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Our Strengths can trigger strong emotions


The strong emotional triggers that come as a result of our unmet needs are differing and unique in each of us, depending on your combination of innate talent patterns and Strengths.


All Strengths have needs and within each of the 34 ‘Talent Patterns’ these needs are unique and different. Recognising your needs and the associated strong emotions that are triggered is one step on the path of creating internal interdependence for yourself and living a balanced life.


A Strength is only a Strength when this is an energy asset for self and others. However, two thirds of weaknesses are misapplied Strengths. This is why it is important to recognise we all have been gifted with Strengths and Talents Patterns and how each of these have differing needs and contributions.

Four types of Dependencies


Simply put, we all fluctuate between feelings of dependency, where we possibly wait for others to tell us how we can contribute and ‘bring’ our Strengths; Independence, where we march off in an effort to fulfil our own needs saying to ourselves that “we don’t require anyone’s help”; and co-dependence, where we find ourselves gossiping with others in an effort to seek people to commiserate regarding what is going on for us.


However, 'Interdependence' is the key to a healthier world. This is where everyone is able to have their needs met and contribute effectively in any given situation or role. If you would like to learn more about how to live an Interdependent life and bring your Strengths with effective Contribution for self and others you can book a complimentary 15 minute session here.

Having our needs met in any one of these three negative ‘dependencies’, can pull us into toxicity, and as a consequence, our actions have far reaching implications and impact on ourselves and others.

However, choosing Interdependence is the idea of becoming consciously aware of what is going on for you, recognising and feeling the emotion, and intentionally choosing to respond, as apposed to react, creating a win/win for self and others.

However we first need to accept that our Strengths have thoughts, feelings and behaviours. What we think becomes our world view, our interpretation (wrong or right) of what we think is going on. This can then trigger our emotions and thus impact how we choose to react or respond affecting our behaviours.


Misunderstandings can ruin relationships so it is imperative to seek clarification. This calls for ‘confident vulnerability’ - humbling ourselves to ask questions, sometimes even calling on ourselves to be brave because not everyone is comfortable dealing with perceived conflict.

The Strength of Harmony, for instance, wants to keep the peace. Command expects others to challenge them. Empathy assumes people will understand how they feel. Includer needs to be included and deep emotion can be trigger when they or others are excluded. These are just four examples of how Strengths differ in terms of their expectations and needs.


Whether we meet our needs negatively or positively, our needs remain regardless


If our needs cannot be met in a positive way, we will find other ways to meet our needs, because our needs remain regardless. What I have notice in my coaching, for instance, is that people with 'Emotional Relationship Building' Strengths have a need for trust, a safe space to express their emotions and deep emotional connection with others, especially loved ones. As an example, a negative way to meet these needs might be engaging in conflict through arguments and fighting or by having an affair. This way emotion is expressed and needs are met, even if in a negative way. Fortunately, for many of us, our values and beliefs can be expressed as a way of preventing such negativity.


Our triggered emotions are a sign our unmet needs, a tell-take nudge that we want to contribute effectively to the world, but cannot

When our needs are met, we can create exceptional contributions. This is when we “are in the zone”. Our energy is optimised, we get to be more of who we naturally are and bring our best selves to situations.

What can we learn from hightened negative emotions?


When we are triggered we can first ask ourselves which of our Strengths or combination of Strengths have unmet needs? Remember the 34 Strengths are split into four domains namely:

  • Strategic Thinking and Executing - which fall into the Task Axis

  • Influencing and Emotional Relationship Building - which fall into the Relationship Building Axis.

Depending on your compliment of Strengths you may ask:


Are my 'emotional relationship building' needs going unmet?

  • Do I need my emotional cup refilled through love, relationship and emotional connection?


Are my Influencing needs going unmet?

  • Do I need to be verbally validated and/or seen and recognised for my contributions?

Are my Strategic Thinking needs going unmet?

  • Do I need time alone to process my thoughts, or to be listened to and have time to explore my thoughts with others?


Are my executing needs going unmet?

  • Am I being held back from using my executing Strengths to get things done, achieve my goals or provide a structure for the way forward?

There are many more contributions and needs. If you would like to know more about the needs and contributions of each Strength you can contact us here.

Some clarifying 'self questioning' might include:

  • Am I in the correct role and environment that allows me to bring the best of myself?

  • Are my family and colleagues aware of my Strengths? If not, is it time to schedule some time to discuss this important topic.

  • Do I feel guilt, for instance? Could this be a sign I want to tell someone i'm sorry?

  • Do I have too high expectations of my loved ones and/or colleagues?

  • Anger may be an indication we cannot contribute interdependently. Maybe someone has crossed our personal boundaries. Maybe I am prevented from expressing my talents and Strengths.

  • Do I feel let down? What then, are my expectations of others?

  • Do I feel other's expectations of me too high?

  • Do I need to practice confident vulnerability more regularly by asking people for the things I need?

Getting stuck in the 'Circle of Toxic Dependencies' is debilitating. However, recognising where we are at is the start of a journey of understanding self, and what actions are required to move ourselves to Interdependence is a great step forward.


We have to remember our Strengths create a lens which colour how we uniquely view the world, better known as our 'world views'. To understand our world views is to learn as much as we can about our Strengths and Talent Patterns and how these impact our values and beliefs.


We each have a right to the freedom of expression of our unique contributions. Understanding your unique Talents Patterns and Strengths is an imperative first step in understanding your unique needs and how to manage them.

You can read more here on “What is a Strength and how can you uncover yours?” or follow the link to 34 Clues to 'Guess your Strengths'.


The focus is on bringing Strengths through 'Interdependence' as the key to a healthier relationships with self and others - and in turn, creating a healthier world.



Sam McDonald has been married for twenty-seven years and has four children. Their home is in Hampton, UK and Camps-Bay in South Africa. She is a Futurist and Chief Visionary Officer for WITH - Global Change Institute (www.with.org.za) with a dream to "Unlock the IntrinsicIdentity​©  of all Individuals in service of a greater humanity".


She is a Normative Visionary, Systems Thinker, Disruptor, Change Agent, Activist - With a PG-Dip in Futures Studies from the University of Stellenbosch, influencing thinking in order to create futures led enquiry & change towards a future we all want to be part of - linking strategic leadership and management with futures thinking using Interdependent Rules of Engagement© and the StrengthsFinder© Assessment as tools of choice to help people understand each other's unique world views which are coloured by their Strengths Language.


She moved to South Africa in 1983 from Nottingham in the UK and works globally living between both countries utilising online technology and offers in-person workshops with teams of qualified Strength Coaches.


She works with motivated clients using the Strengthsfinder® assessment as a power tool for: 


  • Strength Based Interviewing & Recruitment

  • Assisting motivated individuals to fall in love with their careers and find the work they were born to do.

  • Working with high achievers to discover their value and purpose

  • Working with Start-ups to gain momentum, motivation & self-awareness of the Entrepreneur

  • Assisting Students to gain a greater self-awareness, expediting their career path, building confidence and self-esteem. 

  • Working with individuals to re-engage in their work environments & leveraging their strengths

  • Working with marriage relationships to help you love again and understand the toxicity, reduce negative experiences, create understanding and, in turn, assist with long-term strategies for lasting transformation

  • Finding your true Purpose, Passion and Value in Life

  • Falling in love with your life and work again

  • She teaches the 'Interdependent Rules of Engagement©  & Vulnerability' to focus on living 'Interdependence' as the key to healthier environments - choosing this as 'rules of engagement' over 'Dependence', 'Co-Dependence' & 'Independence'.

Follow the link if you would like to engage in Coaching through your Strengths and take the Strengths Assessment.

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