For those of us who regularly beat ourselves up for our flaws, I have news:
Hidden in every flaw is a precious gem – a piece of self-knowledge that can lead to transforming that apparent defect into a personal advantage
Flaws are just aspects of our characters that have been exaggerated to help us cope with difficulties in life. For example, worry and anxiety were ways for me to anticipate problems and potential solutions in a chaotic and unpredictable home life, offering at least the illusion of security when there was none. But worry and anxiety are just extreme versions of awareness, which can be a positive characteristic.
Here’s a simple diagram of the spectrum of the characteristic of awareness:
Where your flaw is on an extreme end of the spectrum, look for ways to bring it back into balance. That’s where the magic of transformation comes in.
Learn to Practice Alchemy
These steps may help bring your flaws into balance – and transform them into priceless treasures.
1. Name the rock – your flaw
As with all personal development, the first task is to recognize the problem. If you can, place it on a spectrum to see where the positive aspects of the characteristic and determine where you might rather the balance be. Here are more examples of characteristic spectrums – the flaw could fall on either end of the extremes:
Often, our bad behavior is driven by good intentions, usually for self-protection. Before we can change the recipe, we first need to identify the ingredients.
If I pick apart the components of my anxiety, I pull out: awareness of myself, awareness of others, alertness to circumstances and the environment, desire for safety, lack of control over outcomes, and fear that I won’t be prepared to handle those outcomes.
3. Change the mix to bring it into balance
Like a good alchemist, we must learn to mix our potion for optimal results. Some of the elements we keep and some we throw away. Most important is the secret ingredient – that which triggers the magical transformation.
In my case, letting go of anxiety about the future is impossible until I find that secret ingredient. It came to me last week: I don’t have to imagine every possible outcome in order to be safe – instead, I can stay in my present, mindful awareness because I know (through experience) that I will get the information I need when I need it. Since imagining every possibility never gave me peace anyway, it is a huge relief to trust balanced awareness.
4. Watch the rock turn to gold
When we find the secret ingredient of personal development and re-mix our potion, it’s like watching a chemical reaction. Suddenly, the extreme behavior is much easier to release, even when it still comes up. We have another way to think and respond to the triggers that normally send us down the path of our negative behavior.
Best of all, we don’t have to reject or beat up on the part of ourselves that went to extremes. We can honor that characteristic as helping us to cope when we needed it, and let it go in favor of more viable and productive behavior.
How have you transformed negative behaviors into productive assets?