Every person on this earth has a unique personality. There exist a plethora of similarities as well as differences between two persons, and the latter is what makes everyone unique in their own way. The similarities people wrongly call personality types when, in reality, terms like introverts, extroverts, and alpha behavior are personality traits. Everyone’s personality is made up of a lot of sometimes similar and sometimes starkly contrasting personality traits that combine with the environmental factors to form one personality type.
It is true, however, that people can be categorized based on how these personality traits combine with each other to decide how people primarily act and react in varied situations that they face. With time we learn new personality traits and unlearn some of the old ones. But can a person change their personality type in the process of changing the superset of their personality traits?
That would be a no.
Let me explain why.
Our brain is similar to a Russian Matryoshka doll. You know the little dolls that, if opened, have another little doll inside them, then another and another? Our brain is just like that. When we are conceived as a fetus, the most primitive part of our brain, whose function is just to keep us alive and healthy, is formed first. With time the brain grows, and on top of the older part, new ones grow. The primitive part becomes Cerebellum and Medulla Oblongata, which as some of the science students, would now continue playing the same survival function as earlier. The newly grown parts on top of the Cerebellum and brain stem, constitute together what we call Cerebrum.
This topmost and comparatively newest part of the brain is what most of us normally identify as its pictorial representation. Made up of white matter and divided into distinct lobes with dedicated but overlapping functionalities, Cerebrum has small parts dedicated to specific bodily systems like Hippocampus, Pituitary gland, etc. The Cerebrum is the part of the brain that performs the actual human-like functions like thinking, memory storage, and retrieval, visual processing, and input and output of sensory data. The newest part of Cerebrum, in fact, is the Pre-frontal cortex that is often called the RAM of human brain owing to its several levels deep thought processing and involvement in making complex rational decisions.
Okay, but does that mean that we can use this several layers deep consciousness to change our personality according to our whims and fancies? Before that let’s ask a different question. What do you mean by “changing your personality type”?
When we normally say we want to change our personality, we are not really referring to our personality, are we? See, we have a base personality that is formed as a result of the experiences of our infant years, including when we are in the womb. These experiences, along with some base animal instincts, become hardwired inside the primitive part of our brain with time. Whatever we do, we can’t change this base personality of ours because it is, as I said, hardwired inside us. If, for instance, someone prefers to be alone and go out according to his/her mood and not need, we will till death remain so.
But that doesn’t make sense, does it? If we don’t change, then how do we grow in the proverbial as well as literal terms?
The answer to that question is that with time, what changes are our conscious response to external stimuli. Our internal reaction remains the same, we just learn to change our external reaction based on what we want to achieve out of the situation. Let me explain in simple terms. Let’s say you were an angry child and liked to dominate children in the playground. When you grow up, you will remain the same, and whenever you get the chance, you will feel a need to donate and control your surroundings. But what you will learn with time and experience is that not every situation is made to be dominated. Sometimes you need to take a step back and learn to let go. Similarly, an introverted personality with time determines that to live an eventful life, he or she must interact with the outside world.
People don’t change their personality type. They build a new layer of personality traits on their base personality, followed by another one and then another one. With time, many such layers are added on top of the base personality so that one’s reactions suit the expectations society has with them.
Now even though it is quite difficult, people can change or essentially mold this complicated structure of personality traits by removing a few layers picked up along the way. But it is close to impossible to change your base personality. The base personality is the anchor that keeps us rooted to sanity. It is something that has been with us since we were born and will remain till we die. It is the existential truth that we all believe in subconsciously. If we try to tamper with something so foundational, it is bound to be not only challenging but also inadvisable.
If we try to change a belief that someone has kept for five years, we quite often receive a significant whiplash and massive resistance. How then can we believe that we can change the base personality that we have been nurturing all our life?
Trying to change your base personality is like trying to burn the house that you are living in just because you don’t like the patio.
So unless you remove a part of your brain, you can’t change your personality type. What you can do is change how you react to your surroundings. If you are angry inherently, you can try putting a claiming influence on top of that angry instinct. If you think you are too gullible and are trust people easily, you can add a devil’s advocate plus a pinch of a mean streak to that trusting nature.
After all, that is the difference between animals and us; we can consciously change our behavior. The monster will always be inside you. You just have to keep it from coming out at the wrong time.
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