Personality is how we do life
Personality is a topic that captivates people because it holds the key to so much of what determines how people behave in relationships, choose professions, make decisions, and understand the world. It is the factor that determines what makes one person an amazing teacher and another a top performing executive. It is the aspect of a person that determines whether s/he loves the spotlight or prefers more intimate friendships. It determines the way one will move through the struggles and triumphs of life. It is also the factor that makes one person likely to engage in acts of kindness and compassion and another person prone to mean spiritedness and vindictive behavior. Given how much of a person's life is determined by personality factors, it is no wonder that it's a topic of such intense interest.
Personality can be understood as the consistent and sustaining manner in which a person thinks feels and behaves. A person's personality develops via the complex combination of genes and experience. It seems that we are born with a genetically determined temperament which to a large extent dictates how we react to life experiences. It is the combination our experiences and our reactions to them at different phases of development in life that come together to form our personalities. Some psychologists think that personality cannot be altered. While I agree that there are certain genetically determined aspects of a person's temperament that are highly unlikely to change over the course of a lifetime, personality on the whole can be shifted into a healthier version of itself when a person heals from painful or traumatic events that impacted their capacity to successfully navigate a developmental staged or developmental stages. It may even possible that these changes can occur at a genetic level as recent findings in genetic science have shown that genes can activate or deactivate in a person's genome throughout the lifetime as a person's experience changes. However, we are far from understanding how exactly these changes could impact personality.
Having insight into ones personality is important when making life's biggest decisions, such as choosing where to live, who to marry, what to do for a living, and what it means to grow as a person. Taking the time to reflect on one's traits and occasionally seeking assistance to find clarity, can be immensely helpful in guiding decisions with positive outcomes. Once a person has chosen a marriage, family, career, and community; insight into ones traits and tendencies becomes even more important in making these aspects of life as happy and healthy as possible. For example, if one has a strong personality trait of dominance it may work for them if their career is as a litigating attorney, however this same trait may be quite problematic in a marriage. When a person realizes that dominance is one of their strongest traits they can be mindful of when to rely on it and when to work on accessing another aspect of the self to be more effective. I look at personality through a lens of understanding that sees all personality traits as having the potential for being healthy or unhealthy as well as useful or destructive. Extraversion and introversion, risk-taking and rule-following, cooperativeness and competitiveness, and planfulness and spontaneity are a few of the many personality traits a person might possess to varying degrees. The goal of therapy is not about changing the personality, but rather building insight and skills and aiding development and healing, to unlock the beauty and potential that already exists within each person.