Have you always seen yourself as an introvert? Maybe you’ve never been able to lose weight and get fit. Do you struggle with public speaking? Are you labelled the office clown, but really want to be taken seriously? Sometimes we can get into ruts, thinking that’s just who we are. That these traits are part of our personality and always will be.
Think again. According to organisational psychologist Benjamin Hardy, that just isn’t true. It might not be easy, but you can change your personality. Want to know more about what he says? Then read on to learn three concepts from ‘Personality Isn’t Permanent’ by Benjamin Hardy.
Personality isn’t a Fixed Entity
Benjamin Hardy says you only have to consider how you behave in different situations in order to undermine the premise that your personality is a fixed entity. For example, I am sure that the version of you that your grandmother sees is very different to the person who goes out with your friends on a Saturday night. Compare who you are at home with your children to the you that arrives at the office every morning. According to Benjamin Hardy the problem with the traditional approach is that it leads people to have a fixed mindset about themselves, rather than realising that they are able to make changes.
I believe that seeing personality as a fixed entity can lead to self-limiting beliefs, a concept that I learnt from the life coach Natalie Bacon. If you have a rigid view of yourself and your skills, you may use that to justify why you can’t adapt to new situations. For example, I will always be overweight, I will never be good at maths, I’m a procrastinator. These are unnecessary ways of labelling yourself which will limit your future and your personal development.
The past does not have to predict the future
I work in the area of behaviour change. One of the statements I hear often is that ‘the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour’. Benjamin Hardy says that this doesn’t need to be the case. If you are committed to making choices and sticking by those choices then you can change your life.
He says that within society there is the belief that your life is pre-determined and that you don’t have choices. This is not true. As I talk about in this post, you can decide on the type of person that you want to become and make choices that lead you to grow into that person. Instead of wondering where you’ll be in five years’ time, decide where you want to be and make a plan for how you’re going to get there.
We define ourselves by past traumas instead of dealing with them and moving on
Why are some people forever defined by what has happened to them in the past, yet others manage to deal with past trauma and move on?
Benjamin Hardy refers to a section in the book ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael Singer in which a woman gets a thorn in her arm. Instead of getting it removed she changes her whole life to avoid anything ever touching the thorn. She lives a restricted life in the long term instead of going through the short-term pain of removing the thorn.
We all have thorns in our lives, some more so than others. You need to remove those thorns. Either through therapy, help from your family or just by reframing your childhood. Then you can move forward.
your future self
It is all about developing a picture of the person you want to be in the future and then working out a roadmap of how you’re going to get there. If you have a purpose, a goal or a vision of your future you can align your daily choices with this. You can then move closer to your end goal, whether that’s losing weight, starting a business or just being a calmer human being.
Want to hear more from Benjamin Hardy himself? Listen to him being interviewed by Paula Pant on the Afford Anything podcast.
Want to learn more about life coaching and how to design your life? Why not check out ‘Grow You’, Natalie Bacon’s life coaching programme (affiliate link).