For the most part, what you and others see as your ‘personality’ relates largely to the way you present yourself and the feedback you get. So, if I go around without washing the response I get will generally be disgust. In that way I will become ‘a disgusting person’ although I can easily change that by using some hygiene.
The way you project yourself on to others is also related to your confidence in your own abilities. If you regularly practice speaking to strangers you will gain confidence in your conversational skills. You will therefore be less likely to be labelled as having a ‘shy’ personality and more likely to be labelled as an ‘extrovert’.
Here are some tried and tested ways of changing the way you present to others (meaning I have tested them myself and found that they work).
1. Change your job.
The most dramatic example of this was when I gave up my banking career in 1990 and became a therapist. Almost overnight I changed from being a de-pressed, suit-wearing, routine-bound wanker-banker to a guy that wore yellow trousers!
2. Do something that is ‘just not like you’.
I wrote something about this on my last blog Reverse Personality. This is about dropping habitual ways of being and experimenting with the opposite set of behaviors. So if you ‘never dance’ then do just that. If you are ‘impatient’, slow down. If you find it hard to show love to others then practice.
To some extent your parents establish and reconfirm your false personality. If they thought you were the ‘sporty’ type, or ‘the reliable one’, or ‘the family show-off’ then chances are that that is what you became. When I left home at 19 I quickly realised that the way my parents often saw me had become, in some ways, a self-imposed limitation. The same applies to the perceptions you accept from your partners, your friends, and your children. There’s a great Bette Davis movie about this called Now Voyager, in which she transforms from a mother-dominated, neurotic frump to a sex siren!
4. Learn a new language.
Because each language carries a different way of thinking (based on the words and grammar unique to that language), the use of the mouth and vocal chords, and the expressions that go with it, this is one of the fastest ways to change that I know. Works still better if you live and work there. I discovered this even when I moved to New York for six months a while ago. Although the words were similar – the differences in grammar, intonation and meaning were very powerful.
5. Change the way you dress
That includes the way you dress when you are by yourself and the way you dress outdoors. Remember, what you see in the mirror subtly changes the way you project yourself to others.
6. Acquire new skills
The list could run from assertiveness training through to art, car mechanics, poetry, cooking, meditation, or sexual techniques. Different skills entail different behaviors….which lead to new experiences and new kinds of feedback from others. They will also raise your so-called ‘self-esteem’ – which is just another way of describing the way you present to others.
7. Develop your personal ‘genius‘
This has to do with making the most of your innate character – the tastes, skills, talents – and the individual mission you were born with. When you become what you were truly meant to be, it radiates through your eyes. But I will write more about this ‘genius’ in my next blog.
8. Have a nervous breakdown
This solution is a little drastic but it could be the most effective of the lot if you can stand the temporary disorientation.
All that is really meant by having a nervous breakdown is that you have lost your ego – the scripted, routine personality you have over-identified with. It typically happens when your deepest feelings and desires are completely out of sync with the life others expect you to live, so that you end up de-pressing who you really are. The resulting crisis leads to an uprush of powerful emotions which sweep away the false self and enable you to be born anew.
(By the way. you don’t have to have a breakdown to be reborn. Practicing new ways of being each and every day will remove the necessity for that, unless you are the religious type).