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How to Cope With a Personal Weakness

Do you have a poor memory? A lousy sense of humor? Attention Deficit? A learning disability?

If you have one of these challenges in life or some other challenge, you are not alone. Every single person alive has his or her own pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Even the most brilliant genius has some gaps and intellectual challenges.

The strongest people are the ones who know full well what their weaknesses are and accept them.

The weakest people are the ones who think they shouldn’t have any weaknesses. Denying that we have a weakness gives that weakness more power.

The irony is that our weaknesses don’t have to weaken us at all. One of my patients recently, in an ‘aha’ moment for herself during a therapy session, said it better than I could:

“If I have a missing leg and I refuse to accept that it’s really missing, I’ll continually attempt activities that are inappropriate for me and beyond my reach. I’ll try to walk farther and faster than is possible, and I will continually feel like a failure. On the other hand, if I acknowledge my missing leg as the hard reality that it is, I can then work with it. I can get an artificial leg, physical therapy, or do whatever it takes to manage and make up for it. I can attempt activities that are appropriate for me and feel a sense of accomplishment and of overcoming adversity.”

My patient used a concrete physical challenge to illustrate an abstract principle. But the principle applies to all sorts of weaknesses, like for example an Executive Function problem, ADD, a physical disability, or a lack of experience at a job.

Five Tips for Turning Your Weakness Into a Strength

  1. Write your weakness on a piece of paper. Simply writing it down purposefully is a way of acknowledging and owning your personal challenge.
  2. Next to it, write any ideas you might have for making an improvement in this area. Keep in mind that not all weaknesses can be improved.
  3. Now write ways in which you can work around your weakness. Keep in mind that there is always a way to work around any area of weakness.
  4. Make a decision to stop trying to hide your weakness. Talk about it. Own it. Or even make jokes about it. You will find that it loses its power when it is no longer secret or shameful.
  5. Take note of your strengths. Remember that you are more than just your weakness. You are the full picture of a human being, a pattern of plusses and minuses, just like everyone else. You are not defined by your weakness.

Stop hiding your weakness. Acknowledge it, address it, own it and share it. And this will make you stronger.

If knowing what you feel and why and expressing your feelings are weaknesses for you, visit and the book, Running on Empty.

Photo by Brettonium

How to Cope With a Personal Weakness

Jonice Webb PhD

Jonice Webb, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist who is recognized worldwide for her groundbreaking work in defining, describing, and calling attention to Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). She writes, speaks, and trains therapists on the topic, and is the bestselling author of two books, Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect and Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships. She also created and runs the Fuel Up For Life Online CEN Recovery Program. Since CEN can be difficult to see and remember, Dr. Webb created the CEN Questionnaire and other free resources to help you figure out if you have it. Take the CEN Questionnaire and learn much more about CEN, how it happens, and how to heal it at her website

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APA Reference
Webb PhD, J. (2016). How to Cope With a Personal Weakness. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Jul 2016
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