For years I have learned about different personality tests that have given me a better understanding of my strengths. One of those is called Strengths Finder by Gallup. And so, my five top strengths came up to be: learner, intellection, connectedness, input and responsibility. It makes sense to me. All of my life I have been an above average student. I enjoy reading. I also seek ways where people’s strengths can work together for a better outcome. I try to be responsible with the work assigned to me. The point being is that we thrive when we focus on our strengths and work to develop them. We will be more productive and we will enjoy what we do at the same time.
However, I have come to know through experience the downside of an exclusive reliance on one’s strengths to the point of neglecting other areas of our lives. And this can be a problem. According to Myers Briggs terminology, the inferior function of our personality will erupt because of the overuse and exclusive reliance upon the dominant functions of our personality.
These “Jekyll and Hyde” episodes, even though destructive in themselves, can provide valuable information to achieve what Jung called individuation, the process that leads to the integration of the psyche. In the meantime, we may find many times that we are out of balance. Our minds get cluttered, blurred. Then, even when we know what the right course of action is, we do not really want to follow it. Other times, when we want to follow the right course of action, we find ourselves unmotivated to act. We also find other things more attractive or we find the achievement of noble goals too difficult to fight for.
The point being is that all of us have an inner drive to seek that balance in our lives. We perceive it as a good for us and for others. We contemplate its beauty. However, we have four fundamental weaknesses. First, reason is obscured. We cannot perceive with prudence what we should do or not do in specific situations. Second, the will is hardened. Even when we see what is the right course of action is, we may not want to follow it. Third, good actions become more difficult. Finally, the drive towards self-gratification can become very strong. We become attached, even addicted, to our own desires.
We are so fragile as we come into this world, that we are susceptible to strong or mild traumatic events during our early years. Unhealthy styles of attachment could have long lasting consequences. As we can see, even though we are fundamentally good, even when we have this inner drive towards balance and have a sense of good will towards others, we are fundamentally weak as well. This weakness is what in theological terms we call the wounds of nature consequent upon sin. These weakness is transmitted from generation to generation as part of our human condition.
We have studied in the last three insights the enemies of our spiritual progress. The first one has to do with our social nature: the negative influence from a vicious environment. The second one has to do with the devil and his demons who seek to induce us to sin. Finally, we review the weakness of our human condition to seek good. Traditionally we have called them, the world, the devil and the flesh. In our next weekly insights we will turn to how we should fight these enemies.
Questions for pondering:
- Do you notice a lack of balance in your life? What are the manifestations of that lack of balance?
- Have you found yourself making resolutions just to break them once and again?
- Have you come to the realization that human effort alone cannot achieve this balance? Do you sense the need for God?
Fr Lino Otero, LC: Originally from Nicaragua, my family moved to Miami, Florida when I was a teenager. Soon afterwards I experienced the call to serve God without reservations. Since then, I have had experience in hospital ministry, working as a middle school teacher, leading a parish school, organizing soccer tournaments for kids, starting a radio station, training priests in leadership formation, organizing a parish community from maintenance to mission, and much more. I love spiritual direction and preaching. Years of philosophy, psychology and theological training have enriched my personal life and have shaped my message of hope. For more go to linootero.me