It seems that there has been an increase in focus on personality in the past years. Growing awareness of introvert versus extrovert personality types, people increasingly analyzing their personalities through tests like the MBTI, Enneagram, and DISc tests, and psychological shifts in the past couple of years have made many people more aware of their personalities and the personalities of those around them.
But this perhaps has also strengthened the idea that personality is definitive, not something that we can change. This, in general, is not true. There are certain elements of temperament – extraversion, curiosity, and agreeableness – that we are born with and are unlikely to ever change, but personality is more often defined by our thoughts, actions, experiences, and relationships. As a result, personality will continue changing throughout a person’s lifetime with opportunities for consciously building on strengths and reducing weaknesses.
Changing Your Personality for the Better
Change will happen naturally over time as a person continues to grow, has new opportunities and setbacks, and meets new people. This is why people that you knew as children may be very different as adults or you may have noticed changes in your own personality over the past few years that have altered what you want out of life and how you interact with others.
There is also personality change that can happen purposefully. The key requirement here is that the person is motivated to make a change. You cannot force change, but you can encourage it and put in the work necessary to get there.
Altering your personality can offer several benefits. You can cultivate the strengths in your personality to be more prominent and reduce the parts of your personality that you feel are holding you back. This can bring you greater happiness by better aligning your personality with the goals you hope to achieve or by helping you maintain a more positive outlook.
If you are contemplating a change to your personality, it is helpful to know what you can and cannot change before you begin. Rarely is anyone successful at changing their entire personality on will alone, but fortunately, you can alter the individual components that make up your personality, including:
- General Attitude and Outlook – You can shift how you see the world, taking on a more optimistic or reflective outlook that will eventually become ingrained.
- Actions and Habits – You can change your actions and routines to be more in line with the personality you want to have.
- Responses – Another key part of personality is how you respond to events, personal thoughts, and other people, which you can alter over time with focused effort.
When you want to make personality changes, it is important to remember that the process is not generally easy. It requires focused and consistent effort and there still may be some setbacks.
Many people discover that working with a therapist using cognitive behavioral therapy, which is focused on the interplay between thoughts and behaviors, can help put them on the most direct path to meeting the goals they have for personality changes.