Using Your Character Strengths to Navigate Stress

“Be grateful when there’s something in your life to be nervous about. It means you still care.” – Todd Henry

There are always two sides to anything in life. And this goes for stress as well. A decent amount of stress is necessary for life. It gives you the drive and pushes you to reach your potential. We don’t want to get complacent when trying to achieve our goals. Your stress means you care deeply about your work and want to improve. The key is being aware of how you feel towards the stressors. Confident nervousness about an upcoming presentation, for example, is healthy. It keeps you sharp and leaning forward, pushing you to new heights. Insecure nervousness is destructive. It keeps you fuzzy and pulls you back, protecting you in your comfort zone.

Many of us get bogged down by insecure nervousness as that’s the nature of our mind, to keep us safe. To rewire our brains and make a positive shift, it is worth exploring our character strengths to help navigate stress. 

So, what are Character Strengths?

According to positive psychology, character strengths are the positive parts of your personality that impact how you think, feel and behave. These strengths differ from your other personal strengths, such as your unique skills, talents, interests and resources. Character strengths reflect the real you—who you are at your core. 

Dr. Martin Seligman was the first to identify 24 character strengths and created the Values in Action (VIA) Institute on Characters. He identified the positive character strengths that all people have in varying degrees. 

By nature, your top strengths are energising for you to use. Not only does it feel good, but it’s also how you uniquely add value to the world and those around you. To determine your character strengths, you may take the free personality survey from the VIA website or go back to your intentions and values.

Stress and Character Strengths

Knowing your strengths helps you thrive when you work on your goals and counter stress. It gets you out of the rut of just going through the daily motions of getting things done. Actively using your strengths when you feel stressed rewires your brain to look for solutions. This helps you calmly approach your situation and chunk bigger tasks into action steps to improve the situation. Don’t underestimate these tiny tweaks. They matter. 

The stress you are experiencing also means respect for yourself and the people in your life. You want to become a better version of yourself, but striving to be that can be tiring and stressful. So it’s a good idea to get to know your strengths and utilise them as much as you can.

If one of your values was growth, your character strengths might be Curiosity and Love of learning. These two strengths are central to our pursuit of knowledge, ideas and new skills. Perseverance and Bravery can also be your strengths. Growth takes time, and there are bound to be challenges and risks that you have to take.

My Character Strengths

My top five character strengths are Gratitude, Humility, Forgiveness, Love of Learning and Kindness.

When I face an obstacle, I try my best to remind myself that there are lessons to be learned in every situation. I am grateful for having the chance to gain a new perspective and learn something new. Things may or may not work out, but all efforts count. Missteps are feedback for me to do better next time.

So ask yourself: What are some ways you can maximise your strengths? 

Whatever the outcome, choosing to focus on your strengths will allow you to be more efficient and effective and also leave you feeling more authentic. I help my clients to rediscover their character strengths so that they feel empowered to face challenges. Find out more about how you can work with me.


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