Develop Your Personality (Part – 5)

The word “personality” originates from the Latin persona, which means mask. Significantly, in the theater of the ancient Latin-speaking world, the mask was not used as a plot device to disguise the identity of a character, but rather was a convention employed to represent or typify that character. Our personality is an aggregate conglomeration of decisions we’ve made throughout our lives. There are inherent natural, genetic, and environmental factors that contribute to the development of our personality. In this process, we identify our conscious traits and contrasting them with what we intend to exhibit. Personality also colors our values, beliefs, and expectations.Hereditary factors that contribute to personality development do so as a result of interactions with the particular social environment in which we live.

Personality is usually defined as the enduring personal characteristics of individuals.It can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences his or her cognitions, motivations, fitness and behaviors in various situations. The society must take someone as oxygen is more required for survival than carbon dioxide. Those who have good personality, are able to provide leadership to their respective groups and/or the whole society. In the modern ages, Freudian Psychoanalysis theory is being used for exercise of development of personality. Freud believed that two basic drives- sex and aggression- motivate all our thoughts and behaviors. He referred to these as Eros (love representing the life instinct, sex being the major driving force) and death instinct (characterized by aggression to eliminate its enemies.) Freud conceived the mind as only having a fixed amount of psychic energy (libido). The outcome of the interaction between the id, ego and the superego (each contending for as much libidinal energy as possible) determines our adult personality. He also believed that these three parts- the id, ego, and superego are the tripartite personality. The id allows us to get our basic needs met, based on the pleasure principle i.e. it wants immediate satisfaction, with no consideration for the reality of the situation. As a child interacts more with the world, the ego begins to develop. The ego’s job is to meet the needs of the id, whilst taking into account the constraints of reality. The ego acknowledges that being impulsive or selfish can sometimes hurt us, so the id must be constrained. The superego develops during the phallic stage as a result of the moral constraints placed on us by our parents. It is generally believed that a strong superego serves to inhibits the biological instincts of the id (resulting in a high level of guilt), whereas a weak superego allows the id more expression (resulting in a low level of guilt).Some time, our ego has a difficult time trying to satisfy both the needs of the id and the superego. Then, it employs defense mechanisms like repression by which unacceptable id impulses are pushed out of awareness and into the unconscious mind. Another example of a defense mechanism is projection through which a boy makes projection of some incident.

Personality Development In Different Ages:

We all come in different shapes and sizes and belong to different social cultures, school of thoughts with individual traits of characters. We all have our individual strengths and weaknesses. What’s right for one person may not be right for another. There are things that are important to me, that you don’t care about at all! Sometimes your behavior doesn’t make any sense to me. But we must wish for us to understand each other, and communicate well, because we live together in the same world. I know I can’t expect you to want the same things that I want. We are not the same person, so we will not always see things the same way. I have my own thoughts and my own ideas that may or may not fit into your vision of who I should be. By learning more about my own personality, and about other Personality Types, I can come to a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. I can improve my interpersonal relationships, realign my expectations towards others, and gain a better self-knowledge that will help me define and achieve goals. Personality Type has a developmental process which can be observed through an individual’s life. The early phases of our lives help determine the dominance ordering of the four functions (Sensing, Intuition, Thinking and Feeling), and the development of our dominant and auxiliary functions. The later phases help us develop our tertiary and inferior functions.

From age 0 – 6 years we use all four of the functions in an indiscriminate fashion. We try on the different functions for size, determining which ones work best for us. In this range, the child does not indicate any particular personality type, although his parents may notice trends in behavior which appear to have the characteristics of one or more types.

From 6 – 12 years, our dominant function begins to develop and assert itself, to appear dreamy and introspective – he begins to prefer to use his intuition to take in information, and he chooses to do this alone (introverted). The dominant function of introverted intuition begins to show itself as the prevailing aspect of his personality. For the most of time, he entertains himself and his own friends. He does not reconcile with the strangers very easily without making them his friends first. If he reconciles, he can enjoy the company. Here, his own wishes work more than the dictates of others. They are required to be nurtured more carefully.

During the age of 12 – 20 years, the auxiliary function asserts itself as a powerful support to the dominant function. This is an important time of “self-identification”. Research suggests that people without a strong auxiliary function to complement their dominant function have real problems. The auxiliary feeling function come to the front during this phase as a support to the dominant intuitive function. Since his dominant function is an Information Gathering function, the auxiliary function becomes a Decision Making one. As the auxiliary feeling process comes forth, the child, becoming adolescent, begins to develop the ability to make decisions based on his personal value system. This auxiliary decision making process becomes extroverted, since the dominant function is introverted. Since the decision making function is extrovert, he now emerges as a “Judger”, rather than a “Perceiver”.

From 20 – 35 years, he grows up to be an adult member of society and begins to use his concepts more frequently and with better success. He continues to make judgments with his extroverted feeling auxiliary function, but he also begins to make judgments based on logic and reason, which he works through in his own mind, rather than discussing it with others.Slowly, he develops himself to become a leader of the group and after equipping himself with the required data, he wishes to come out. Some sense of maturity is seen there but for the most of time, he works with his emotions more.

From 35 – 50 years
we pay attention to our fourth, inferior function. We feel a need to develop it and use it more effectively. We begin to use our extroverted sensing function. We become more aware of our surroundings and take in information from others in a more literal, practical sense. But we continue to rely on our dominant introverted intuitive function to take in information, and more able to use our Extroverted Sensing function than we had been doing before in our life. The appearance of our inferior functions at this phase of life may be responsible for what we commonly call the “mid-life crisis”.

From 50 years onwards until our death,
we have accessibility to all four functions. However, we use them in a more disciplined, differentiated manner than when we were very young. Our basic Personality Type continues to assert itself, but we are able to call upon all four functions when needed. This is the age where we find our personality fixed and totally grown up. We can still develop but within the hard framework which we developed before coming into this age group. One great thing we can do is that we can give up our bad habits to some extent.

Perhaps the most important realization that an individual can make in their quest for personal growth is that there is no single formula that defines the path to personal success. We all have different goals and priorities, which mean that different activities and attitudes will make us feel good about ourselves. We also have different natural strengths and weaknesses that are a part of our inherent personality type. How then, as individuals, can we feel successful in our lives?

Why should we understand what’s Important to us?

Each personality type has a different idea of what it means to be successful. Self-knowledge is one common goal that will help everyone achieve personal success. So many people are hung up on somebody else’s idea of what it means to be successful, and they are unaware of what is truly important to them. This is completely normal. We all have important role-models and influencers in our lives that may have basic values that are quite different from our own. If this is the case, it’s important to recognize that the discrepancy between what we have been taught and what we personally believe to be truly important is due to a difference in perspective. If we spend our time and effort trying to meet somebody else’s idea of success, and ignore or belittle any conflicting messages from our own psyche, then we will find ourselves exhausted and unhappy. Realizing what is truly important to us is a major step towards achieving personal success. We must make introspection. We can afford to have meditation or invite criticism from our well-wishers to improve.

Why should we recognize our weaknesses without hiding behind them?

While improving our self-knowledge and realizing our true goals can be very liberating, we should not discard the rules of the society in which we live. We must recognize that other people’s value systems are no less important than our own. And we must recognize and accept that we live in a society in which certain personality types and behaviors are more suited towards particular tasks. This is the second key that will open the door towards personal growth.

For example, there are situations in which it is more appropriate and effective to show compassion and caring (feeling), rather than impersonal logic (thinking). Likewise, there are situations that call for using impersonal logic to make a decision, in which the more subjective viewpoint of the feeling function is inappropriate and ineffective. Persons with a preference for feeling will have a natural advantage over thinkers in situations that require compassion and awareness of other’s emotions. Conversely, persons with a preference for thinking will have a natural advantage over feelers in situations that require the ability to make a decision based on impersonal data.

As we learn about our personality type and the types of others, we are empowered with an understanding of why people react differently in different situations. When put into the context of Psychological Type, we can better accept and understand people’s behaviors that are different from ours. These insights are extremely useful and powerful to us as individuals. However, if we are concerned with growing as individuals, we must take care not to use personality type as an excuse for our inappropriate behavior. While it’s powerful and useful to notice that another person’s inappropriate behavior may be due to their personality type, we cannot use the same reasoning on ourselves. We should recognize that our personality type has weaknesses, but we must use that knowledge to conquer those weaknesses rather than to excuse poor behavior. We cannot be responsible for other people’s behavior, but we can control our own. We can say “I love you” to those whom we love truly but others can not compel us to say so. It is our own willingness. If we are dictated to say so by others, that means we are weak.

Accordingly, if we notice that someone seems to be unable to make an impersonal decision that is isolated from human perspective, we should say to ourselves, “Ah ha, here is a feeler. This person does not use thinking well, and that is why they’re behaving this way.” Yet when we as feelers are presented with a situation that requires an impersonal approach, we should not say to ourselves “I am a feeler, and can’t be expected to make decisions based purely on impersonal facts and logic.” This kind of rationalization for behavior is certainly an easy way out of a situation, but it enforces the weakness, making it weaker and weaker still.

Why should we strive for balance?

Most of the weaknesses associated with any given personality type are a result of that type’s dominant function overtaking the personality to the extent that the other functions become slaves to the dominant function. Although it is natural for every personality to be ruled by its dominant function, it becomes a problem when the supporting functions are not allowed to develop fully on their own because they are too busy “serving the master”. In such cases, a personality can become quite imbalanced.

A situation in which the dominant function of a personality completely overshadows the other personality functions is analogous to a kingdom that is ruled by an overbearing king who requires absolute servitude, whether he is doing yoga for health or avoiding illness or mental stress, he is making prayers or worshiping according to his religion or any other personal work like taking meals. Imagine, such a king sitting down to dinner in his castle. He keeps all of his servants running about to bring him dinner, and requires that they serve him fully (disregarding their own needs) until he is completed sated. His Foreign Minister, who is expected at an important affair at a neighboring kingdom, finds himself pouring ale. His Minister of Domestic Affairs, rather than addressing the issue of a failing economy, slices roast turkey. His staff grabs food for themselves here and there, but never get what they really need or want, and are consequently unsatisfied, malnourished, and underdeveloped. The issues that the staff should be taking care of are left undone, because they never finish their primary task of serving the king. The king’s immediate needs are being met, and so he is tolerably happy, but he is an ineffective king. As far as he knows, everything and everybody exists simply to serve him. He has no concept of Success beyond his daily needs. He is working like infants cry for their milk only, not able to see how that is arranged. Since he cannot see beyond his own needs, the entire kingdom suffers.

Likewise, a personality that has developed with a goal of serving a dominant function above all other considerations often results in a person who is imbalanced. In severe cases, the weaknesses associated with the given type are often quite apparent to others, and overshadow the individual’s natural strengths. Such a drastic imbalance is not common, and may be the result of continuous and extreme stress. Most people will experience times in their lives during which they are stressed to the point of serious imbalance. People who experience this constantly have issues that need to be dealt with, and should seek help.

Much more commonly, we see individuals who exhibit both the strengths and weaknesses of their type. It is natural and healthy that each personality type is ruled by a dominant function, and that the other functions support the ruling function. We don’t seek to change anyone’s natural self, or to achieve a perfect balance amongst a personality’s functions. By definition, a kingdom needs a king in order to exist, and a personality needs a dominant function. However, a kingdom with a well-developed and effective king (the dominant function), who has well-trained and educated advisors (the supporting functions), will thrive more than the kingdom ruled by a neglectful king who is supported by inexperienced advisors.

As we can see, Balance and Success are relative terms. They have different meaning for each of the sixteen personality types. One statement using these terms is true for all types: Balance is the key to Success.

Why must we be open?

So how do we go about realizing what’s truly important to us? How do we recognize our weaknesses, and learn not to hide behind them? How do we become balanced? How do we open that magical door that will show us the way to personal growth and success? How can we remove the pains of others? How can we define our vision? How can we ensure good parenting? How can we be able to maintain good relationships in the society? How can we evaluate rewards? What is our opinion about spirituality and tolerance with other’s concepts? What kind of therapy do we apply in healing the wounds of others, given by us physically or emotionally? How do we define true love? We must not hesitate to accept that if we keep ourselves confined to some limited concepts, we may not be able to see beyond them and sometime, we may suffer if those concepts become non-viable in the changed circumstances. We need to be open to the changing world and if we do, that will have a proper reflection in our personality.

There is no such scheme that will make you a successful person with a push of button. Psychological study of oneself is a powerful aid in our quest for excellence, but it is not the actual solution. It is a model that will help you to expand your understanding of human nature. An improved understanding of yourself and others will help you to find, follow or expand your path. An awareness and acceptance of the fact that one personality function being more effective than another function in a given situation will help you to understand the relevance of personal growth to your life. Hence, a continuation of the efforts in this direction is required.

Personality development is crucial for our success, our happiness, our incomes, prospects of our industries, increasing yield of our investments etc. It has more dimensions to think upon, we may discuss further in the next post.

Be Happy – Develop Your Personality Further.