Knowledge is power, and self-knowledge is self-power. If you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can consciously work around your blind spots while maximizing on your good attributes. Don’t see your flaws as shortcomings, but instead learn what you can from them and focus on the good.
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Peter Hollins is a bestselling author, human psychology researcher, and a dedicated student of the human condition.
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Staying mindful and conscious of what’s going on in body and mind is potent way of staying on top of self-discipline simply because the more you know, the better prepared you can be. As we saw in an earlier chapter, a big part of managing temptations is being aware of what triggers you to cheat or stray in the first place, and then avoiding those things you know will distract or derail you. This only works, of course, if you actually have real insight into how you tick. If we can drop our egos enough to be honest about our weak points, we can pre-empt any temptations or challenges and act to avoid them before they trip us up.
Our mindfulness tips so far have understandably focused on being present in the moment, but sometimes being more mindful means understanding how you will act in the future, and then adjusting accordingly. Knowledge is power, as they say, and self-knowledge is self-power!
Be proactive. Why put yourself in the position of having to fend of temptation in the moment when you can avoid it hours or days before? If you know you need to run a 5K this Saturday but your friend is having a barbeque on Friday night, it might be best to skip it. That single decision, powered by knowledge of your weaknesses and common-sense about how events are likely to unfold, saves you from having to wrestle with yourself later on. If you know that having snack food in the pantry leads you to go on a binge and eat it all, don’t keep food in the pantry.
It’s a very empowering perspective to take: we all have weaknesses, yes, but we also possess the tools to fight back against these demons. All that’s needed is honest self-awareness of where you are right now, and an intelligent strategy for working around your blind spots.
How to Use This in Your Life Immediately
Hooray! It’s list time again. Make two lists—on one list write down all the value you bring to the world. Think of those things that come easy to you, your skills and passions. Think of those things that you can do for hours and never procrastinate on. The other list contains your weaknesses. Don’t beat yourself up though, this is just about those things that are challenging right now for you, those things you’re not comfortable or familiar with, or those things that you’ve struggled with in the past.
Bringing self-awareness to both these aspects helps because it can guide your action:
For your strengths, constantly ask how you can leverage what you’re already good at and make the best use of your natural talents and passions. Look at the things on your list and ask if you have enough opportunity to enjoy, benefit from or express these aspects.
For your weaknesses, constantly ask what more you need to do to develop (again, this best done with as little ego as possible!). For some weaknesses, you may never “fix” them, but you can definitely work around them, pre-empt them or mitigate them.
Even better if you can use your strengths to almost bootstrap improvement with your weaknesses—i.e., how can you use your talents to balance, offset, or improve on those less developed parts of yourself?
Remember to be honest about your strengths and don’t think that your weaknesses are a shortcoming—in fact, they are your teachers and will show you the areas where you have most to gain if you invest in them.