The Forming of Personality. Let me start this by asking you a question. What is personality? I don’t mean someone that we see on television, but the long-standing traits and behavioural patterns that are consistent within a person. The things that propel someone to think, feel and do as they do.
They appear at different times and in different situations, but they epitomise what you would expect to see in and from that particular person at that particular time. Knowing what personality is, helps us to see how a personality can be developed.
In a DISC Personality Profile, which I sometimes use with my clients, we look closely at how you are in varying scenarios – how you like to be seen by others, how you see yourself and who you become when in stressful situations as your personality will be different in each situation.
The famous Aristotle phrase – “give me the boy until seven and I will show you the man” has a lot of merit. In the majority of cases a child will have learnt enough about the world around them to function as themselves by this age. This has a lot to do with how the brain functions until roughly this age (it will vary slightly from person to person).
A child has been influenced by their environment and life experiences enough to formulate how they see themselves, how to interact with others in a variety of circumstances and what parts of themselves fit and don’t fit into their life situation. They take these forwards as their ‘normal’ from this point on.
A child that is supported, encouraged, believed in and has a secure attachment with their caregivers will generally grow up with a healthy and adaptive personality, being able to be authentic within themselves and allow these constituent parts to be seen. (This can be influenced once they begin interacting at school, but is not generally changed by this unless they are subject to something traumatic).
On the other hand, if a child is subject to criticism, neglect and insecure attachment they will generally form maladaptive reactions to situations, relational patterns and self-perception.
The significant word here is ‘perception’ because it does all depend on the perceptions of the brain which will determine how they develop. What kind of strategies does the brain employ to fit in, to avoid feeling pain and manage this environment?
The Forming of Personality …
When it comes to the type of coaching that I offer, I am generally dealing with this maladaptive way of thinking. What parts of the personality are prominent in someone’s life, that come from a ‘coping’ process.
The Bicycle Affect is the foundation of the Interpersonal Relationship Coaching approach. Here is a graphical representation of this:
We also need to look at personality in its constituent parts, as we all have varying components that make us ‘whole’. We choose what we allow to be seen, where, when and who with. What of ourselves ‘fits’ into each and every situation.
If there are sides of ourselves that we do not accept, then we are not only unlikely to let them be seen, but reject them within us, thinking they are wrong, unloved, bad or whatever it is we label them as. We expect others to see those parts of us in the same way, that we will be judged in the same way that we judge ourselves, withhold and hide them away.
If you drink alcohol, you will notice that there are parts of yourself that you allow more freedom to when you have had a few units. The part of your brain that influences your conscious behaviours has diminished control and you find it hard to hide these parts of yourself away.
The Forming of Personality
In my documentary Forget Me Not, The Child You Left Behind, we explore this issue and how it can impact on your ability to live a happy and fulfilled life. If you are unable to accept yourself fully then there will always be something that you are unhappy with. Your personality will never be completely free, you will likely buy into limiting self-beliefs and life beliefs that will hold you back and stop you from reaching your full potential.
As I said at the start, the definition of personality is a long-standing trait, a behavioural pattern that you exhibit in life over a prolonged period of time, but it may not truly tell the whole story of who you are. You may still be living a life full of expectations you learnt as a child, and you are adapting yourself to fit into these expectations, the story that you learnt in those formative years.
What is the importance of understanding this journey for yourself? Well, you can figure out how you work and how your life is influenced by who you are. Are there parts of your personality that cause you a sense of ill-ease? Do you find that you react to certain situations in a way that people expect, but may not be the way you want to do so anymore?
What about the beliefs that you hold about yourself, life and relationships? Do you hold yourself back or can you utilise the parts of you that drive you forward more fully?
The Forming of Personality … Your personality is not fixed and if you need to change it, if you want to let all parts of yourself be accepted, you can. You need to recognise why you think, feel and do what you do and decide if you want to continue living in the same story, or start to write some brand new chapters.
Be good to yourself.