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Personality Isn’t Permanent: Personality Myths That Hold You Back

Personality Isnt Permanent

WE tend to think that we are who we are and there’s not much we can do about that. But the fact is, we choose our personality and who we are. Your personality is shaped by the choices you make over time.

Benjamin Hardy takes to task the idea that we were born hardwired as he person we are, and we cannot change that in Personality Isn’t Permanent.

Personality tests are part of the problem. I like to think of them as a snapshot and not a life sentence. They are like a frame in a movie—just a part of the story of your life. They tell you where you are and, in that way, they are very valuable.

Personality tests are self-reported. Our view of ourselves is constantly changing based on our current focus, context, and emotions.

Anyone who’s ever done something great with their life had to transform themselves from who they are to who they became. They had to act accordingly beyond their current personality and circumstances to eventually do what they did and become who they became.

The following myths limit your growth and potential. Freeing yourself of these myths will help you to take charge of the person you want to become.

Myth #1: Personality Can Be Categorized into “Types”

There are no personality types that lock us into a way of being. These labels we take on tend to excuse us from taking personal responsibility for the behavioral outcomes we experience. We are not as limited in our responses as a personality test would make us believe. We are not stuck.

Under this paradigm, the way you react to life is just “who you are,” and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. You shouldn’t try to change who you are, and you couldn’t if you tried. Even if those traits are limitations, there is nothing you can do about it. Just live with the constraints God or your DNA has given you.

We can shape our personalities to serve our goals. “Your personality should come from your goals. Your goals shouldn’t come from your personality.”

Myth #2: Personality Is Innate and Fixed

Our personalities change over time. Who do you want your future self to be? Based on where you want to go, what kind of person do you need to be?

Who you want to be in the future is more important than who you are now, and should actually inform who you are now. Your intended future self should direct your current identity and personality far more than your former self does.

We should use our future self as the filter for developing our personality now. “Your future self should be evolved and different from your current self. Successful people start with a vision of their future self and use it as the filter for everything they do.”

Myth #3: Personality Comes from Your Past

The idea that you are defined by your past or that the past is the best predictor of your future is true, but not because you can’t change. You simply haven’t for another reason. Hardy lists four reasons that keep people stuck in their past:

  1. They continue to be defined by past traumas that haven’t been reframed.
  2. They have an identity narrative based on the past, not the future.
  3. Their subconscious keeps them consistent with their former self and emotions.
  4. They have an environment supporting their current rather than their future identity.

Past events should inform and change our present and future because we are learning from them. If not, we shortchange our futures. “How we describe, interpret, and identify with our past has far more to do with where we are, here and now, than it has to do with our actual past.” British philosopher Alain de Botton once wrote, “Anyone who isn’t embarrassed by who they were twelve months ago isn’t learning enough.”

Myth #4: Personality Must Be Discovered

Our personality, like our passion(s), is created by us. It’s not discovered. It’s designed. We need to be intentional about it. It is a by-product of the decisions we make. Hardy’s friend Kary is trying to find herself and her passion without success. Hardy comments:

What Kary fails to understand is that inspiration follows action, not the other way around. Lightning isn’t going to strike for her. Unless and until she takes action, her confidence and imagination will remain low. She needs to decide what she wants and begin moving forward. With progress—even minuscule progress—her clarity and confidence will increase, opening the door for greater flexibility and change.

Myth #5: Personality Is Your True and “Authentic” Self

Your “authentic self” is a moving target, especially if you are one to explore possibilities and are growing. To define yourself with a fixed, authentic self is self-limiting and rigid. It lacks imagination and a growth mindset.

Your authentic self is what you most believe in and who you aspire to be. Moreover, your authentic self is going to change. Being authentic is about being honest, and being honest is about facing the truth, not justifying your limitations because you don’t want to be uncomfortable having hard conversations.

The Gap and the Gain

Hardy devotes the rest of the book to showing us how to deal with and move on from each of these prevailing myths of personality. He deals with important issues like transforming your trauma and shifting your story by living in the gain rather than the gap and focusing on what is missing.

When you’re in the gap, you can’t enjoy or comprehend the benefits in your life. All you’re focused on is why something wasn’t how you thought it should have been. For instance, you might live in a great house. But if you’re in the gap, then all you might see is what’s wrong with your house. You may have an amazing partner but only see what you believe to be wrong or missing in them.

As we get older, we tend not to put ourselves into new contexts, so our personality become predictable. Stanford psychologist Lee Ross says, “We see consistency in everyday life because of the power of the situation.” Hardy adds, “Putting yourself in new environments, around new people, and taking on new roles in one of the quickest ways to change your personality, for better or worse.”

Your personality is your choice.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:58 PM
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