Personality is a Moving Target

February 4, 2019

Are you really who you think you are?


A lot of us think that we are our personality, but our personality isn't as fixed as we might think it is.


My understanding is that while we are born with a certain temperament, many aspects of our personality are just ideas, or beliefs, about ourselves that are reinforced over and over again throughout our lives.


We come to see ourselves in a certain way and hold on to that vision of ourselves with a fair amount of rigidity.


Recently a coach challenged me to pick a simple but deeply held belief about myself and shift it. I chose to focus my experiment on my belief that I am an introvert.


I’ve always seen myself as an introvert (even before I knew there was a word for it). As a kid, I was the one avoiding family gatherings so that I could hang out in my bedroom and read. I was quiet, reserved, able to entertain myself easily, and rarely sought attention.


As an adult, I'm greedy about my alone time. I tend to experience a “get-me-out-of-here” feeling after being around people for any extended time.


And yet, I recall a time in my life when I totally lived as an extrovert…for years. And I loved it! It wasn’t just that I was more social and outgoing, I actually gained energy being around people, lots of people, almost all of the time.


Knowing that this other side of me existed made it easier for me to see how I have been reinforcing my introverted tendencies and even using them as an excuse. I had created a self-limiting belief around introversion. By clinging to my sense of myself as an introvert I was blocking myself from all sorts of opportunities.


Once I made the decision to play with the idea that I could just as easily extrovert as introvert, I had so much fun with it. I said yes to things I would have typically said no to. 


This weekend I was at a mind-training retreat with a group of people. I thought about doing my 'normal-introverted-thing' and attending some sessions while skipping others in order to get a break from so much people-time. But I decided I was willing to go all in, and show up 100% for the entire event. I got so much more out of it.


AND not only did the retreat allow me to dispute my claims of introversion, I was able to challenge some other beliefs about myself like "I'm not a morning person" and "I have to eat certain types of food at certain times". 


I can be a morning person! I actually loved driving to the event as the sun was rising. There's a different energy about the early morning that I had forgotten about as someone who avoids waking up early. And I can be flexible in my eating! I ate some grain-y type foods that I wouldn't normally have chosen and I enjoyed every bite. 


Isn't it freeing to not just be a certain way? Doesn't it feel good to have the flexibility to be able to choose who you are in any given moment?


I am now committed to becoming a more expanded version of myself 💚


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