Personal strengths: what are they and how can they be valued in therapy?

Each of us knows that there are things which are given to us well and which are poorly given to us.

Likewise, we all have aspects of our way of being that are remarkable for good and bad, and which are viewed both positive and negative not only by us, but also by our fellow human beings and even by our culture. In the first case, we are talking about aspects that we see or that we see as our personal strengths.

But What exactly is personal strength? Is it possible to train or improve it? In this article, we will make a brief commentary on this.

    Personal strength: definition and basic characteristics

    By personal strengths we mean that set of abilities, characteristics or aspects of a psychological or attitudinal type in which we excel and which presuppose some type of virtue or adaptive advantage. It is these abilities that represent positive and desirable elements when it comes to personality.

    For a characteristic to be significant as a personal strength, it must be recognizable across cultures as something positive and desirable, valued by itself and not just by its results, and be able to generate satisfaction in the person who owns it. the same they must also be measurable and have an unwanted opposite. Another necessary element is the fact that this is a stable characteristic, generalizable to the way the subject acts, and that it is remarkable in some people and not so much (or even non-existent) in others. They must be something exemplary and visible and there must be people who manifest it early on.

    Personal strengths have a strong cultural background and are often linked to practically universal values ​​and may even be linked to virtues. The study of the psychology of such elements of the psychological field is relatively recent, forming part of positive psychology.

    It is a current or movement within psychology that advocates the analysis and study of the factors that they help generate and maintain well-being, Focus on these elements, being different from the more traditional approach in which studies have focused on the presence of deficits and mental disorders.

    In the analysis of mental forces stand out the figures of Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (two key authors of this paradigm), who even came to generate the Values ​​in Action project and even a personal strength questionnaire based on these studies.

      Examples of personal strengths

      There are many aspects that qualify as personal strengths. The aforementioned authors have even gone so far as to draw up a list in this regard, even if it can be perfectly extensible according to the values ​​considered positive in the majority. Below we indicate at 8:00 am examples of personal strength that can be very useful in our daily life.

      1. Ability to work in a team

      Probably one of the most in-demand skills at the job level is also seen as a powerful personal strength related to interpersonal relationships and productivity. However, being able to work in a team involves many elements such as the ability to negotiate he is distinguished mainly by his ability to coordinate his efforts with those of others to achieve a specific goal.

      2. Hope

      One of the personal strengths that helps us the most in our daily lives and when it comes to training and helping us achieve our goals is hope, specifically the ability to have it. This strength involves being able to look to the future and make positive predictions about it that will serve us well. advice and motivation to fight. This is important: it’s not just about waiting for good things to happen, but also working to achieve them.

      3. Mental flexibility and openness to experience

      Mental flexibility and openness to experience, although they are not exactly the same and can be seen as separate forces, have one thing in common: in both cases it implies that the person is capable of accept the existence of new possibilities other than those previously envisaged. In the case of openness to experience, there is also a component of curiosity, which is another possible personal strength.

      4. Curiosity

      Linked as facts to the previous ones, curiosity is the force or impulse that allows us to approach learning, to see or try new possibilities. This interest in the new allows us to be more flexible, to learn and to have much more diverse experiences.

      5. Impartiality

      Linked to the concept of justice, impartiality is a force which allows relatively objective judgments. It involves being able to put personal opinions aside and have our judgment on the situation. ignore our own emotional involvement in the matter.

      6. Persistence

      Perseverance or perseverance can be a personal strength of great interest. It involves the ability to start, continue, and complete a particular course of action, even though difficulties may arise. Stay even if it’s hard and fight for the goals set without giving up.

      7. Bondat

      A complex concept but certainly one of the most recognized assets and the most difficult to maintain. Kindness involves the ability to focus on helping others, to have a good disposition towards those around us, and to pretend not to hurt or harm others. It involves a certain level of compassion and love. Sometimes kindness too, while many people have the strength of kindness without necessarily being cordial or kind in their treatment.

      8. Love

      One of the forces that moves the world. Love as a force primarily refers to the ability to give and receive positive esteem and emotivity in interactions with loved ones and the environment. While strength generally focuses on the ability to give and receive affection from others, you also need to be able to love yourself.

      How to strengthen these personal qualities?

      Each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, and it may be more than desirable to reduce the latter and strengthen the former. However, for many people this can be tricky. empower and strengthen (worth the redundancy) our personal strengths. In order to achieve this, both on a personal level and in the event that we are in therapy and want our patient to train him, the following issues need to be considered.

      1. Identify the force

      Understanding which aspects of us are a force may seem a little intuitive and logical, but the truth is if we get into this realm, in many cases we will have a hard time finding them. And it is that thinking about what we are good at is not as common as it seems, often failing to value or recognize certain highly recognizable aspects of how we are and do things.

      Thus, the first step to strengthen our strengths is none other than make us aware of it. To do this, we can turn to different sources of information, including our own perception of the things we do and in which we see ourselves as highlighting and contrasting these beliefs with the opinions of others, or by asking others and by assessing whether their opinion is correct.

      2. Analyze the different factors that are part of it

      In addition to being aware of what we’re good at or the most remarkable aspects of who we are, it is advisable to try to fragment these capacities in such a way that we can see, already in the mentioned capacity, in which aspects we excel the most and in which it would be more opportune to work to strengthen them even more.

      3. Work on aspects specific

      It is not possible to indicate a unitary way of working all the forces, these being different from each other and requiring specific means and elements to exploit them. For example, in the case of love, kindness or even teamwork you will need to work on connecting with others and emotional expression, As well as some work in empathy.

      Likewise, justice or impartiality may require practice based on exposure to situations that involve ethical dilemmas, observing the existence of different equally valid positions, and taking into account the possibility of undertaking various actions.

      Perseverance would require setting realistic goals and visualization, planning and preparation for possible difficulties, as well as ways to act respectfully.

      Creativity could be trained by performing exercises that stimulate lateral thinking or with expressive therapies or in which art is used. The ability to imagine, read and visualize is also formable and facilitates both this and curiosity (which we can also improve by going deeper into the aspects that interest us).

      4. Test your strengths

      To be able to empower ourselves, we need to know not only our strengths, but also their limitations. It involves exposure to the practice of behavioral activities and experiences in which we observe how far we can go and what that means to us, in such a way that we can work to try to surpass ourselves.

      5. Train and practice

      As with most things in life (eg fitness or mastering a non-native language), those who are untrained usually lose or give up. That’s why we have to try practice our strengths with some frequency.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Clariano, SM and Rivers, P. (2012), Health Psychology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 04. CEDE: Madrid.
      • Peterson, C. and Seligman, MEP (2004). Strengths and virtues of the characters: manual and classification. OUP USA.
      • Seligman, MEP (2003). The real happiness. Barcelona: Bergara.

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