How to Uncover Your Weaknesses

Identifying and addressing your weaknesses is as much a cornerstone of solid self-improvement as is identifying and expanding your strengths.

Ask yourself: what are my weaknesses? If you find yourself stumbling on that question, well, that is a weakness. Time to work on that.

A helpful way that I have used to uncover my own weaknesses is to look for them hiding behind my own strengths. I’m the kind of person that would find it easier to rattle off a list of my strengths that my weaknesses, and I can use that to my advantage.

Our strengths are often formed in the crucible of discord, and so they are tinged. The things that I feel strongly about are also those things that I most sensitive about. That sensitivity has me favor situations and arguments that support my advocacy and fail to fully consider details that might weaken my own position. I include myself in the list of smart people I know that have made unfounded statements in defense of things they feel strongly about:

  • Politics
  • Gender Issues
  • Gun Rights
  • Spirituality/Religion
  • Compassion
  • Scientific thinking (particularly in regards to non-local consciousness, e.g. ESP)

Knowing the relationship of strengths to weaknesses, you can find your weaknesses through your strengths. Ask yourself: what do I feel strongly about? Then ask yourself: where am I wrong about it? Unless you are omniscient, that second question should bear fruit. It is a tough question, and for me, I must sit on it for a while, sometimes even months or years. Knowing that passion muddies thinking, we can find areas where our judgment gets clouded by passion.

Keeping this in mind helps us spot weaknesses in others too. For instance, websites that hold one position strongly—unless they add a courageous dose of introspection and self-questioning— exhibit this clouded judgment. Visit them regularly and you are just reinforcing your own compromised thinking. A liberal might have a hard time understanding the weaknesses of liberalism (ditto conservatives!). A feminist might have a hard time explaining the strengths of honoring gender differences. A gun rights advocate might not have a clear picture of the downside of guns. Each of these positions becomes strengthened when they acknowledge and examine to their blind spot.

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