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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

Psychologists Say It’s Really Possible To Change Our Personality

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Psychologists Say It’s Really Possible To Change Our Personality

Do you feel that you can become a better person, but your personality is hindering you from doing so?

Are you one of those people who is making a conscious effort to change, but no matter how hard you try, you remain a prisoner of your personality traits?

Don’t lose hope – it is indeed possible to change your personality!

Personality Crisis

According to the widely accepted model of personality with over 50 years worth of research and study, there are five dimensions of our personality, known as the “Big Five:”

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  • Extraversion: People with high levels of this personality dimension are much more outgoing and tend to be more comfortable in social situations compared to others.
  • Agreeableness: Your level in this dimension determines whether you are more cooperative with other people or competitive (even to the point of being manipulative) with other people.
  • Conscientiousness: Thoughtful people who have high levels of this trait dimension are much more detail-oriented and driven.
  • Neuroticism: Moodiness and the propensity for sadness are associated with people who possess excessive amounts of this personality dimension.
  • Openness: Imaginative and insightful people are very receptive to change and new experiences, whereas those who are not are much more stubborn and reluctant to try out new things.

These personality dimensions are further shaped by our genetics and our upbringing, the latter of which also involves our living environment and culture. These factors ultimately help shape your personality as you grow up, some of which could lead to personality disorders.

However, your personality is never fully set in stone. In fact, it is not uncommon for adults to tweak their personalities as they prepare themselves for new challenges and life situations. For example, stubborn partners will find themselves making an effort to become more cooperative with their loved ones if they want their relationship to work. While these instances may not necessarily lead to positive results, it is evidence enough that changing your personality is not impossible.

The question that begs to be asked is this:

How Much Effort Are People Willing to Put in to Make That Change?

According to a recent study at the University of Illinois, only 13% of respondents were satisfied with their personalities – most of them wanted to change for the better. However, instead of encouraging these people to get help from experts or take courses, R. Chris Fraley and Nathan Hudson conducted different tests instead to see if the respondents can quantify their personalities to make the necessary changes. The results of the test were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which you can view here.

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The first experiment involved an introductory psychology class, who were educated about the Big Five personality dimensions and asked to grade their personalities by filling out a rating form. They were then asked if they wanted something to change in their personality over the 16-week period of this study. To do this, they needed to find a way to change their undesirable personality traits using goals and metrics to track their progress.

Among the 135 participants, half joined the “change plan” condition, in which they were given writing assignments over the same period to assess the changes they need to make for their personalities. Every week, they were also required to complete additional writing assignments to evaluate their progress further. The other half were not asked to write – instead, they were placed in a controlled setting and were provided feedback about their development.

The second experiment involved roughly the same number of participants. The only variable that Fraley and Hudson changed is that, instead of focusing on personality traits, they targeted daily behavior related to the traits that defined their personalities.

The result of both experiments demonstrates the capacity for people to make breakthroughs with their personalities. Participants were able to make strides by getting better scores on personality traits that they wanted to improve. However, the comprehensive change plans only had a modest impact on the actual changes in personality. Also, the 16-week period for the study was not enough for the participants to make the drastic changes one might expect.

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Steps to a Better You

Now that you are aware that you can still change your personality, below are some proactive steps that you can take so you can make the change as early as possible.

1. Do not let “labels” define you

You are not a shy and timid person. Nor are you a cold and callous one. You are simply a person full of potential to change and become a better version of yourself every day. You can be anything, as long as you put your mind to it.

2. Do good deeds

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Getting rid of a terrible personality can start with doing something good. A study published in Motivation and Emotion suggests that engaging in acts of kindness allows you to overcome anxiety. Letting the focus from yourself shift to others leads to more opportunities for social engagement.

3. Just wait

If you cannot force change, then let it come to you. According to a study conducted at the University of Manchester and the London School of Economics, change that naturally takes place is not out of the question. The more you undergo transformative experiences in life as you grow older, the more chances that changes in your personality take place.

At the end of the day, change is inevitable. As mentioned above, our personalities are shaped by our experiences in life. By exposing ourselves to positive experiences that we can live by and keeping an open mind for our own identities, there is no doubt that change for the better is indeed possible.

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Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/GmoHIZ61eMo via unsplash.com

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Christopher Jan Benitez

Christopher is a passionate writer sharing about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

25 Questions That Help You Understand Yourself and Your True Potential

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25 Questions That Help You Understand Yourself and Your True Potential

As you keep up with everything going on in your life – the responsibilities, the obligations, even the distractions – there will be times when you’ll look in the mirror and struggle to recognize yourself. “Where did I go? How can I understand myself better?” you’ll ask, wondering how you’ve ended up where you are. “How did my plans for the future end up so… screwed up?”

When you don’t take the time to understand yourself and who you are, your sense of individuality weakens. You become easily influenced and pushed into a lifestyle that doesn’t represent who you are. The good news is you can gradually transition into the life you want by periodically “checking in” with yourself – the better you understand yourself, the easier it will be to steer your life in the right direction.

Here are 25 questions to get you started. Each answer will shed light on your individuality and unlock your potential:

1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Make sure you’re really an extrovert and not an introvert in an extrovert’s clothing.

2. What are the top five words that describe your personality?

Highlight your key personality traits and stay true to who you are.

3. Are you comfortable or uncomfortable in a disorganized environment?

Define the ideal work/home environments you’re known to thrive in.

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4. Are you comfortable with taking risks?

Decide how you feel about uncertainty and how you’ll use it to create your ideal lifestyle.

5. Do you work better alone or in a busy environment?

When you know what your most productive work environment consists of, it will help you find (or create) a job that best suits your preferences.

6. What are your strengths?

Define what your strengths are and how you’re going to use them to your advantage.

7. What are your weaknesses?

Acknowledge what you struggle with and how you want to improve.

8. What sets you apart from everyone else?

Know your quirks and charm your ass off with them.

9. Are you motivated by competition?

Define what your ideal competition/collaboration formula is for optimal productivity.

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10. What are your favorite movies/shows/books?

Disregard what’s trending and define the types of movies/shows/books you’ll always enjoy. It speaks volumes of your personality.

11. What’s more important to you – having a career or a family?

Even though you’ll try to have both, we all teeter towards a favorite. Knowing this will help you decide which priority will receive a bigger piece of the pie.

12. Do you embrace rules or rebel against them?

This is a huge determining factor in the type of lifestyle you’ll create for yourself – structured or adventurous? Remember: there are no wrong answers.

13. Are you a morning person or a night person?

Know your energy peaks and valleys for when you’re setting goals.

14. What’s more important to you – saving time or saving money?

This will help you as you’re planning your goals – you’ll know what to outsource and what to take on yourself.

15. What do you lie about and why?

There are certain aspects of ourselves we don’t want anyone else to know about. Knowing why will help you to work through what makes you self-conscious.

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16. Do you say yes (or no) too much?

Saying yes to everything gives you little time for what you truly want to do, while saying no to everything may cause you to miss out on amazing experiences.

17. If money didn’t exist, what would you be doing with your time?

We lose sight of what’s important to us when the bills come due – regain control of what you enjoy doing the most.

18. Are you patient or impatient?

Define whether or not it gets in the way of your goals and what you’re going to do about it.

19. Who makes you feel energized/inspired and exhausted/depleted?

There could be select family members or friends who are holding you back. Decide how you’re going to set boundaries in your relationships.

20. If your home was on fire, what are the three things you’d leave with?

Answering this question will help you let go of the concept that material items will make you feel better as a person.

21. Do you take responsibility for your mistakes?

Blaming others for where your life is will get you nowhere – if anything, it will make you feel stuck. Take responsibility, learn from them, and forgive yourself.

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22. What has to happen before your “real” life starts?

You might think that when you reach a certain goal you’ll feel completely different, but such is not the case – you’ll simply set a new goal and wait for it to happen, and so on, and end up missing out on amazing experiences.

23. What are you avoiding?

We all have certain responsibilities we procrastinate on, but you have to face them eventually. You’ll feel a lot better once you do, and you can move onto the things you actually do care about.

24. Do you easily feel guilty?

You might be feeling stuck because of your years of people-pleasing; meanwhile, the only person you should worry about disappointing is yourself.

25. What do you think you have to lose?

Clearly there’s something holding you back from creating the life you want. Work with it instead of pretending it’s not there.

These questions can inspire you to reflect on yourself. Check in with yourself often and you will be amazed by the true potential you actually have.

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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