“Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia” (‘I am I, plus my circumstances’).
Jose Ortega y Casset. Spanish Philosopher
Following my last post on my ‘resources’, I planned in this post to list my innate strengths. What I thought would be a simple matter of looking up a little on personality, ended up with me bogged down researching the difference between personality and character. (I was to discover that spending time in research, reflection and over-analysis before starting on projects is a personality trait; and one that certainly is an attribute of mine! )
What is the difference between personality and character?
Personality is our inherited make-up and nature, the image you project, how others perceive you and how you deal with others. We cannot change our basic personality yet aspects influence our needs; and hence our behaviour. Personality traits range from one extreme to another, examples being: extroverted/ introverted; talkative/ shy; hot-tempered/ calm; venturesome/ timid; cautious/ spontaneous. There is no right or wrong personality.
Character refers to the moral and ethical quality of a person; their inclination to do right. It is what is “deep inside”. Our character evolves over time as a combination of upbringing, education, beliefs and experience. Character is therefore malleable. We can work towards being a better character, towards higher principles. Character traits are positive (strengths) or negative (weaknesses). Examples of character strengths include honesty, fairness, kindness, courage and temperance.
Individuality The complex of what makes a person is personality, character and behaviour influenced by circumstances, what fate blows your way. Your cultural, socioeconomic and personal situation can have a bearing on the complete person that comprises ‘you’.
Who Am I
I also wrote about my personality trait of introversion. When I set out to expand on that by doing an on-line personality test, it included questions I felt are part of character, not personality. Specifically one question “would you choose justice over mercy” annoyed me. I did not believe I could give a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. I was pleased to come across a test version offering a sliding scale allowing me to sit on the fence for that question. (Why this question rankled with me I will write about in another post).
The test score showed my personality as being ‘INFJ’ (introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging). I am decisively introverted and intuitive, more borderline between feeling / thinking; and judging / prospective. So while I am rational (thinking); I am also sensitive, striving for harmony and co-operation (feeling); with ‘feeling’ nudging ahead of ‘thinking’. I am open-minded and relaxed (prospecting); but my ‘judging’ side wins over with commitment, seeking closure, and decisiveness. (If you can count ‘decisiveness’ as making firm decisions after much research and long-winded weighing up of options! )
I used to feel dragged down by my reserved nature. I am not that outgoing person who everyone instantly warms to and admires. Now, I think differently. My quietness allows me to be an easy listener and be more empathetic, showing kindness to others. Likewise although I am not the spontaneous ‘fun’ seeking reveler, my even-temper creates calm and harmony in family and social situations which is a positive thing. I am able to use the ‘limitations’ of my personality as strengths to enhance my character and social interactions.
To balance off who I am leaves circumstances; a blended mixture of upbringing where strong family values were instilled; my nationality and culture of being Australian from British forebears; my age and being a woman, neither of which I can change; my talents, skills, education; my history of marriage and motherhood; and my fate. Some are favourable (being Australian from a good family); some not-so favourable (divorce).
I believe by accepting my personality, being tolerant of others, building on my character strengths, and taking control of my life with appropriate attitudes (courage, optimism, tenacity, resilience, humility) to each circumstance – whatever that might be – are deciding factors in being ‘me’. Choosing my attitude and driving my destiny – because of my circumstance rather than despite my circumstance – have made me who I am today.
Image courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net [StuartMiles]