Changing your personality is thought to be impossible by some people. I realized at a young age that this belief really wasn’t a valid truism – and it sure wasn’t obvious to me. I had noticed by the time I was 18 that my personality changed with time in certain ways. Yes, even my temperament has changed dramatically from age 18.
I’ve come to understand that with focused intention and with centered, intentional mindfulness – and with understanding how my brain operates – I can change parts of my personality that really need to evolve if I wish to attain my greater potential. Thank goodness we can actually change our personality! Why is this so important? It’s critical if we hope to change our personal reality.
You see reality is not objective; it is subjective. It is created by your perceptions, your interpretations and the meaning that you assign to what happened to you.
We know from neuroscience that people ‘assign meaning’. People see things differently. A given circumstance can destroy one person, while another seems to just bounce back with resilience. Perception is the way you see events, circumstances, even people. We make valuations and judgments based on our attitudes, beliefs and social conditioning. All of these things go into forming our personality.
Once we believe that how we see the world is ‘just the way it is’ or that we are’ just the way we are’ our brain will continue to only search out and notice events and circumstances that align with our current mental models, for the most part. In fact, some people’s perceptual filters are so stagnated and stuck that even in the face of blatant contradictory information they will still ignore the evidence that their five senses are showing them. They will even go as far as to twist the evidence to make it conform to their belief or outright deny or ignore it. In fact, literally they may not even see these contradictions that are right before their eyes! Our brain has the capacity to create these types of ‘blind spots’ if we are not self-aware or paying attention. If you are dogmatic that you cannot change, guess what? Your brain will support this belief also and support this ‘reality’! The good news is that we can change our beliefs; they are not written in stone.
It’s likely that I have an easier time of addressing parts of my personality and changing them because I believe I can do it and have actually done it. There is also plenty of evidence these days from neuroscience that also supports this ability. You see within the word personality is the word persona which means, ‘mask’. These personas are parts of our personality. Our personality is a type of mask that we wear that plays out on the stage of life who we, ‘think we are’. Our brain actually creates this autobiographical memory narrative that constructs our personality and perceptions about who we think we are! As we define ourselves by conditioned roles we play, buy into social constructs based on gender, race and educational status, we essentially train our brain to line up with this self-imposed personality, self-image and identity traits.
While I do believe that we do have certain soul tendencies, gifts and talents, our personality determines how they play out on the stage of life. We are not pre-programmed robots. The level at which we live, the quality of our life, even our achievements depend upon the expression of our personality.
For example, if you feel awkward with people, you are less likely to be likeable. You are less likely to be flexible, to be real or to be engaging. Do you think this just might affect your ability to be an influential social or business networker? Are you then stuck? I would say not.
While you may not be a naturally charismatic person, if you begin to address the parts of your personality that limit you, and you have the motivation to do so, by raising self-awareness and understanding how the technology of your brain operates with practical tools and skills, you can literally change your brain and personality at a physiologic level. And you can do it much faster if you have this new knowledge and skill set I’m referring to derived from neuroscience. I speak from experience. It helps your conscious, intellect to cooperate with you instead of continuing to sabotage your ability to change behavior.
While I started out in life somewhat introverted I wanted to be expressive/extroverted socially and I eventually did so as I attended school. Due to a cluster of stories I told myself later in life, I became socially uncomfortable and even awkward. Of course, the more uncomfortable, the more awkward and the more I created the self-fulfilling prophecy that I wasn’t likeable or that I wasn’t good in social settings. Socially interaction became a chore – not enjoyable! As time went on, I became aware of my capacity to change my behavior, mentally and emotionally. I’ve been able to not only turn this totally around, but I have more confidence, self-love and self-worth/value than I’ve had at any point in my life. It didn’t just happen; I had to want to change and to apply these life-changing principles.
I’ve had to learn how to disconnect from truisms that are unfounded in objective science and learn how to think for myself. I’ve had to understand how my own brain can be conditioned to sabotage my joy and passion for living.
I’ve used my training in the sciences, such as neuroscience to actually apply the research in tangible, usable ways to evolve my own leadership and people skills as well as help others do the same. You can do it also. I also tend to be holistically focused, including both brain hemispheres, a mind with heart approach. One of the central keys has been to really and truly understand the connection between how we unwittingly program our brain and mind and how this effects our personal reality. How it affects our spirit, emotion and body. The more you understand and apply these principles and skills, the easier it gets. The happier and more peace of mind you can have. It’s like any other skill – practice and application increases mastery.
So if you have parts of your personality that are standing in the way of living a healthier, prosperous and relationally happy life, know that you can change this ‘in your bones’. It is not just about the latest self-help special, it really boils down to learning how to empower yourself and take back the steering wheel of your mind and your own life. Can you see how shifting your personality can change how you experience work, health and relationships? Do you think you can change your personality to align with your deeper, essential Self? Why or why not?