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  • Kirsti Gwynn

This is How Positive Psychology's "Strength-Based" Approach Makes Change Easier


One of the things that drew me to practice Positive Psychology is the strength-based approach.


Most therapies and coaching styles focus on developing areas of weakness.


But Positive Psychology is different.


Positive Psychology begins with your strengths, considering what comes naturally to you, and how we can leverage these abilities to overcome challenges.

This approach is more joyful, more empowering, more hopeful - and it feels easier. Here are some examples:

  • Charlene is a freelancer with a desire to grow her business. Her work requires that she pitch herself for various contracts, but whenever she is unsuccessful in landing a contract, she finds herself paralysed by shame and self-doubt. When we take a look at Charlene’s strengths, it’s clear that she loves to learn. She’s always signing up for online courses and reading personal development books. She finds learning something new to be empowering. We decide to leverage Charlene’s love of learning to help her overcome her struggles with rejection by creating a ‘learning journal’. Whenever Charlene receives a rejection, she taps into her love of learning by reflecting on what she has learned from this experience and how the knowledge gained could empower her to achieve more in future. This shifts her experience of rejection - now, it feels like an experience of growth instead of "not good enough".


  • Joe works in a high-pressure environment. Sometimes it feels like everything is going wrong at once, and in these cases, Joe finds himself feeling intensely frustrated and overwhelmed - which only makes things worse. But here’s Joe’s strength: he’s a naturally funny guy. He’s always joking around with friends and making people laugh. There’s an opportunity here for Joe to tap into his strength of humour when things are going wrong. He decides to take a moment to step back and view the situation as if it were a sitcom. This comedic view means he finds he’s less affected by the situation, and his pausing to make a joke cuts the tension with his colleagues. This lightens the mood and makes it easier for everyone to retain a sense of perspective as they manage the situation.


  • Emily finds herself always putting everyone else first. She struggles to set boundaries or get her own needs met in relationships, and it’s taking a toll. Emily’s strength is fairness: it’s natural for her to consider other people’s point of view and she really cares about being fair. In considering how she could use this strength to value herself more, it strikes her that the definition of fairness is a balance of needs. Keeping this in mind, Emily finds she is able to take into account not just the other person's needs, but her own needs, too. This allows her to set better boundaries. She feels less resentful and more in alignment with who she really is.

Change is hard enough, friend. Why not use your natural strengths to launch yourself forward? I’d love to hear from you in the comments:

  • What way of being feels natural to you?

  • Can you use this to overcome a challenge you’re facing?

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