I’ve been pondering the question of whether your personality profile is a product of your upbringing, inherited from your parents or something unique to you. Here are my thoughts. Would be great to hear your views….
Most psychologists agree that our innate personality type is inalterable, set in stone either from birth or from childhood. Yet we all know that the person we are now, is not the person we were ten years ago. We know that in another ten years we will be different still. This is because, though our personality type might be settled, we are all capable of re-tuning aspects of our personality, and small changes can come together to equal monumental evolution.
Many people have had their personalities profiled. In your personal or professional life this can be key to unlocking your inner secrets, to finding out why you prefer certain environments, why you excel at one activity but struggle at an alternative and why you enjoy spending time with some people, but not with others.
But there is a risk that, knowing your personality type, you will feel pigeon holed or type cast. You might throw your hands up and declare that “it is no use even trying to network, I’m an introvert and that’s just the way it is.” But this is the wrong attitude. Our nature is a huge part of who we are, but we shouldn’t underestimate the role that nurture has to play.
A plethora of factors shape and mould our personalities, particularly in our early years. The manner and methods of our parents, the impact of our wider cultures and countless other factors combine to create the eventual “us”. Twins that are separated at birth can end up being very similar, yet fundamentally different.
Cultural psychologists and social anthropologists believe that culture has a profound impact on personality. This should really be self-evident. We all know that an ethnically Chinese baby, born in Shanghai but raised in Somerset, will be influenced immeasurably by English culture.
Once we realise that our personalities can be shaped and moulded, at least within certain limits, then we are in command of very powerful and positive tools. People who do not tell themselves that they are “X” but instead “my natural preferences run in X direction…” are in greater control of their lives. Again, we all know this naturally. We know not to tell a child that they are naughty, rather that they are being naughty. All the same we often forget to apply this logic when we are talking to ourselves.
People who tend naturally toward solitude are able to hold an audience spellbound, to hold court in social situations, to be the life and soul of the party. They might not always prefer to be in these kind of situations, but it is important to realise that this really is just a preference, not the only possible way for them to be.
Knowing your personality profile can be a tool for personal growth. If you use the information carefully, it can help you with achieving balance, understanding self and creating new possibilities. It can help you thrive at home, and at work. It can even help you become, and stay, healthy. But understanding your personality type is not a panacea. It will not fix everything and it is absolutely not an excuse to stop developing.