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Is it possible to change your personality? ...or is it determined by your genes?

Is it possible to change your personality?
Or is it determined by your genes?

One of the most common misconceptions people have about the psychology of personality is that a persons personality is fixed and cannot be changed (Check out my article “I hate my personality! Can I change it!” for more information on this).

Many people think this is because a persons personality is encoded in that persons genes. They think that it’s built in like software is in a computer …and that it can’t be changed.

Not true!

Now, while a persons genes do play a small part in the makeup of their personality, the reality is that this is so small as to make it insignificant.

Tell me more…

The reality is that the vast majority of a persons personality is formed as a result of outside factors in the persons life such as:

  • Their upbringing
  • Values and beliefs they adopt
  • Their friends
  • Their experiences etc

Because all of these entities are fluid and not fixed, this means that your personality (which relies on these) is also fluid and not fixed.  

Don’t Be Trapped Into Faulty Thinking Practices

Believing that your genes determine certain aspects of your life is not healthy thinking. Believing in such can be damaging in a number of ways:

  1. Detrimental To Self-Confidence: If you believe a certain aspect of your personality is as a result of you lacking a certain gene that other people have …this can make you feel inferior to those people because you believe they have something you don’t have.  The reality is that there is no such thing as a “confidence gene” or a “popularity gene” for example.

  2. Creates A Way Of Making Excuses: If you believe that you lack a “confidence gene” or a “popularity gene” …this can result in you believing that you have an excuse for not even trying to improve in these areas of your life. This doesn’t just go for personality either. It applies to all areas of ones life. For example, I’m sure you’ve heard an over-weight person blaming their weight problems on their genes …and then using this as an excuse for not sticking to a weight loss or exercise regime.

  3. Creates A Victim State: Following on from the last point, if you continually make excuses for areas of your life (and for your personality) …it can create what psychologists call a “victim state”. This can result in a lowering your self-confidence …which takes us back to point one above.

If you allow these three mindsets to develop, it can create a vicious cycle that keeps repeating and reinforcing itself.

The reality is that no one is born with low self-confidence or feeling inferiority. But instead, these are as a result of outside influences that have affected your upbringing and life creating the person you are today. And because of this, this means that you can change your personality now, for the better, with the right instruction. Your personality is not fixed.

You said genetics does play a small role?

Yes. But as stated, this is only a minor role …and even this can be overcome. Therefore, none of the above 3 mindsets need to take place. They can all be avoided with the right knowledge.

The small part your genetics do play is called your “genetic tendency”. What this means is that certain people, depending on their genetics, are more susceptible to developing certain personality characteristics.

For example, some people if they face hard times are more likely to become depressed than others. However, this doesn’t mean that this person MUST become depressed. It simply means they are at a higher risk of it happening. When a person thinks they MUST behave in a certain way because they believe they have inherited that characteristic from their parents …this is what sets up the above 3 points we went through.

You Determine Your Personality …Not Your Genetics

Never let a false myth determine how you live your life. If a person decides not to give in to the belief that their genetics determine who they are, but instead sought help in overcoming their genetic tendency...

…they would be able to overcome that personality characteristic they want to avoid.

What you need to do now (if there is an element of your personality that you want to change) is make the decision that you are going to change it. This is the first step in admitting that your genetics are not in control of who you are …but only you yourself are in control of your destiny.