Are you an introvert or extrovert – a Choleric or Sanguine? What is your Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator? We all know someone who is very particular about stereotyping people based on these personality types and temperaments. A lot of people identify or even obsess about their personality type. It’s fun to compare and see which celebrities and friends have the same result as yours or who you share the same birthday with.
But the stereotypes are more powerful than the personality itself. And often, they could be more destructive than you’d think. I watch a YouTube video on How to stop being Shy and Quiet YouTube and found the comment section quite disheartening. It was filled with people talking about how personality stereotype practically ruined their young and adult lives. One Edward wrote, “All my life, I was told that I’m shy and too quiet… that did nothing but fed my shyness” Katie also wrote, “it just makes me feel defined and labeled. People won’t allow me or accept me to be any other way. It ruined my life in so many ways,” she said.
First of all, if you are one of those insensitive people; teachers, parents, or peers who go about labeling people by perceived temperament, you need to grow up. Secondly, if you have found yourself imprisoned by stereotype people had attached to you, and think you can’t be more than that, this video is for you. Hopefully, after watching this, you will start dissociating from those personality test stereotypes so that you can become your best confident self! Before we continue, be sure to subscribe to After School Africa for more insightful videos like this.
Your Personality is Not a Prison
I’ve found that you can try to teach people all the lessons and secrets about success. We can share all the information about opportunities all we want. But if the person it shared with has a self-limiting stereotype like a yoke on their neck, nothing is going to change in their life. This is why I find this particularly important to talk about.
I’ve held this belief that while each of us typically has inherent personalities and tend to behave more consistently in a certain way, personality is flexible and shouldn’t be a prison. It is this mindset that took me from being shy to speak to a group of people, to winning several speech competitions and mentoring other people to become better communicators; it’s the same mindset that compelled me to choose entrepreneurship over employment.
Personality tests are harmful when they keep you from reaching your full potential. You cling to what you think your personality is because it describes you so well. But that could be holding you back. The truth behind these tests is that they keep people from having a growth mindset. They make people think that this is who I am, have always been, and will always be. But that is false. You can give yourself the chance to improve and have a better life. We are more made up of our choices and decisions than our temperament. And people who achieve great things in life think of personality as flexible.
Interestingly, there are scientific and authority figures that agree to this. In his newly published book titled Personality Isn’t Permanent, Dr. Benjamin Hardy uses scientific objections and real-life stories to prove that personality is not permanent; or as a reviewer of the book puts it, ‘your personality is not a prison’. The book is predicated on the premise that people can break free from self-limiting beliefs and stereotypes, to rewrite their story. I’m going to be sharing some insight from the book.
5 Destructive Myths about Personality tests
Science and the many experiences that Hardy shares in the book prove that people can and do change. Here are five destructive myths about personality tests.
Myth 1: You can categorize personality into “types.”
Type-based personality tests aren’t scientific. It’s a gross misrepresentation of the complexity of what it means to be human to think we can categorize people into types.
Myth 2: Your personality is ingrained and unchangeable.
My friend got highly risk-averse in his corporate personality test after he lost tens of thousands of dollars in the previous year. That experience altered his personality. Research shows that your personality changes dramatically over the years depending on your situation and your environment. Think about who you were 10 or 15 years ago and you’ll realize how much you have changed.
Myth 3: What happened to you in the past determines your personality.
You think your personality is permanent because of past traumas, the identity people made you to think you have, your subconscious, and your environment. Our perception of historical events changes over time, so why can’t the way we think about ourselves?
Myth 4: You have to discover your personality.
George Bernard Shaw perfectly responds to this myth in this quote: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
Myth 5: Your personality test results describe who you really are.
This myth is destructive because trying to be supposedly “true to yourself” keeps you from being flexible and learning to change.
The Strongest Force in Human Nature
We all have an image of how we see ourselves. This is not who you see in the mirror but who you see in your mind. Take a moment to think about the results in your relationships, financial status, positions, physical appearance, and personal life; all these things are the result of the outer expression of your inner self-image. This is why having great ideas are not enough to change people’s lives. How you see yourself determines how you live your life. The majority of people are trapped in their own self-image and never really adapting. They are stuck in this image of ‘this is who I am’.
The strongest force in human nature is the need to remain consistent with how we see ourselves. We all act consistently with who we believe we are. The image that we hold of ourselves controls how much we demand from life in every areas of our lives. If you want to change your life, don’t ask ‘what should I do?’ Instead, ask ‘who do I have to be to have the life I want?’
Immense Yourself in Real-Life Experiences
Experience builds confidence. The more challenging experiences you overcome, the more self-confidence you become. Robert Kiyosaki said he joined the army to build his courage, and later moving into sales to overcome his shyness and fear of rejection. I can relate to that, though not the army part. Having to spend my teenage life 1,000kilometers away from home in boarding school and spending the holidays with my tough, old-fashioned grandmother, built me into the resilient young man I’ve become. I had to farm, fetch firewood, fetch water from the stream, set traps for birds, bats, and squirrels, and do all those stuff people do in the village. It wasn’t a pleasant experience at the time, but I were to go back in time, I’ll do it all over again.
In my business life, I started by selling items from office to office and at trade shows to overcome my fear of selling and shyness. I’ve freelanced and started businesses across different industries at different points just for the experience. Experience is the strongest weapon you need to build your confidence and forge yourself into the person you desire to be. It will not be easy. You’ll have to push yourself for the most part of it. But it will be worth it. We are products of our choices and decisions not of our temperament.
Choose a Vision Way above Your Current Reality
You may have lowered your expectations, and try to be more realistic and reasonable because of the negative experiences you’ve had in the past. Note this; the only thing special about people who transform themselves and their lives is how they view their own future. They refuse to be defined by their past. They see something different and more meaningful in their future that other people don’t see and they never stop fueling that vision. Goals are the path to vision. Goals drive every decision you make.
Follow these four steps from Dr. Hardy’s book to help you identify the future you want.
Step 1: Carefully analyze the future you don’t realize that you’ve consigned yourself to. Imagine what your life will be like if you keep your current reality for the next decade. Are you satisfied with who you’ll become? Are you comfortable keeping your current reality?
Step 2: Write or envision your own biography as if you had already lived your whole life. What were the major events in your life? How do people remember my life? What were your accomplishments?
Step 3: Imagine what your future self is like three years from now. What is a typical day like? What’s your work like? How are you different than you are now?
Step 4: Tell your new story, to others and yourself, as if it was already your reality. Take back that power from people and start writing your own *damn* story. I recommend you read Personality Isn’t Permanent by Dr. Benjamin Hardy. It will shatter your long-held beliefs that you’re stuck as yourself, by identifying why the person you are is changeable and giving you specific and actionable steps to change. I hope you found this video helpful. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!