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Know Yourself: Can You Change Your Stripes?

Updated on March 17, 2021
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Among his varied other writing interests, Richard Parr aspires to creating interesting and inspiring stories about life.

What Makes You, You? And Can You Change?

Whether you like it or not, you have a personality. One that predisposes you to a certain way or method of doing things. A modus operandi of likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, cares and concerns.

Does that mean you've been pigeon holed? That you can't change?

Well, yes and no.

Experts agree that by the end of childhood, and normally long before, our personality is formed—a product of genetic inheritance and earliest influences. From that point on it will be a key determiner of those life experiences we struggle with, and those we don't.

Severe trauma seems to be the exception to this fixed-persona theory. Extreme stress, pain or difficulty frequently changes people at a core level; though not necessarily in ways they'd desire or anticipate. For example, trauma can change a predisposition of extroversion to one of extreme introversion.

However, experts also agree that personality is not character.


Personality involuntarily reacts internally to stimuli.

Personality determines how we initially get affected by any given situation or experience. It sets the response that is first felt, or first comes to mind.

For example, certain personality types respond to argument with immediate unease and want to back away. Others with affront and a desire to debate.


Character voluntarily reasons through to a response.

Character, is the reasoning we adopt that decides the course of action we will take through any given situation or experience. Using the previous example, those unsettled by argument could reason in line with their predisposition and decide to sacrifice truth on the alter of peace. Or, they could reason against their predisposition and decide to sacrifice peace instead.

Character, then, helps us determine whether our personality-prone reaction is appropriate, needs amending or is improper. For example, someone's initial –predisposed– response to danger may be to flee, however it is their character which determines whether they will warn others of the danger first.

Depths of Character

So it is our personality that predisposes us to certain strengths and weaknesses, but it is our character that will determine the level we choose to operate at.

Personality is like a pool of water. It presents at its surface a simple thoughtless reflection of what it perceives. Sometimes what it mirrors is accurate, often it is not, but it determines our initial internal response.

Young children operate at this level almost exclusively.

But there are depths to that pool, and we have opportunity as we age to plumb those depths of our nature.

Mastering Ourselves

With time and introspection we can come to recognise when our predispositions are presenting deceiving reflections, and we can learn to master them.

Full enlightenment normally takes a lifetime experience alongside a discerning mindset. But in the absence of such, it is character that will keep us from falling prey to the weaknesses of our temperaments, while making the most of its strengths.

But what is required to operate at such a depth of Character?

We'll address that question is Part 2

Our personalities can sometimes distort reality
Our personalities can sometimes distort reality

Take The Personality Test

The personality test below is adapted from Des Hunts fun and easy to read personality profiling book titled, What makes people Tick.

He divides people's personalities into a unique combination of bird types; Eagle, Peacock, Owl & Dove.

Although we are a mixture of many personality traits, Hunt teaches that we have a primary and secondary type that predominates.

The test below will determine your primary personality 'bird' type. For a complete profile I highly recommend his website resources.

Your Primary Personality Type

view quiz statistics


On the Contextual Independence of Personality Christopher S. Nave, University of California, Riverside, Department of Psychology

Personality vs. Character Alex Lickerman, M.D. Former Director of Primary Care University of Chicago

What makes people Tick Des Hunt, International speaker, trainer, and consultant

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Richard Parr


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    • parrster profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Parr 

      7 years ago from Australia

      @Frank ~ Thanks for the votes. As a writer, I think understanding this subject helps instil realism into characters. From what I've read of your stories, you have a great depth of insight into people.

      @Audrey ~ Glad you found it interesting and appreciate you sharing.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      Fascinating stuff! Passing this on!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      7 years ago from Shelton

      actually I found this hub useful as well as informative.. voted up and shared

    • parrster profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Parr 

      7 years ago from Australia

      @MsDora ~ Thanks for the votes. I have always been a bit fascinated by personality, and how it influences us so dramatically in life.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      7 years ago from The Caribbean

      Will come back for the personality test, but voting the article up and useful. Very good explanations on personality and character. Thank you.


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