This article is to explore and test the concept of altering the personality through changes of habitual patterns for the purpose of attaining emotional freedom from fears and inhibitions, resulting in healthy self-esteem.
This is the first article in a short series about the relationship between habits and personality, and how to effect permanent, positive changes to ones personality through working with habits.
This first article will give the background on habits in respect to this principle and the relationship to personalty.
The method of changing habits is perhaps the easiest and most effective way to refine and change ones life.
All good and bad in our life is due to our personality, who we are as an individual. This is because our personality determines how we behave and the resulting ways people react to us.
Your personality is a collection of habits. Most of our life experiences are limited, or expanded, by our habits. For example, if you have a habitual pattern for when you wake up, if you need to brush your teeth, have a shower, do certain things you like to do, and for that you require the comforts of your own home, then you may be reluctant to travel, or not have a good time travelling. There will be resistance to different environments, and so a fear of travel or at least a limit of where you are willing to travel to will limit your experiences and direct knowledge.
There are habits for every aspect of our life. Eating, sleeping, walking, health related, and more importantly; communication, relationships and working habits.
An example of a communication habit, which will effect your relationships, is if when having a conversation, you always cut people off in mid-sentence, always interrupting. Or you may always contradict what anyone says to show you know more than they do.
Perhaps you are always justifying your mistakes and actions, never admitting when you are wrong. Or, you are a compulsive liar.
You may communicate in a way that you never say anything about yourself, and always just ask questions because you think that makes people feel better around you, but in fact it is because you do not want to open up and make a connection. You may agree with anything anyone says, and flip flop showing no opinions of your own.
These are just some examples of habits but you will find your own as we progress in this series. Not all habits are bad. We have many good habits, but again, the point at this stage is to establish that our personality is a collection of habitual, and thus learnt and formed, behaviour. Once we openly see that we are formed, then we can change any habit.
Conversely, you may have a habit of trying new things, perhaps you travel each year to a new country so you can experience new foods and cultures. Or you may have a habit of talking to new people randomly, and making new friends.
Our life experiences are determined by our habits. Habits perpetuate fears and limitations, or they can enhance our life experiences.
Now we come to the point, which is, how to improve our personality. Everyone has some flaws in their personality that they do not like which are self-destructive or limiting, and want to change, but do not know how.
The problem is that many methods are dealing with the leaves on the tree instead of the roots. If you look at the character trait, rather than the mechanical function of how the mind works to perpetuate it, it is like cutting the leaves to kill the tree, new leaves will grow back.
My proposition is that the personality is a collection of habits, and by changing any and many habits, we can change the entire personality. The analogy is that the personality is the leaves rather than the core of our being, and the psychological function of how habits are developed and maintained is the root of the problem.
By working on the root, habits, things can permanently change. The root in our method is the basis of how humans function, which is robotically and habitually, but yet unaware of this purely mechanical function. If you don’t know it’s broken or what the real source is, you cannot fix a problem.
Many character traits are simply acquired by the process of natural human development from birth by observation and imitation. There is no negative reason behind some habits, they just form due to your being raised a certain way, such as the use of fingers or cutlery when eating, even the way which one holds ones cutlery. Or, if you are Malaysian, you use a fork and spoon but do not use a knife, for example.
There is nothing inherently wrong with using a fork and spoon and not be able to use a knife. This is an example of a neutral habit, and one that is perfect to change. Not all habits are good or bad or formed to meet some subconscious purpose.
Some habits are just cultural and form you into who you are. And this is the key, that they are formed without any conscious thought about being good, bad or relevant, and if there is a better way.
We can all change and no longer live in the limitations of outdated methods or principles to which their purpose has degraded over generations of mindless repetition. You have a choice, if you put in the effort to change what you have been formed into, you can become more than just a normal human.
Speed of Change
Children learn fast because they do not have habits. Adults learn slowly because they are full of habits. Habits limit learning because any new information has to pass through the preexisting habitual behaviour.
An example of the limitation to learning is if one interrupts others mid-sentence, they never hear a full explanation of things, and thus only learn half, or perhaps nothing. If you do this or know someone who does, you will also know that many mistakes are made due to someone working with partial information. Ninety percent of arguments could be avoided by the correction of this single habit.
Open Your Mind
To open your mind and overcome all negative qualities, we can use the approach of eliminating all habits, right down to the way you brush your teeth or which hand holds the fork and knife.
It is actually quite a simple thing to do, merely, do anything and everything differently, as long as it does not cause harm. For example, you would not want to start driving a car with your eyes closed instead of looking around. But you may want to start paying more attention when driving to continually check the wing and rearview mirrors and not just look in front of you, so you have a constant awareness of what is near your car.
As your habits change, so will your personality. At this point, you may resist this concept with the thought that your personality may change for the worse. The answer is in the comparison of an adult to a child. Just look at people of all ages and compare the energy, facial expressions, vibrance which shows their overall joy for life, and you will find the younger the person, the brighter they are.
We can all have that same youthful joy through very old age by simply returning to this one difference. To have, or not to have, as many habits as possible.
The process begins with the following exercise.
For the next 2 or 3 weeks, list every habit you have.
When you notice a habit, just put it on a list. There is nothing more to do at this point, just list them.
Examples of habits are detailed above and some other examples are:
Always have a coffee first thing in the morning.
When you wake up, you have a sort of ritual, the things you do in a specific order before you do anything else.
The way you eat, any eating habits.
How do you converse. Do you interrupt people when they talk, or have any other consistent reaction during conversations?
Any tiny little habit, or big habit is to be discovered and noted.
For more information about yourself, you can ask anyone close to you what they notice you do habitually.