Discovering and using your strengths

Welcome to my blog!

For the next few weeks I will be blogging about strengths: What are they? How do we discover them? How do we use them?

Strengths are a big focus in positive psychology; we focus on building what is right with people rather than just trying to fix people’s weaknesses.

Those of you familiar with psychology may know of a book called the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual IV- affectionately known as the DSM-IV. This manual is used to diagnose or at the very least label all the things that can possibly be wrong with people.

Drs. Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman pointed out that psychologists now understand a great deal about what is wrong with people and very little to nothing about categorizing what is write with people. They took on what I consider the largest project in positive psychology’s history. They scientifically studied and identified character strengths and virtues that have been identified throughout history and multiple cultures. The published a voluptuous book called Character Strengths and Virtues and a handy-dandy (albeit lengthy) questionnaire for figuring your strengths out.

Before I spill the beans about where you can take the questionnaire to discover your strengths (for FREE!). Think about your strengths?

What are you naturally good at?

Now strengths are different from talents. You can be a talented singer or basketball player. Hitting high notes and dribbling balls are talents.

Being a leader, curious about the world, empathetic and supportive, those aren’t talents they are strengths.

A good way to figure out your strengths is to think about what you did in the past few days that made happy? Then begin to dig deeper and look for the strengths that you displayed there.

For example, I had a great coaching session with a client today that made me feel great. One of the reasons it felt so great was because I was using my strengths

Make a list of 5 things that you consider to be your strengths.

Then log onto, sign up real quick, and take the VIA Character Strengths questionnaire. Taking the complete version might take you 30 or so minutes. If you’d like, take the abridged version- The Brief Strengths Test, which is 24 questions and should take less then 5 minutes. There is also a children’s version.

Find out what some of your strengths are. Do these strengths match the list you created?

To delve deeper into the world of strengths check out this web site

In the next few blog posts I’ll look at each of Peterson and Seligman’s 24 Strengths. Then we’ll explore Gallup’s Strength Finder which is all about the use of strengths in careers and business.

Looking forward to hearing from you!



5 Responses to Discovering and using your strengths

  1. Hi Emiliya,

    I love your blog on strengths! Generosity must be one of your top strengths — you give so much great information in your blog and your newsletter. I always get tremendous value and learn things that are helpful.

    Thank you for sharing all of this with me!

  2. Jarna Parikh says:

    Hello Emiliya,

    The universe introduced me to you via Mar Doncel. Your newsletters constantly give me strenght on those days when I need it. Thank you so much I am very grateful to you.


  3. BE says:

    The internal creates the external (not visa versa).
    Self-efficacy enables the realization of possibilities and opportunities.
    These concepts seem to be universal truths.

  4. Emiliya says:

    Hi BE,
    The external influences the internal though. A belief is a thought that you’ve told yourself often. So if you are a student and failed a test once and jokingly said to yourself “I’m stupid.” And then didn’t do so well again and said “I’m stupid”. And continued in this pattern… Eventually you start to change the way you feel about yourself.

    Even though the self-efficacy may have internally been there at one point. Our internal response to the external can shift our internal reality.

    In my reality, I completely agree with you. That our internal creates our perception of the external. But it’s like a dance though. The two are constantly influencing and shifting one another.

    Thanks for responding,

  5. Hans Rippel says:

    I agree, it is time for a counter balance to the DSM. As you probably know James E. Maddux wrote a great piece called Stopping the “Madness” in the Handbook of Positive Psychology on the problems with the illness ideology that is promoted by the DSM.
    The Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) handbook by Peterson & Seligman opens doors to whole new worlds when compared to the traditional perceptions in the field. Unfortunately I haven’t yet read the whole book from cover to cover but I enjoyed all the chapters that I had a chance to read. On the other hand reading even parts of the DSM had a heavy quality to it.
    When I first took the VIA Strength questionair it was a wonderful concrete confirmation for me as a reminder of what I already knew my strengths were. I can only recommend everyone taking it.

    In response to BE’s post. “The internal creates the external (not visa versa).” Did you mean mentally or also physically/biologically?
    Our physical senses make it possible for us to perceive the external world and broadly speaking most people’s senses perceive similar information about the outside world. So I think that perception shapes our mental map of the world and then indirectly impacts the external word through our behaviors. But since there are many of us, we create/act and co-create/co-act social, cultural, and institutional norms. They shape us and we shape them in return. Or as Emiliya said “it’s like a dance” between our internal sense of reality and the “external world.”

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