“It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”
Finding some balance between letting our limitations overwhelm us like heavy weights around our ankles versus letting our strengths seem like impenetrable armor is difficult.
When I was young I was taught about the opposites that exist within me at home, in school, and at church. One part of me was my good side the other part was my bad side, in cartoons this was represented by an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.
Later in life I learned to frame the opposite ideas of good and bad differently. I was taught in college to help clients see their strengths and their limitations and that both can be good and bad. The context of how useful the strength could be, in different situations, made it a good or bad thing.
The idea that a personal strength could be a bad thing was a curious concept. How could something good like strength, ever be a bad thing? In an assessment called, The Friendly Style Profile (2004), a strength in excess can become a liability.
An example given in the profile is that a functional quality (or strength) in times of duress can change into a dysfunctional version of itself. A person who is normally careful (functional strength) can become wary (first level of excess) when under distress and can shift into being obsessive (second level of excess) when overwhelmed.
[Careful > Wary > Obsessive]
Another route to excess: Hopeful >becomes> Disillusioned> becomes> Despairing.
The equation I have come to believe is that what limits us can make us stronger or better, in the right circumstances, and what makes us strong can feel bad, in the wrong circumstances.
One Thing To Do: Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. Write Good at the top of one side and Bad at the top of the other. List all the qualities you believe belong under each title. Then look at how each good thing could become a problem if overused, and look at how each bad thing can become a life lesson.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.