Why We Deny our Strengths

Outward-Focus Bias
Many times, when people are told they have strengths, their first reaction is to deny them. They may desire to believe, but their self-limiting beliefs kept them back from exploring these possible strengths. Most people are not encouraged to discover their strengths on an ongoing basis into their adult years. People instead are trained to focus outward, this will reduce their consciousness regarding their strengths. A person may believe that their strengths as a person must come from an external, rather than an internal source. An example would be to meet Prince Charming, have children and live the Cinderella dream. There is nothing wrong with these thoughts about meeting a great spouse or enjoying having children, but where in this storyline do individuals begin to explore and value their talents and strengths? Personal strengths should be enhanced by relationships, but not camouflaged by relationships. People need to discover and define their life by their natural strengths. Everyone possesses much strength to share in the world.
“Intelligence” Labels
Maybe a person grew up believing that they would drop out of school and make minimum wage because this is the environment and behavior modeled in his or her life. Self-limiting beliefs about who we are and who we can become are just that: limiting.
In a historical 2008 research survey by New York sociologist, Patrick Sharkey and co-author Felix Elwert surveyed thousands of American families and found that the first generation of children that grew up in poor neighborhoods ran a higher risk for ending up in poor neighborhoods as adults. When first-generation became parents, this tendency for their children for living in poor neighborhoods continued. The study also showed that these families got less education, worse jobs, if any, and bore more physical, social, and psychological problems. There is a direct correlation between what is believed and how a person lives their life.
Entertaining self-limiting thoughts are restrictive to the development and manifestation of an individual’s inherent strengths. Limited thinking and beliefs lead to settling for less than our best. During school years, we measured strengths by a grade received in a particular class. The belief was that you must be good at a subject if you received a good mark. The grade mark became a mental confirmation.
For example, if a student is told they have average intelligence in the eighth grade and that technical school versus college prep classes in high school is best for them, then very likely the student will easily buy into this belief. The belief can be even more destructive if it comes from a person of authority. Young children on the other hand believe in the extraordinary for their life. They say they want to grow up to do and become amazing people like the President of the United States or a great lawyer, scientist, teacher, or doctor. They have not bought into the self-limiting beliefs at this development period of their life. Discovering one’s strengths and embracing them leads to a satisfying and fulfilling life. It is a journey worth taking.

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