Psychology

How to change your personality

8 Mins read
change your personality
change your personality

To change your personality is to change who you are, or at least who you perceive yourself to be. Do you know yourself that well to want to change?

Most of us are stuck in loops of self doubt, insecurity and uncertainty of our own abilities and strenght. This is primarily fueled by our lack of self awareness and emotional maturity. We fail to see what we are good at and tend to focus more on what we aren’t good at.

We find ourselves asking why we are not good at this or that like so and so, and forget to ask ourselves what we thrive at.

But sometimes our need to change is genuinely predicated on our real shortcomings such as lack of empathy, selfishness, rudeness, insensitivity and toxicity.

But, before you decide to change who you are as a person, it is important that you first figure out who you really are. You can’t change yourself if you don’t know how that is going to affect your core personality. That is why, I recommend you take a personality test before you embark on changing your core traits.

The accuracy of this test (from Truity– at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and purchase an assessment. You will be redirected from my website to Truity.com.) will depend upon how accurately you answer the questions and how many times you take the test, I recommend 3 times.

For a more complete answer, you may also want to tell a very close friend of yours to take the tst on your behalf to see whether your answers match.

It has been argued by many psychologists that our personality traits are fairly very stable and can rarely change no matter how much we try. A new study in 2018 found that some personality traits are fairly stable and others tend to change, helping us to mature over time.

In this study, American adolescents had filled out questionnaires about their personalities in the 1960s and then had done so again fifty years later, reporting on personal qualities associated with the “Big Five” personality traits:

  • Extroversion: How outgoing, social, cheerful, or full of energy and enthusiasm you are in social settings.
  • Agreeableness: How warm, friendly, helpful, generous, and tactful you are.
  • Neurotic-ism: How calm, content, and unflappable—versus anxious, angry, jealous, lonely, or insecure—you are.
  • Conscientiousness: How organized, efficient, and committed you are to finishing projects or reaching your goals.
  • Openness to experience: How curious, adventuresome, and receptive you are to new ideas, emotions, and experiences.

Some of the findings were quite provocative. Most notably, people’s personality traits did not always stay the same over the five decades, with many people showing quite dramatic changes.

Jordan Peterson, a Canadian author, clinical psychologist, and scholar who is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, is one of the greatest advocate for self authoring and personality development.

In the video below, he dives into what it would take for you to change your personality and if its even possible.

why change yourself

Why would you want to change your personality

When it comes to changing your personality, it is important that you make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. An ill intended change in your personality can lead to catastrophic outcomes that may leave you empty and very disappointed in yourself.

Emotional intelligence shows us that doing anything that is contrary to our core beliefs and moral compass will result in catastrophic emotional trauma and regret. Therefore, it is important to make sure your reasons are legit. Some of them may include;

To fit in

Human beings are social creatures, our drive to belong and be accepted by a community is greater than our drive to stay true to ourselves.

We prefer doing things that are more socially acceptable so that we can fit in with a particular group. This in itself isn’t a bad reason to change your personality, but be careful of why you want to fit in.

If you want to fit into the wrong company, or a society that won’t accept you as you are then I would say you just count your losses and walk. Don’t try to fit into a group that will change your core beliefs and your own moral compass. Unless you are an undercover cop trying to bust some bad guys, I would say this is a wrong choice.

In my previous article, What is normal according to the society, I talk about how changing yourself in order to please others isn’t necessarily bad unless pleasing them is going to be at your expense. You should only change yourself to accommodate those who care for you and want what is best for you. Don’t try to fit in into a group that will break your core personality.

To be successful

Several studies have shown how personality traits can impact your income. If you score highly on extroversion and goal orientation, for example, it’s been shown that you may well see more job success and a better salary.

This chart below, shows the estimated yearly average income arranged according to the MBTI personality types;

As you can see, from various studies and years of research, it has been proven that certain personality traits are more prone to accelerate you to success than others, hence warranting you to change your personality.

It is important to also note that emotional intelligence has also been attributed to success and life long fulfillment, therefore, don’t focus too much on which personality type binds you but focus more on emotional intelligence since it is more fluid and flexible than your core traits.

To foster good relationships

Your relationship strength can be defined by your personality type. For example, In relationships, an ENFJ personality will have good communication skills. People with this personality type are most comfortable in a stable relationship and so they seek out commitment. They bring out the best in people, are fun to be around, and they are affectionate toward their partner.

Many other character traits such as empathy, openness and extroversion may be more appealing in a relationship hence may push you to want to change yourself.

For moral reasons

In a 2007 research dealing with criminal justice and behavior, it was found that certain personality traits are at high risk for committing criminal offenses and social injustice. Also, persons suffering from personality disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, aggression, depression, adjustment disorders, are prone to criminal behavior, according to “Psychiatric Illness Associated with Criminality,” by William H.

However, these results are inconclusive and don’t apply in all cases, but some of you may be warranted if you saw it fit to change your traits so as to deviate from these criteria. Having more socially acceptable and less worrisome traits may be desirable to some since it makes life a bit easier.

So lets dive into how you may go about changing your personality.

So how do you change your personality

First, you need to know that some traits (stable traits – that are due to genetics) may not be changed, or if they can, then it would take you a very long time and a whole ton of patience. It has been shown that personalities get more stable and better with age – as you grow you become more conscientious hence the phrase ‘wise with old age’.

Therefore, you should put more focus on the unstable traits – these are traits that are brought about by beliefs, environment and upbringing. “People’s beliefs include their mental representations of the nature and workings of the self, of their relationships, and of their world. From infancy, humans develop these beliefs and representations, and many prominent personality theorists of different persuasions acknowledge that they are a fundamental part of personality,” Carol Dweck, a psychologist, explained in a 2008 paper.1

Dweck went on to say how these unstable traits are shaped by our own thinking and self belief, hence, can be changed by our own thinking too. This includes the praises you got from your parents which you have forever held to be true, the teachings you got in Church that you can’t let go even though you don’t really believe in them anymore, your views on certain social topics, your take on marriage and relationship and certain traits you might have picked up from observing your elders when you were young.

So how do you change these unstable traits?

Start with changing habits

Although controversial, it has been said that it may take 3 weeks to harness a certain habit. For me, this is true only if you partake in that habit at least 4 hours a day.

Start by making that trait which you want to forge in you a habit in your daily life. Focus on eliminating the parts you don’t want by forming a schedule and engaging activities around shaping that trait that you want.

If you want to be more extroverted, then focus more on going out, attending ceremonies and events, hanging out with friends way more than watching a movie by yourself or just chilling with your few closest friends. Push yourself to make a habit out of that trait.

Of course, forming a new habit or breaking an old one is never easy and it takes time and serious effort. With enough practice, these new patterns of behavior with eventually become second nature.

Focus and be patient

Do not loose sight of what you want. It is never easy changing yourself, if it were easy then everybody would be making it out here. Change is one of the most difficult things for your brain to do.

Our brain makes strong connections based on repetitive thoughts and actions in order to expend less energy. When you decide to change a deeply ingrained habit the body more or less freaks out. By diverting from an ingrained path your brain resists because it’s contrary to the connection it’s used to.

To avoid being burnt out, it’s crucial you keep yourself motivated and energetic till your goal is accomplished. You can do this by having a friend or family member to whom you will have to be accountable to, or having a big framed picture in your room to remind you of the dream, or the best way is to try positive reinforcement by practicing a reward system that will keep you elevated.

Lie – to yourself and others

“Fake it till you make it” is an English aphorism which suggests that by imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realize those qualities in their real life.

It is a way of cognitive behavior therapy that helps you transition into a certain behavior or habit by simply lying to yourself that you are it till you are it. – which explains why self deception is a terrible idea.

When the going gets tough, fake it till you make it.

Even though by faking it you won’t fully embody these traits, but by merely trying to embody them, you will figure out what it takes and how you will get there for real.

Bottom line

It is hard. it’s hard changing your life. It’s hard picking up the pieces and starting all over again.

les brown

The truth is – we re all fearfully and wonderfully made. We all have something in us that the world will benefit from, we are all empowered in so many ways, but the sad part is that we end up figuring this out late in life, which contributes greatly to our sadness and depression. Hence, that is how we are driven to hiding behind masks and struggling to fit in since we can’t afford to let ourselves be who we are.

Self awareness is where happiness begins and only through that will we get to be our best and get the most out of our talents and abilities.

I’d love to hear from you. Would you say you are a self-aware person? How do you see the role of self-awareness in your professional and personal life?

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

Footnotes

  1. Dweck CS. Can personality be changed? The role of beliefs in personality and change. 2008.
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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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