“My weaknesses have always been food and men, in that order.”—Dolly Parton
“Once we know our weaknesses, they cease to do us any harm.”—Georg C. Lichtenberg
I was asked by my therapist to spend an entire week focusing on my weaknesses as a person. This wasn’t an activity designed to bring me down but instead a way to become aware of those areas of my life that do me more harm than good. The idea of the exercise was to help me realize my weaknesses and either set goals to improve or just accept them. At the very least, I’m aware of those areas in my life. My therapist also told me that I shouldn’t treat this exercise as if I’d received this question in a job interview. No BS, in other words. And it’s important to note that a weakness, as defined here, is different than a vice—the latter being a nasty habit (alcohol, smoking, etc.) while the former is more of a character fault than anything, a deep personality flaw that can be remedied or accepted. Here’s what I came up with as my five biggest weaknesses. Feel free to do the same in the comments section below.
It’s a possibility that I’ve inherited a nasty weakness from my father’s side of the family. They do nothing but worry about everything. The weather is always changing, and that side of my family is worried about it constantly. There’s never time to live because there’s always something else to worry about. Lately, I’ve found my mind is either lost in the past or busy building complex stories of how my future self will be a failure. I worry about money, jobs, relationships, friendships, health, hockey—it never ends. But it’s also true that, although I might not be worrying any less than before, I can now catch myself worrying and correct that mental behavior. I’m getting nothing accomplished by inventing stories in my head. Instead, I need to focus on the present and not worry so much about where it will take me. Worrying in the present only leads to more worry in the future because you haven’t done anything but worry. It’s impossible for me to make a necessary decision because I haven’t spent quality time evaluating it. That time was spent worrying instead. I need to fix this.
I would consider myself an “introverted extrovert,” as ridiculous as that sounds. If a situation requires me to be outgoing and involved, I’ll be more than happy to put up a good front. The reality is that I would much rather be alone (or with a small group) than mingling with a large contingency of strangers. I am very good at networking, but I’m also not sure I enjoy it. Part of my problem is that I have a deep character weakness of judging people. For Christians, this is the ultimate sin (judge not, lest ye be judged), but for the rest of us, it’s just an ugly way to exist. Primarily, through the help of my therapist and meditation, I’m now able to catch myself in these emotional states. Sometimes, I’ll even laugh out loud when I realize how judgmental I’m being. Unfortunately, most of those recognitions come long after the fact. I’m a firm believer in having no preconceptions in any personal situation. I want to have the attitude that “I know nothing and anything is possible.” That isn’t possible with judgment.
I believe I can do anything I want to do, but I don’t have the confidence to pursue it. It reminds me of that quote by Big Bird, I believe: “Stupid isn’t a lack of intelligence; stupid is having intelligence and doing nothing with it.” I can completely empathize with that quote because I’m living it on a daily basis. I know I’m intelligent in certain areas of my life, yet I find myself wandering around without goals or any idea what the hell I’m doing with my life. In conversation with some acquaintances a few weeks ago, I shared much of the same sentiment. What can I be passionate about without giving a second thought? This is the major question of my life right now. My weakness to have any faith in myself to do things I know I can do is holding me back.
I’ve tried a lot of different jobs over the past few years, have read a lot of “spiritual” books and essentially just started working on myself as a person. One of my major weaknesses is that I will walk away from something at the first sign of trouble. Before I started this effort to work on myself, I would slog through a lot of unnecessary headaches for no real reason. Now, it’s the exact opposite. If something isn’t working out, I’ll just let it go and remove myself from the situation. I feel like there’s a happy medium there somewhere that I’m missing out on. Life is too short to do something you hate doing.
I have a difficult time trusting people. This is a direct response to my childhood and growing up with an alcoholic father. I usually don’t talk about these things in my column, but I need to be honest. From an early age, I learned that nobody was to be trusted and that even if something terrible happened you’re supposed to laugh about it. There were so many instances of broken promises as a child that I grew up never expecting much from anybody in the world. The period of my life between ages 10 and 16 was difficult. My family moved five times. I attended six different schools. The only way I learned to survive was to be the “funny” one. But I certainly didn’t trust anybody to do anything for me. Even today, I’ll find myself questioning the motives of people for no reason other than the fact that my guard is never down. The ability to trust might be my biggest weakness to overcome.