The core aspects of who you are and what you identify with are based on your personality. But what is personality really? If you open the dictionary, you’ll find that personality is defined by attributes that make up your character. But where do these attributes come from – Are they inherent? Passed down by loved ones? Something you create over time? Shaped by different experiences you face?
At the core, your personality is a little bit of everything—what you’ve inherited, what you’ve been taught, what you’ve discovered, and what you’ve been influenced by (both good and bad). These different factors mold the person you are and the person you’ll become. And each and every one of us is vastly (and beautifully) different.
But let’s break this down even further.
We all have different life experiences, different ways we’re raised, and different people who are biologically connected to us. This, on the most basic level, creates distinct and unique personalities.
Genetics make us predisposed to certain behaviors or traits. From high-strung to calm, extroverted to introspective (and everywhere in-between), our biology shapes us from the moment we’re born.
Carl Jung’s personality theory highlights what he calls our “Inborn” personality traits. What this means, is that we’re genetically inclined to act, think, and feel a certain way. He calls this our ‘innate characteristics,’ or ones that have been ‘imprinted’ on us as a result of evolution.
However, we’re not pigeon-holed or tied to our parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. As much as we’re connected and influenced unconsciously by our biological family, our personalities are not solely dependent upon this single factor.
Culture & Society
As we grow, our personalities will naturally shift based on outside influences. This is a matter of nature vs. nurture, an age-old debate of whether we are who we are because of our biology or because of how we were raised. For many psychology gurus—especially in the area of personality—we are a combination of both.
We are influenced by our ‘Inborn’ traits, but also by what we experience and encounter along our journeys.
For many, the aspects of culture can have a huge influence on who we are as people. For example, signs or symbols of a certain religion or belief system may grow in significance as you develop. Jung calls these ‘archetypes’ and they greatly influence our own understanding of the world, as well as our behavior.
We are also influenced by society. Think of the media and inundation of images—can you think of something you were inclined to purchase simply because of the advertisement or sales pitch? This is something that greatly (and often unconsciously) influences our personalities.
We tend to gravitate to what appeals to us. Whether this is a concept, a theme, or a brand, our interactions with society are shaped by appeal, by the influence of others, and by the development of our own moral compass.
We form opinions based upon what we understand. Education plays a huge role in this. The more we learn, the more opportunities we have to dissect and discover our own perspectives. It’s also with education that we discover some of our predispositions to different personality traits—organization, studiousness, procrastination—just to name a few.
As humans, we are always learning. This desire to learn and the impact our learning has on how we feel and what we think can shape our personality. If we go into fields of study that differ from our immediate family and friends we will also be shaped by this, and perhaps grow apart in some ways from the ones we love in order to form our own sense of self.
Trauma & Child Wounds
The formative years of our lives have a great influence on our personalities. (Back to the nature vs. nurture argument again!) According to Jung, what we’ve been conditioned to think or do—based on what’s happened to us when we were young—is the unconscious justification of our behavior later in life.
We return, subconsciously, to our childlike actions (especially when we’re stressed, angry, or sad). If we were prone to withdrawing when we were young, we’ll pull away. If we were quick to be mad or even physically violent, we will naturally have the urge to engage in that way.
Childhood wounds, and traumas in particular, can negatively impact our personalities by making us feel distanced, misunderstood, or rejected by people and situations we face later in life. And sometimes this isn’t the truth at all—it’s simply how we perceive it.
As humans, connection is at the forefront of every single interaction and sometimes, without even trying, our interactions have a direct influence on (and are a direct result of) our personalities.
Think about it this way: Have you ever dated someone who cheated on you? If so, you’re probably a bit more guarded now than you were at the beginning of the relationship. That person caused you to withdraw or be more hesitant when it comes to your trust and affection. Without even trying, your personality has been influenced by that relationship.
We are shifted and impacted by the people we let into our lives, by the relationships we make, and by the emotions we attach to these connections.
So what’s the big deal about personality?
Even if we feel ‘set’ or ‘grounded’ in the person we are, our personalities are always shifting.
However, on the flip side, if we don’t actively try to change the aspects of our personalities that are rooted in trauma or wounds, we’ll be prone to act or behave a certain way forever (and sometimes this doesn’t work in our favor).
The good thing about personality is that having insight into who we are and what makes us ‘tick’ is a key aspect to growing—individually and in our relationships.
Oftentimes, it’s hard to find your personality type. Many people have been mistyped for years. (Which is, unfortunately, pretty normal.) At Birdy, our goal is to bridge the gap between psychology and everyday life by making personality (and our understanding of it) accessible.
We know that the most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself, which is why we offer a FREE personality test to help you get to know yourself better. Once you know who you are, you can better understand who you’re compatible with on both a friendship and a romantic level.
Birdy is a personality compatibility app that helps you find connections based on what’s REAL. You can download the app for Android or iOS, and once you’ve discovered your personality type, you can learn more about who you are right here.