6 Ways to Discover Your Strengths
Courage, humanity, justice, honesty, persistence, enthusiasm, resilience… Getting to know your strengths will allow you to get to know yourself better in order to work on your dreams and boost your mental health. After all, this is an exercise in self-discovery that’s key to many psychotherapeutic approaches, such as acceptance and commitment therapy. But how can you discover your strengths?
There are many people who navigate their day-to-day lives with a feeling of emptiness and insecurity. Not carrying out this exercise of introspection, which offers an awareness of their own virtues and abilities, places them in a defenseless sphere where it’s difficult to find ways to discover their strengths.
Consequently, if you want to avoid this type of anguish and empower yourself, it’s time to clarify the values that define you. In the following article, we offer you the tools to achieve it.
How do I know what my strengths are?
Martin Seligman is the positive psychology figure who has contributed the most to the understanding of human strengths. His book Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (2004), written together with psychologist Christopher Peterson, is a reference in this matter. It’s a valuable piece of research and self-knowledge as useful as it is inspiring.
One of the most outstanding contributions of the aforementioned work is to classify the strengths of character, which allows them to be measured throughout life. At the same time, it’s worth noting the relevance of this dimension in the area of mental well-being.
Clarifying which are the strongest points of your character and personality favors your life satisfaction and your orientation toward happiness, as demonstrated by a study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology.
We’re talking about an interesting, practical, and therapeutic dimension in which it’s worth empowering ourselves. Therefore, below, we’ll offer you some elements and concepts that will allow you to discover your strengths.
Discover also: William James and His Formula for Boosting Self-Esteem
1. Standardized instruments
Currently, there are various psychometric instruments to discover your strengths. These are self-assessment tests or tests that have been developed for this purpose and that, in addition, are validated by science. Likewise, they’re effective standardized resources that will allow you to carry out a good exercise in self-reflection and self-discovery. Among these, the most significant are the following:
VIA Character Strengths
This is based on the model proposed by Peterson and Seligman (2004) in the book that we mentioned earlier. Among its characteristics, we find:
- It’s a test-type instrument that’s used in academic, corporate, and therapy environments.
- It evaluates 24 strengths that are grouped into six virtues: Transcendence, humanity, wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice.
- According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, which reviewed the performance of the test since its publication, this is a useful tool for clarifying dimensions related to strengths.
Assessment of the needs and strengths of adults (ANSA)
This instrument is characterized by evaluating twelve psychological areas on the virtues or strengths of a person. One of its advantages is that it detects both the current strengths and the potential that the person presents in other areas.
2. Reflection and clarification exercise
Perhaps in your daily life, so dominated by haste, stress, and the weight of immediacy, you barely have space for reflection. What’s more, just when you have a moment to yourself, you prefer to rest your mind with a book or series. This type of mental focus takes you away from yourself and the opportunity to get to know yourself and to know what your most outstanding assets are.
Therefore, another way to discover your strengths is by asking yourself questions to learn more about yourself. We’ll offer some of them below. Always have a pen and paper handy to better reflect on these areas.
- What successes have I had in the past?
- What do I like the most about myself?
- What are my strengths? What am I good at?
- What are my strengths according to the people who love me?
- How do those aspects that define me impact my life?
3. Visualization and projection technique
To discover the strengths of your character, you must also look to the future; That’s where your potential resides, the material of your dreams, and what you want to be. To get to that point, you need to specify what virtues and skills you have to conquer your peaks.
One way to do this is through the visualization technique. Research shared by Basic and Applied Social Psychology points to the benefits of this resource to improve performance, well-being, and self-awareness. The strategies to execute it consist of imagining the best version of you in the future and asking yourself the questions that we’re listing now:
- What’s that “future self” like? What strengths define you?
- What does this “future me” do and why are they proud of themself?
- How could you work on your current strengths to get to that “ideal you”?
4. Try different activities
Within the ways to discover your strengths, the development of the following actions is also contemplated:
- Be aware of your strengths.
- Try starting new hobbies or activities.
- Challenge yourself, get out of the routine, and set new resolutions.
- Seek to solve problems that arise in new situations.
- Find out what you’re passionate about and what you’re good at in those different contexts.
One way to discover your strengths is by opening yourself up to new scenarios and activities, to know what you’re capable of doing.
5. Build your self-portrait of strengths
If people have trouble identifying our strengths, it’s because we don’t value ourselves enough. Dimensions such as low self-esteem or impostor syndrome condition us in this sense. In addition, we don’t always carry out an exercise in self-awareness, from which to glimpse how valuable and skilled we are in infinite areas and scenarios.
In this regard, another of the ways you have to discover your strengths is to analyze each sphere of your life and create a “self-portrait”.
A publication in the Journal of Happiness Studies informs us that the work is an ideal scenario to develop and identify these dimensions. You can start with this area and continue with those that define your day-to-day life. The methodology to achieve this is made up of the aspects that we’ll show you below.
Clarify your worth in the workplace
- What do your colleagues highlight about you?
- What are your strengths and skills in your job?
- What strengths allow you to be good at your job?
- What are your professional goals and what strengths could help you achieve them?
Clarify your worth in the personal scenario
- What are your hobbies and what skills do you show in them? (Sports, humanitarian actions, artistic tasks, etc.)
- When you’re with your family and friends, what strengths do you show with them? (Kindness, support, sense of humor, etc.)
- Throughout your life, what strengths have allowed you to face your problems?
6. Reflect on what makes you happy
A strength is an internal tool that allows you to flourish and show the best of yourself. It is not something that’s difficult for you to demonstrate, but rather it arises from within naturally and sets you apart from others.
Therefore, a simple and inspiring path within the ways to discover your strengths is to do more of what you like. If you’re an athlete, perhaps yours is effort, competitiveness, personal improvement, or leadership. If you’re a more relaxed and family person, your strengths may be temperance, kindness, or calm.
We all have our own strengths, those that make us unique and that mediate our psychological well-being. Likewise, we can also enable ourselves in new ones to continue improving as people.
Learn more:Happiness: What Makes Us Happy?
Strengths are also learned: Move forward with them
Justice, curiosity, generosity, wisdom, humanity, social intelligence, civility, persistence… Once you shed light on your strengths, it’s time to continue growing. As Abraham Maslow pointed out, the ultimate goal of the human being is to achieve self-realization. In this process toward your well-being, always remember that you can develop new values.
It’s not enough to discover what skills define you, but you also have the opportunity to learn new ones to shape the best version of yourself: The you who doesn’t give up, who invests in your happiness and that of others, in order to move forward together.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Blankert, T., & Hamstra, M. R. W. (2017). Imagining success: Multiple achievement goals and the effectiveness of imagery. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 39(1), 60–67. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5351796/
- Buschor, C., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2013). Self-and peer-rated character strengths: How do they relate to satisfaction with life and orientations to happiness?. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(2), 116-127. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2012.758305
- Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2013). The application of signature character strengths and positive experiences at work. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(3), 965–983. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235746469_The_Application_of_Signature_Character_Strengths_and_Positive_Experiences_at_Work
- Littman-Ovadia, H., Dubreuil, P., Meyers, M. C., & Freidlin, P. (2021). Editorial: VIA character strengths: Theory, research and practice. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 653941. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.653941/full
- Seligman, M. & Peterson, C. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Oxford University Press: American Psychological Association.
- Vivir en flow. (2015). Cómo poner en práctica las fortalezas según Seligman. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0RD1kDa5wI