April 15, 2015

The Strength of Weakness.

Francisca Ulloa/Flickr

Is it useful to have weakness?

My first reaction to this question was to think: Absolutely not! Who wants weaknesses? I don’t. But then I started asking myself… Why not?

It’s all relative isn’t it?

We need weaknesses, in order to have strengths, don’t we? Rubbish, I thought at first. Surely it is possible to be good at everything?

But if we were equally good at everything we tried, then that level of ability would just be the norm. And, by default, we would all just be average at everything. without being bad at something, we wouldn’t know what it was to be good at something. So in order to recognise that we’re truly GREAT at something, we do also need to have things we’re not great at. Without weakness, we wouldn’t recognise strength.


Having a mixture of strengths and weaknesses also cultivates teamwork. We need to cooperate, because without one another we would not have all the tools we need in life. Or at the very least, working together makes life easier doesn’t it? Is it this sharing of strengths and weaknesses that binds us together? Is it a driving force behind our relationships with others? In friendships? In families? In work? In love? Maybe.


I’m not suggesting we just use each other though. We don’t just profit, out of greed, from other people’s strengths. We also respect someone when they are good at something we find hard. We like to observe someone winning a race. Or a prize. Or graduating from a course. And we celebrate their achievement all the more, when we recognise that what they’ve achieved, is something we might find hard ourselves.

If we had no weaknesses, then everything would seem easy. Would people still celebrate one another’s successes?

The person I am.

If I had no weaknesses, what sort of person would that make me seem? Detached? Aloof? Someone with no empathy? Someone with whom it is hard to connect?

We’ve all come across people like that before haven’t we? I once had a Maths teacher who just couldn’t understand why I could not get to grips with the basics of statistics. He was a mathematical genius. Lucky him. But maybe if he had experienced finding it hard, he’d have been able to show a bit more compassion, and would have been a better teacher for it.

It’s nice to feel needed.

Isn’t it true, that we often feel good when we can help someone else who is finding something difficult. We like it when our strength allows us to help someone, with something they consider to be their weakness. That’s when I feel like I can contribute best in a team. And in my relationship with my husband too. Because even he has occasional weaknesses, and I adore many of them as much as I adore his strengths. It makes me feel stronger when I can help him. It makes me feel stronger when I can help anyone.

Share and share alike.

And when I expose my own weaknesses, I give someone else the opportunity to demonstrate their strengths. Opening myself up and being vulnerable, allows someone else the satisfaction of helping me. And in that act of opening up, I must admit I still have a tendency to feel small and ashamed. But perhaps I should instead be feeling big and proud, because I am giving someone else the opportunity to feel strong.

Being human.

Sharing our strengths and our weaknesses. Isn’t that a beautiful thing we humans can do as humans? Isn’t that what makes us human in fact?

I’ll finish with one final thought. The strength of weakness.

People often ask: Is crying is a sign of weakness? (And they often conclude it isn’t.) But I now find myself wondering why weakness is such a dirty word anyway. Surely the real question should be: Why is weakness a sign of fault?

Because there’s beauty in vulnerability and imperfection. And by having the courage to display these very human traits, we show we have trust and faith in the people around us. And we allow them the freedom to put trust and faith in us.

As a result, we connect more closely and genuinely with others. We make it possible to be loved, just the way we are. And isn’t it this acceptance, and connection with others, that ultimately brings us the most happiness?

So, is it useful to have weakness?

Yes—a week after first being asked—I believe weakness is an essential ingredient of a happy and healthy life. Sometimes I feel weak. And sometimes I feel strong. And that’s ok. I’m going to embrace my weaknesses more from now on. In the knowledge that I do also have strengths. And in the knowledge that weakness is a strength.



Relephant Reads:

Weather the Storms: A Poem for Finding Strength. 


Author: Jane Prady

Editor: Renee Jahnke

Image: Francisca Ulloa-Flickr

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