Tuesday, 7 April 2009
You have PERSONALITY!
In the title of that famous song, ‘You’ve Got Personality’, lies a basic truth i.e. you’ve ‘got’ personality! In other words your personality is not you. It is not what you are, it’s what you’ve got. More accurately it’s what you have created.
This is good news because many believe they are stuck with their personality and believe it can’t be changed. On the contrary it can. Is there something within your personality that you don’t particularly like which seems to surface in your behaviour without your permission?
Would you like to change it?
From 'whatever' or 'oh really?' or 'uh uh'?
Do you find some people occasionally letting you know there is an aspect of your personality that doesn’t quite…suit you? Like any old suit, it can be changed!
Some people insist you cannot change your personality, that you are born with it and it is part of your ‘genetic inheritance’. They either truly believe this ‘learned belief’ or they use it to avoid the work of changing something within their personal portfolio of habits. It’s an easy belief system to refute. Take a moment and look back on your own life and see what has changed within your personality.
Perhaps you used to be carefree and never worried, but now you do.
Perhaps you never used to react angrily to certain events, but now you do, and perhaps have done for some time.
So what’s changed within you? Have you ever noticed a change within the personality of another? Nothing is more startling than watching almost overnight changes within most teenagers personalities when they realise they don’t have to follow orders from the commanders and controllers whom they encounter every morning around the kitchen table!
When it comes to making changes to your personality anything is possible.
Because your personality is simple a tapestry of traits, tendencies and habits that you have created by your actions in the past. Many are copied from parents or childhood heroes, others are forged in the company of peer groups at school, and many have been influenced by the media dominant environment in which we all now live. These traits, tendencies and habits are living records within our consciousness that are stimulated into life either consciously or subconsciously by some external trigger event. But it is a mistake to think that any particular trait, or cluster of tendencies, is actually you. The creator is not the creation.
The origins of each strand in the invisible fabric of your personality may lie at the level of your thoughts and actions, or even deeper, at the level of your attachments and beliefs. Any effective method of meditation or contemplation, when practiced regularly, will allow you to see the true origin or ‘true cause’ of any trait. But how do you change what may seem like the habit of a lifetime? Here’s how. Select a habit you would like to be free of.
For example, do you ever find yourself reactively judging and condemning others? It’s a common habit today as we are intensively exposed to the medias interpretations and judgments of others. It’s easy to allow this habit to grow and not notice that whenever you judge and condemn another you lose your peace and only create suffering for your self in the process. But it’s not quite enough to know which tendency you would like to atrophy. What would be a new trait worth replacing the old habit with? What would be a better response to the same events, which would not generate this stress and discomfort for your self, look like? Compassion is perhaps the more appropriate, definitely kinder, not to mention stress free response.
So let’s say you have decided you would like to be free of the particular trait of judgment/condemnation and you would prefer to respond with greater compassion. The creation of anything at any level requires energy. To put more light into a room requires more electricity to pass into the light bulb, or more light bulbs. To create compassion as a strand in your cloak of many colours, your personality, also requires an input of energy. Unfortunately not the kind of energy you will find in the electrical socket or on the beach in Spain.
First we need to create the blueprint of compassion as an idea. Where? On the screen of our mind, the arena of all that we create. It is the canvas upon which you will create your life. What are the essential component parts of compassion?
Empathy, understanding, acceptance and respect would be a good framework upon which to ‘grow’ our new compassionate tendency.
As yet these components are only just ideas, and have no real power in our life to affect any change to the old and well-established reactionary habit of condemnation. Where will we find that power to make the components of compassion come to life within our consciousness, and then in our behaviour? The primary source of real, creative, transformative power in all our lives life is our own heart. Not our physical heart, but the heart of the self , the heart of our consciousness.
We are all already there but mostly not aware of it. Distracted by the world we lose our awareness that we are in permanent residence in our heart, and have instant access to its power whenever we need it. That’s why it is necessary to take some ‘time out’ and restore our awareness and our connection to our inner power. Otherwise we tend not to live ‘from’ the heart and so the power ‘of’ our heart is not as available to us as often as it could be. It is only from there that we can generate the energy to create the compassionate response by empowering and ‘enlivening’ the framework of compassion as follows.
The core component of compassion is unbreakable respect for the other. Not easy in a world that often seems bereft of mutual respect. In our heart of hearts there is a core truth that we tend to forget, and that’s the idea that every human being is innately good and worthy. Reconnecting with the power of this truth restores the ability to see past the weaknesses and mistakes of others and into their heart where their goodness, their worth, always resides, regardless of their history. Just as ours does, regardless of our history!
Then comes acceptance which is our wisdom saying, “I may not agree with them, and I may not condone what they have done, but I accept them as they are, I accept what is done is done, now how can we go forward together, as one, not separately as the judge and the judged”?
Then comes understanding which is our wisdom acknowledging the fact that everyone makes mistakes and mistakes can be corrected.
And finally empathy is the capacity to be sensitive to the others emotional state without being swamped by or recreating the others emotions. Not easy in a world where we tend to learn that it’s only when you share another’s pain i.e. recreate their emotional pain within your self, that you are able to empathise them. But that’s not empathy, it’s sympathy, it’s feeling sorry for the other and that doesn’t help them or us. It easily becomes another debilitating habit
Each of the four components of compassion requires attention and actualization, first intellectually (in theory) and then mentally (the beginning of practice) on the screen of your mind as we visualise our self bringing each component to life in relation to the other.
All the while the old habit of judgment/condemnation will be kicking at the door wondering why we have tried to shut it out. It’s in those moments that the art of ignoring the old habit requires another energy along side the wisdom of our heart i.e. the power of determination, some perseverance and of course our old friend patience.
So there you have it – how to change an old deep seated habit within the fabric of your personality in six simple steps.
Easy really! If only!
Question: Select a trait or tendency within your personality that you would like to ‘atrophy’ and a new trait that you would like to replace it with. (Oh really? - yes!)
Reflection: Take a moment to explore why you think that old trait comes to life so often. Can you see a cause, an origin, contributing factors?
Action: Create a framework of the components/aspects of the new trait and then meditate/contemplate upon each one allowing them to come to life within your consciousness as they are nourished by the power of your heart.