Do you know people with(out) personality?

I hear often that some people have personality and others don’t. It sounds like a harmless comment, but many are affected by its impact and live their lives feeling insecure and inadequate.

Psychology tells us that that all people have their own personality as a way of thinking and behaving that makes them individuals and somehow different to the others. Our observations will also show us that all people develop their own way of being as they go through life.

Yet, we categorize people, a tendency deeply rooted in our human minds, and by doing that we reinforce a set of desired behaviours which put a lot of pressure on us all.

We think of people “with personality” as “outgoing”, more “pleasant”, “vocal”, “original”, and we seem to find them popular. Those that are more “reserved”, less “talkative” or “private”, are perceived as “bland”, “annoying” or “boring” and will be excluded. But how did we get here?

Our manifested personality is only a social persona

If we look back in history, we see that different human qualities have been valued from an era to another, and what is nowadays perceived as socially acceptable might not have been a norm decades or centuries ago.

Those that have lived to know the world three or four decades ago will remember that life was more relaxed and there was less pressure on individuals to fit a social profile or another at that time.

Technology has changed the world significantly and the fast communication channels and social media have created many trends that continue to contribute massively to how we look at the human personality nowadays.

In a time when being loud and highly shocking sometimes gains attention, there is no surprise that people who embrace a quieter demeanor are classed as lacking personality, nor that those with bubbling personalities are expected to consistently deliver on that.

What we sometimes forget is that the manifested personality is not necessarily our natural way of being but a social persona, and the more distance we put between them two, the less connected with ourselves we become.

The sour taste of awakening

Full of energy and social, or withdrawn and isolated, these are behaviours we all have the ability to display, both naturally and artificially. What seems to be common to all of us is the sense of pressure and distress we experience in facing this demanding world around us.

Can you remember a time when you saw someone adopting trends in thinking and behaviour that were in clear conflict with their values, only to present themselves in a more digestible package to others or to gain some benefits? I am sure I can think of at least one time when that happened to me and probably it happened to you as well.

It is true that the expectations for humans have changed over times, but the human being has not changed that much. Essentially, we all want to belong and be liked, accepted and valued by others.

When we work with ourselves and we connect with who we really are within, we often find that our social persona is a bit different than our real self. That helps us understand ourselves and others better, but it also brings disappointment and awakening.

It can be painful to realize that for a while or for longer time we lived disconnected from who we were in order to connect with whom we were expected to be. That disharmonious way of living can have great implications on our wellbeing and our quality of life.

4 steps towards becoming more authentic

Now, how can we prevent or repair this gap between who we are and who we think we should be?

Firstly, we can become aware that the world around us has a very powerful influence on us and will continue to shape us despite our resistance. Checking regularly on what we think and how we behave, and understanding what led to that way of being can bring awareness and enlightenment.

Secondly, we can accept that there is no right or wrong in being a certain way or another, and acknowledge that we are all different, but also very similar in our personalities, and that we can retain our originality and naturalness.

Thirdly, we can accept ourselves as we are and make adjustments if we feel changing might enhance our existence and not for the sake of being liked and validated.

Lastly, we can think outside the box and understand that the misconception we hold within about human personality is not an exception and, extrapolating, it might relate to other topics. At a larger scale, when such ideas penetrate our mentality as a society, they will integrate in what we hold as “truths” and will be passed onto the next generations. This will see our children and grandchildren develop even more extreme views on the desired human personality which can reinforce intolerance and division instead of embracing our nature and appreciating human diversity as it is.

Testing your prejudice now

To move this into a more practical perspective, take a look around you and find someone whose personality you think you might not like that much. Explore if this feeling belongs to you personally or has been instilled in you by the world around you.

Ask yourselves how well you know this person, what might they think of the world, how might they feel within themselves and imagine what could make them become like that. Try to see if you can separate their social persona from who they really are inside.

In the event your vibe towards them has changed, be proactive and engage with that person. Tell them something positive about their personality, something to touch their soul and remind them how special they are.

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