I become Grumpy McGrumpy. ^^; I only wear it in certain situations or with certain people.
      Thank you for commenting! ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

      • I suspect that we all wear a mask in certain situations. Sometimes out of necessity, sometimes to protect our true selves. Like you, I’ve learned to accept it for what it is. There are times though that I wish they weren’t a reality. I love your blog btw. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • I would have to agree. We seem very uncomfortable to admit and/or expose our imperfections. I’m guilty of that as well at times. It’s a little ironic given that none of us are perfect. As you mention, we all need to be able to laugh at our selves from time to time. We shouldn’t take ourselves or life too seriously sometimes. Laughter continues to be the best medicine.☺ Social media has given rise to this idea of a perfect version of our lives. We’re all aware of it, but we continue to perpetuate the myth.

        Liked by 1 person

    • @Ida Love this post and I totally get your feelings regarding two sides to every trait. Your description made me think of mixing the contrast on a photo editor. @Brenda, I feel the same regarding my sensitivity to others and how it interferes with everything I do. I totally appreciate the way you feel socially as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for replying. 🙂 That would make for an amazing image. 🙂 I suspect that our sensitivity to others runs deep through many writers. It helps fuel our writing. It’s probably one of the reasons that I feel so comfortable here among other writers. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to always say I was a perfectionist. Similarly, I realized I was always procrastinating when I wasn’t completely confident about the outcome of a given project. It’s something I’ve been trying to be aware of over the last few months. I like what you say about keeping it all in a healthy range.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment! ^_^
      I often have to make a conscious effort to keep my perfectionism in check, but it definitely can be done. Also, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.


  3. Thanks Ida, this is a really amazing and i’m sure helpful-to-many post – well done on first identifying and then being able to express and share the weakness and strength derivative…

    All the best – your blog looks lovely as a whole as well
    Keep on
    love brett fish

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very true! My family, for example, are my greatest strength. The support they have provided me in each stage of life have boosted my it by a great extent. However I do feel at times they are weakness too. Every decision I take, I have to think of the impact that it may cause to them. How would it affect them. Nice post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is something that I’ve never really thought of, but I always knew that my being a perfectionist set me back in some ways. For example, my younger sister did all kinds of things like cooking and sewing, but I never tried it unless my mom or older sister were right there to show me each step, because I was so afraid of messing up. Needless to say, my younger sister ended up out doing me in a lot of things. I am finally overcoming my fear of messing up, and the end results of my efforts not being perfect. When I started my blog I actually didn’t give it much thought for once! If I had thought it through, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. I’ll have to admit though, I enjoy being a perfectionist. I love being able to do a job to-the-T. Since I’m learning to find a balance things are going much better for me. Thanks for the post! You did a great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing this! Definitely, introspection is the best way to become more aware of our attributes and how they impact our life positively/negatively. I’ve recently read “The Meaning of Life” by Viktor E. Frankl, and I find it pairs really well with your post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I always come up INTJ, which does make sense to me, although I wouldn’t necessarily compare myself to Draco. 🙂 The difference between INFJ and INTJ, as far as I understand, is that decisions are made from the heart or from the brain. I do tend to make decisions based on logic rather than feelings. I think intuition (your “gut”) blooms from both or either one. So, my intuition is based on logic, or what makes sense, rather than how I feel. The times I was led to make choices based on feelings alone, tended to result in regret. I can be impulsive, so if I don’t step back and think, it usually winds up being a bad call.

    Interesting discussion. I guess even though I should be some sort of evil genius (I’m neither of those!), INTJ might mean that my strength lies in being able to be quite diplomatic and level-headed when many people flip-flop, panic or waver. The weakness I suppose is that sometimes other people think my decisions are cold, lacking empathy, etc. It’s not that my heart is made of ice! It’s quite big and loving, actually. It just doesn’t run the show when decisions are required.

    This certainly made me think…! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is one of the reasons why I love MBTI: you’re talking about yourself here and I feel like I could just as well have written the same thing about me (except I do panic at times, and I’m not impulsive).

      I think the reason why INTJs are often portrayed as villains is that they have the potential to create complex plans and strategies for whatever purpose, including world domination. Add to that a motive and a lack of moral sense and you’ve got a pretty scary person. But, with a strong moral sense, you can just as well get a great hero, like Katniss Everdeen. Even Draco: had he been born a Weasley, even though he’d still be an INTJ, he’d probably be completely different – much sweeter. The Wesley’s is the family that looks the most like mine, and if not for my family and everything they taught me (values, empathy, sympathy) I could have been a Draco.

      That being said, I think with a little imagination, any MBTI type could be either a hero or a villain. Aaaand now I really want to try and craft a believable villain/hero for all 16 types, haha. That would be so much fun!


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