Identifying Your Strengths

Often when we talk about mental health we hear about illness versus wellness. Mental health is more like a spectrum, from illness all the way to wellness. Your own strengths can help you on the journey to wellness. 

Photo by RL Johnson

What are strengths?
Strengths are what help people cope with adversity and find fulfillment in life, and can be your talents, knowledge, or skills. Strengths build on each other, so by having one strength you can build another. Read more about strengths here.

Why identify my strengths?
A strengths-based approach states that everyone has the inherent abilities to take control of their own lives. Sometimes, we may feel like all we have are problems and weaknesses. Identifying your strengths can help you to perceive your own set of strengths and use them in your life. Often when people come from an angle of looking at strengths, they experience better success in recovery. 

How do you identify strengths?
There are many different kinds of strengths that you can have. Below we've added some starting questions you can ask yourself. For each category, try to think about 2-3 strengths that are important for you. 

Personal strengths
Identify your own personal strengths. These can include your hobbies, your dreams, your values, or your personal attributes (e.g., having a sense of humour).

  • What do you like most about yourself? 
  • What are you most proud of accomplishing in your life? 
  • Is there anything about your ability to help you cope with the problem you have? 
  • What strengths do you have? 
  • What do you still want to accomplish?

Social strengths 
Think about your social supports (e.g., relationships, family, and friends). 

  • Who do you consider family?
  • Who can you rely on? 
  • Who helps you out when you are stressed? 
  • Who do you trust? 

Good times
Giving yourself opportunities to recall your good moments can help you to feel positive and motivated. 

  • What was a time that you felt most things were going well? 
  • What were you doing to make things go well? 
  • If you were to revisit the best time in your life, when would it be? 

Coping skills
Strengths with coping describe how you deal with adversity and the challenges in your life. 

  • How have you managed to overcome adversity? 
  • What adversity in your life has made you stronger? 
  • How did you manage to become stronger because of this adversity?
  • What did you learn about yourself by getting over this adversity? 

Spiritual strengths
We don't have to be religious to be spiritual — spirituality includes religion but also means how you think about growth, meaning, and purpose in your life. 

  • Do you consider your spirituality a strength? 
  • How have spiritual practices shaped your life? 
  • How would you describe your current spiritual or religious orientation. 

Cultural strengths
Often we overlook the strengths of the groups to which we belong. 

  • What cultural practices do I adhere to? 
  • What cultural experiences are important to me? 

Positive settings
Positive settings are areas where you feel like you are safe and where you can grow. They are areas both formal and informal where people come together and connect, like a community centre, library, school, park, or coffee shop. Identify different areas that you think of positive settings. You can create an "asset map" by taking a map of your neighbourhood or city and mark the positive areas to remind you where these places are.  

Adapted from the Tool Kit for Strength-Based Assessment from VCH Youth Services 

How helpful was this to you: 
Average: 4 (5 votes)