How many personalities are you?
But I'm just me aren't I? Well yes and no.
Here's some questions to help you to find out how well you know yourself. It's something I've conjured up as a result of counselling and studying and comes in a series of mini exercises which bit by bit get you to understand your own way of thinking and seeing things.
There's no right or wrong unless you happen to stumble on something you want to change about yourself.
Important: No change is ever possible unless you yourself want to change, and then it's entirely up to you what (if anything at all) you change.
If you repeat the exercises every five years you will reveal how you have developed, grown and evolved. These things do take time, repeating the exercise more often than annually doesn't usually result if any significant difference as it's very rare for personality traits to alter that quickly. I say rare because I don't rule it out being possible. Also some changes may be to get you through a difficult time and therefore temporary.
Personally, at times I'd like to be more methodical at certain things, but on balance it's not that important to me to devote time to changing that aspect of my life. Other things I have changed though, such as refusing to be ashamed of my mental health history anymore. It's been a feature of my life, but is only one of many aspects that have shaped who I am. I've taken ownership of it, but it does in no way represent the whole of me anymore than having toothache can.
Before starting I need to add it works best if you are honest about yourself. After all it's for you, and you alone. You are not obliged in anyway to ever share your answers with anyone at all.
Describe your personality.
Describe how others perceive you.
Name and count the various moods you can find yourself in.
For this exercise it might help to think about how you are in different situations e.g. in a shop, seeing a bank manager, at the doctors, with colleagues at work, at home with friends or family, at a party etc.
Start with a list of 20 everyday situations, then describe how you are in those situations according to the following;
- when you are on your own
- when you are with a companion you like
- when you are with a companion you dislike
Repeat Exercise 4 but now add in how you are when you are:
- talking to someone you like
- talking to someone you dislike
- trying to impress or seeking approval
- trying to be dismissive and get away
There are so many variants to this exercise e.g. how are you when in the company of someone you like but have just had an argument with when trying to impress say a bank manager or boss? Gets complicated doesn't it? Keep going though, you're nearly half way through!
Look at your description of yourself (Exercise 1). How accurate and honest have you been? Did you include all your positives and all your negatives or only some? What does that tell you about how you see yourself? Now fill in the gaps!
Look at how you think others see you (Exercise 2). Who have you chosen to think of for this exercise? Why is that? How well do you think they know you? What have you shared with them for them to know you well? What would happen if you picked someone who knew little about you or who you don't get on with. Write your thoughts down.
Describe how you want to be perceived by others. Who in particular do you want to see you in this way and why?
When does it not matter how you are perceived? Why is this?
From all the exercises count up and list how many of the situations were you 'performing' or 'acting' a part. e.g. trying to impress someone you dislike, or the bank manager.
From all the exercises count and list how many different moods and behaviours you have got in your repertoire.
What, if anything would you like to change about your personality? And what examples of your own behaviour can you draw upon to develop in this way. Write down your findings.
If you can put on a performance for an interview, be pleasant to relatives and colleagues you don't really like, then what is it that's stopping you becoming the person you want to be known for? What is stopping you from having the confidence to reach for your goals?
We all act, perform and pretend we are ok when we're not etc, every day of our lives as different situations require certain codes of conduct. Consequently we are never entirely one thing or another as we change according to what's happening at any given moment and who we are with. It might make for an interesting interview to tell them in graphic detail about throwing up after a party, but I doubt it will get you the job!
We develop different masks to protect ourselves from getting hurt and to win attention and favour, but the over use of them becomes the barrier to our own development and can prevent others from finding out who we really are. If we don't know our inner selves, no one else stands a chance.
List all your best qualities and greatest ambitions. Add to the list, all the nice things that have been said about you, compliments and praise given. You should be able to find something somewhere that indicates you're not a bad person and that's the crucial bit to focus and build upon, from now onwards.
It doesn't mean ignore our bad habits, moods and behaviours, but by looking at the list of good habits and qualities we are better equipped to combat them with positive action instead of torturing ourselves over how rotten a person we might feel we are.
No one is all good; but equally, no one is all bad either. Everyone is multi-faceted. The trick is to polish and hone the best bits. It's a continual process as we journey through life. And along the way we all need to remember to admit to mistakes, forgive ourselves for making them and be open and active in learning from them. That's how we grow, that's how we develop, that is how we evolve.
I've found it to be one of the key ways I've found to enriching and improving my quality of life.