Personality is an interesting subject, and not a topic I wanted to cover until I had thoroughly done my research. After-all, even just the word 'personality' means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Our personality actually plays a huge part in how we perceive the world and how the world perceives us so I think it is an important subject to cover.
This site is all about living the life you want to live and being who you want to be and I think it's safe to say that we each view someone's personality as a large part of what makes them who they are. With that in mind, let's look at how you can change yours for your own benefit.
What is Our Personality?
I searched around for some definitions of this term and I have to say that my favourite is rather basic: “A set of qualities that make a person distinct from another”. Nice, simple, to the point and the exact definition that I've come to think the word means through my 19 years of existence.
On top of that statement, I, like many others, believe that our personality includes our beliefs and values so this is the understanding of the word I'm going to use here. Feel free to substitute your own definition and still go through the process towards the middle of this post.
How It Is Formed
Your current personality, whatever it may be, has been formed in a number of ways. Psychologists have studied human personalities for years and have come to a number of conclusions. First of all, it is believed that certain traits in our character are hereditary, yet things like our values and beliefs are derived from socialization and unique experiences, mostly from childhood.
Based on that statement, it's likely that the personality of you and anyone you know is based on:
- Social experiences (especially from childhood)
- Unique experiences that you have had in your lifetime
- The environment in which you grew up and how you had to act
While most of this might seem obvious, there is some strong research which suggests that a lot of our current personality is in-fact, genetic. As an example, researchers from the University of Minnesota studied 8,000 twins who had been separated shortly after birth and reunited later in life for whatever reason. They found that even though one of the twins may have lived a completely different live in a different environment, their behaviours were still almost identical.
I don't think I like the idea that our personality and specifically our behaviours are largely proven to be based around our genetic make-up. That being said, I still believe it is entirely possible to change your personality and literally be whoever you want to be.
Designing your Own Personality
Before continuing with the following steps on designing your own personality, spend a few minutes thinking of the personalities of people in your life. I have some close friends that I know whenever I see them they will cheer me up because they are happy and very positive. On the other hand, I also have friends that are close, but I can always predict how they will react in certain situations and it is usually in a negative manner.
I think all of you can relate to my situation of having friends who you love to be around and other friends who you do care about, but make you feel 'drained' when you spend time with them.
The whole point of this post and personality development in general is to develop the characteristics you want to have rather than the ones you've been conditioned with.
Following are four steps that I have personally used in the past month to help bring about a change in my own personality that have allowed me to literally be the type of person I want to be. If you are just a skim reader, do not take any advice in this post. The sections in bold need their descriptions to be read in order to have this process result in the kind of personality that you want.
1. Be Honest With Your Current Traits
How would you describe yourself right now? Personally I think I have quite a split personality. At times I can be quiet, I keep myself to myself and I'm very considerate towards the feelings of others. At other times, I can be quite crazy, highly outgoing and literally oblivious to what people think and I don't really care.
It's important that you are honest with your current traits so you can decide what you want to change. The position I would like to take my life requires me to be considerate to others so I wouldn't change that, but I also want to have other characteristics which don't necessarily compliment being considerate.
If you've just spent the last few days in a negative spiral, cursing everything and thinking the world owes you a favour, then don't define yourself as someone who is happy and positive all the time. You may be happy and positive some of the time, but you should be aware of the traits you aren't so proud of as well as the ones that you are. Honest self-assessment is key to this step of the process.
2. Define the Qualities You Want to Have
Because this is all about you being who you want to be, it's time to pick the qualities that you want to have. I have to stress that is important that you do not go overboard on this part of the process and pick tons of qualities that you desire. It is far easier to focus on around 5 core qualities you would like to have at a time rather than a list of 20 or more.
Some of the qualities that I picked for myself were:
- Fun / Good sense of humour
It is important you pick qualities that you want to have, rather than qualities you think people want you to have. I put honest and trustworthy on my list because they matter to me personally, but I also put positive because life is a toss-up between that and negative. Most people will say they want to be positive yet they unconsciously love drama in their lives, so really think about this before making your list.
3. Visualise Yourself for 21 Days with These Qualities
The 21-day format has been without a doubt the most amazing thing I have came across in my life. I like to think that I semi-invented this idea because even though it is featured in the book 'Psycho Cybernetics' by Maxwell Maltz, I can't find any evidence online of someone who had put a plan in place for this and implemented it (so I did).
This third part of the process will involve you visualising yourself in any situation having the qualities that you want to have. There are a few things to remember during visualisations and the 21-day challenge:
- You must do this for 21 days without missing a day
- You need to visualise yourself being how you want to be in terms of the end result, not the process
- Your visualisations need to be as real as possible – notice smells, colours, small details and sounds from your imagined environment
To give an example, If I want the quality of positivity to become natural, then each day I must spend a couple of minutes visualising myself being positive. For example I might visualise myself, as vividly as possible, being positive after an event that most people would struggle to remain happy about. I am aware of the fact that this idea will sound very silly if you have never tried it before.
However, it is scientifically proven that our nervous system can not tell the difference between a real event and one that is vividly imagined. The 21 days that you will do this process for is enough time for new connections and pathways to form in your brain, thus 'imprinting' your desired result – sort of like a habitual auto-response.
4. Act as If They Are Present
This is quite self explanatory, but in everyday life see if you can act as if your desired qualities are already present. If you want to be positive then be positive, if you wish to be honest then start implementing that in your life. This will get much, much easier as you get closer to the end of the 21 day challenge and this starts to become habitual.
For those of you who do take this challenge I would love for you to come back in around three weeks and let me know how you get on. To everyone else, I would love your thoughts of the idea in general and what your thoughts are on changing our personalities.