How Your Personality Works
The Nature of Your Personality
Your personality is an extremely complex set of habits. It is the gestalt or the overall programmed and organized structure of all your habits of how you act in certain situations, how you feel in response to different types of events, how you think in reaction to these situations and even how you perceive any given situation. Whether or not you perceive a dog as man’s best friend or as a vicious killer is a mental habit; and all the ways you perceive any person, event or situation is also a mental habit.
Experts in human behavior have estimated that the human being has about 60,000 thoughts a day. However, we simply recycle the same thoughts and the same thought patterns every day. Our mental apparatus is constantly evaluating, organizing, and categorizing our life experiences and comparing our current situation to past experiences using the pattern recognition software that we have developed over the years. Specific constellations of thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and fears are constantly getting activated in our brain. When the mailman sees a dog, for example, a whole constellation of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and possibly fears from past situations get activated in predictable patterns according to how you’ve developed your personality.
When events and situations occur that trigger our fears, predictable reactions occur in our psyche on behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and perceptual levels. These predictable reactions create our repeating cycles of conflict, produce the specific results in our lives and determine the quality of the relationships and life experiences that happen in our lives.
Personality Development and Core Issues
In our growing years we develop the ideas and beliefs, as well as the mental and emotional habits that form the fundamental basis of our personality. Our personality then becomes an automatic mechanism that functions in a predictable, repetitive and habitual manner. When we have intensely emotional, difficult or traumatic experiences in our lives that we don’t know how to understand and integrate as we are growing up, we suppress or ignore the memories and/or the intensity of our negative feelings just so we can function normally in the world. This emotional suppression creates anxiety which becomes our core fears that affect our behavior, our functioning, and our relationships.
The repeating patterns of conflict or conflict avoidance in our interpersonal interactions with significant others also influence our development. Our parents, primary caregivers, and significant others bring their emotional baggage to their relationships which then influences how they interact with us as we are developing. Children learn from their primary caregivers and significant others by modeling and by reacting to these relationships to get their needs met. Consequently, as children we unconsciously pick up healthy and dysfunctional emotional and mental habits from our parents, caretakers, siblings, and the significant others in our lives.
In essence, our caretakers and significant others pass on their core emotional issues to us by the repetitive habits of their parenting behavior and interactions with us. These interactions influence our development and train us to recreate the family cycles of conflict in our own way. We develop socially and emotionally in reaction to our social environment and our primary caregivers. How we reacted to our caregivers and the significant people in our lives as we were developing creates the habitual patterns of thinking, feeling, perceiving and behaving that we call our personality. These patterns of behavior determine the repeating cycles of conflict in our lives and control the repeating drama of our life story.