Learning to manage your strengths is not just about doing certain things more often. Before we can do that it is necessary to make space in our life by identifying the things that take energy away from us and doing them less. While people like to take this concept on board with things they don’t like doing that much anyway, sometimes questions arise when tests such as the Realise2 strengths assessment state that ‘gratitude’ or ‘optimism’ is a learned behaviour and should therefore be performed less.
A learned behaviour is something that you are good at but that takes energy away from you, while you are doing it. But is it really a good idea to be less optimistic or less grateful? After all study after study indicates that gratitude and optimism are good for us. Why reduce those behaviours? The answer is that sometimes strengths need to be traded off against each other. Imagine you are at a café and the service was really bad. Normally when leaving you would say goodbye and thank you very much to the waiter. While this would be what manners dictate and what a grateful person would do notice how you would be dishonest: actually the dismal service made you feel bad so saying thank you would clash with authentically expressing your emotions. Freeing yourself from the obligation to express gratitude (which is not genuine gratitude anyway) could set some energy free.
So doing less, even if it is less of the good stuff, can sometimes help us be more authentic. That is likely to energise us and when we are energised, chances are, that we will eventually feel good and authentic gratitude or optimism might be experienced.