The average person loves personality typing. Whether it’s horoscopes, Myer Briggs, DISC, Enneagram, The Four Tendencies, there is a personality typing system that explains the different facets of your personality.
The truth is that we all love to know about ourselves. Most often we are searching for a nice “pat on the back” for our best traits. We feel acknowledged when reading and learning about the great qualities of a personality type and bask in that self-acknowledgement.
Though, while it is nice to know about all of the positive traits of your personality, there is a much more useful application of personality typing. Understanding your personality allows you to be aware of your more dysfunctional or limiting behaviours, also. Awareness of these behaviours is the key to change.
Your personality is completely formed by the time you are seven years old
Meaning your behaviours and why you act the way you do is generally static and will not significantly change. As a child, you react and respond to your environment (i.e. your parents and the conditions of your upbringing) and over time with repetition, these behaviours become your automatic responses to life. This is quite profound because your personality is formed by the responses of an inexperienced and immature child and then you become stuck with it!
It’s actually why when things don’t go our way we react very childishly – become angry, sulk, be passive-aggressive, seek revenge etc. We are playing out the responses that we used as a child since that behaviour is now our wired response to life.
Knowing your behaviour and how and why it came about is important because then you can see your behaviours objectively. Bringing an objective view to your personality allows you to transform your behaviours.
In every personality profile, while there is an emphasis on the positive aspects of that personality, you can also find a profile of the negative aspects
If you are someone who always puts others first, on the flip side of that, do you neglect your own needs? Do you hold it against someone that you’ve done something for them and secretly expect something in return?
If you are a high-achiever, do you push yourself to burnout? Neglect people who are important to you and deserve your time? Afraid of your emotions?
If you are good at perceiving others, are you overly suspicious? Do you distrust people more than you should and aren’t open to opportunities because of it?
If you are detail orientated, are you overly critical? Do you focus on people’s mistakes and push them away in doing so?
The awareness of every aspect of your personality, good and bad, is when your transformation can begin.
How can our awareness of our behaviours allow change?
Since our behaviours are often played out automatically without a conscious decision, you will often see your limiting behaviours play out only in hindsight.
However, with the practice of noticing it after it has happened, soon you will see it while the behaviour is playing out. This is where you now have the opportunity to do something different than you usually would.
“This is where I usually … [insert dysfunctional behaviour]” you might say to yourself in these opportune moments. You will be able to pre-empt or mindful of those tricky and non-helpful automatic behaviours enough to do something different.
Doing this lays down new neural pathways in your brain for that behaviour and with more practice, you will get become better at doing it.
It is often said that your personality will remain intact your whole life. Your personality has core attributes and while you can become more mature with time i.e. a shy ten year old will act differently to a shy fifty year old, your core personality won’t change much.
However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t work within your personality to overcome some of your more limiting behaviours.
Of course, with all things, changing your behaviours takes practice and dedication to see any lasting changes.