We have all seen the movie where the protagonist is a totally self-absorbed character—praised and rewarded by the adoring public for some remarkable talent or gift that has lost its meaning to him (think Tony Stark from Ironman). He or she has cabinets and closets full of awards, and the next one is simply tossed aside like an old candy wrapper. On the outside they have it all, but on the inside they’re thinking, “Is that all there is? I’ve gotten all the praise, wealth, and power that I have always sought and I still feel empty.”
Similarly, some of us know the experience of being appreciated or praised by others for our talents and gifts, but it has no meaning to us because we’re too focused on what we could have done better. Other times we don’t believe or feel that what they’re saying is even true.
“You are such a good ‘mother,’ ‘teacher,’ ‘friend,’ ‘salesman.’”
“You are so ‘smart,’ ‘pretty,’ ‘funny,’ ‘friendly.’”
These words fall on deaf ears, increasing our shame as we tell ourselves we should be better at each of these things.
Is it possible that both of these scenarios are, at root, the same?
We are all made with both strengths and weaknesses, assets and liabilities, pros and cons.
When we don’t accept the reality of our humanness, it keeps us from celebrating our true self.
The first character finds the celebration pointless, because it’s all coming from the outside. He isn’t celebrating himself because he isn’t facing his weaknesses in the context of his strengths. Since he is constantly having his strengths placed before him, he doesn’t look into the eyes of his weaknesses and see his humanity in them both. They must go together.
In the second case, we don’t celebrate ourselves because we don’t face our strengths and gifts in the context of our weaknesses. If all we focus on is our weaknesses, then we have no ability to see our strengths that complete our humanity. They must go together.
Living in your strengths and weaknesses isn’t easy. Even though we are created to live in openness and honesty with each other, facing and sharing our strengths or weaknesses with each other unfortunately isn’t the norm. Most of the time our stories have taught us that it’s not safe to do so.
But what if we took the chance? What if we found one person we could trust with our weaknesses? What if we risked telling someone that we are good at something?
If you struggle celebrating your strengths or weaknesses and want to learn how to celebrate your self, connect with one of our trained therapists today. We’re here to help.
Tim is the co-founder of Sage Hill Counseling – Memphis, along with Shad Berry. Tim has been counseling and/or teaching counseling for over 20 years. As a private practice counselor, he has years of experience with both individuals and couples.