In the past, I have had a problem with “black and white” thinking. If something was good, it was good. If something was bad, it was bad. Opposites had two entirely different bins. Because they were opposites, how could they possibly be one in the same? How could they possibly share properties? Wasn’t that the very definition of opposite?
One person was really responsible for setting this idea into motion. I was coming up on my orange belt test, and I found that I was suddenly having difficulty executing basic techniques. I had practiced these same techniques over months with much progress. It seemed as if I became leaden and weighted. I became extremely frustrated and distracted, making practice much more difficult.
My instructor asked, “Are you nervous?”
I hadn’t even considered it. Anxiety had become automatic for me. I took a moment and replied, “Yes.”
“Good,” she said. I was taken aback. How was anxiety a positive thing? It was hindering me, and preventing me from progressing. I thought that it might even be my doom, by causing me to fail my test. She suggested, “Turn your mind off and focus that abundant energy into your techniques. You don’t need to think about it anymore. It’s all stored into your muscle memory.”
I took a moment to compose myself. I threw all of that energy into firing off techniques. Suddenly, I unweighted and pivoted with ease. The forms were coming back together and my strength and agility were returning to me. It seemed that by translating that nervous energy into a physical outlet, I had actually gained a significant asset.
There are two sides to every coin. The point is, the two sides share a coin. The coin itself allows the two sides to share properties, butt up against each other. While one represents something, and the other side seems to be opposite, they are really one in the same. All we have to do is flip the coin.
In my last article, “I Am the Best Me”, I touched upon gaining a different perspective on our own weaknesses. Many of us are painfully aware of our own “flaws”. They are probably something that has become a primary focus at one point or another. , In the search for answers and solutions, we’ve invested an abundance of time and energy into putting them under the microscope and dissecting them. There is a certain idea that if we deconstruct them, then we may be able to reassemble them into a strength. It pushes us to put an exhausting, but fruitless effort into transforming an aspect of ourselves that is just simply a part of our nature.
There are the obvious things we can’t change. I’m 5’1” and 28 years old. There is no hope that I will ever grow taller. I can wobble around in heels all day, but it doesn’t adequately compensate for my natural size. I have a naturally larger frame, so I can’t ever realistically expect to be thin like the models. My feet are awkwardly large for a woman of my size. Knowing that I can’t be anything different is a little discouraging in a certain light.
But, experience has taught me that those perceived flaws are actually advantages. In martial arts, I can use certain physical qualities to my advantage. Many taller people are long range fighters, due to their long limbs. By moving in close, I can jam up their attacks and land quite a few blows. A wider frame provides a natural opportunity for a greater muscle mass. In combination with larger feet, I can have a stronger stance, making it more difficult for me to get knocked down. And being small in general gives me speed and agility that other opponents may not have.
When we examine the more intangible things, such as character traits and personality, it’s a little less obvious. This is especially so when we’re incorporating symptoms of disorder into the mix. I’ve spent a lot of time splitting hairs between the two, in the attempt to discern what I could “fix” and what I couldn’t. Although it initially provided relief by eliminating the idea that I was “irreparably damaged”, that microanalysis eventually ended up doing me more harm than providing benefits. It sought to put everything under the microscope under a lens of negativity.
Personality from disorder isn’t a cut and dry as we initially perceive. In time, I discovered that my personality and disorder had a complex relationship. They shared many things, but there was one thing they both had in common. My personality and disorder were both directly influenced by my value system. It made me realize that they are really rooted in the same entity, my core self.
|Perceived Flaws||Translated Strength|
That’s just to name a few.
When we redefine our weaknesses as strengths, we can begin to see how they benefit us. All of these traits have developed my creative nature. That creativity isn’t just applicable to writing and other artistic outlets. It benefits my problem solving skills and personal relationships. By understanding our true natures, we can start to redefine ourselves. This aids in identifying personal dysfunctions as something beneficially functional. This is the root of the development of adaptive strategies.
So, drag out the thesaurus and tell me – what are your strengths?