If asked, most of us could probably list at least three of our strengths and three things we would like to change about “who we are.” Think carefully about where that information originated. Is it rooted in what others have said throughout your life about your good and not-so-good behavioral characteristics, embedding that in your consciousness as “truth?”
Perhaps you have delved deeply within through meditation, therapy, or other practices to identify who you actually are—your “authentic self.” It is important to keep your mind open and curiosity alive when approaching finding out who you truly are. Guard against self-censoring even if your journey of discovery is a bit uncomfortable at first. Let honesty with yourself be your guide. Offer yourself forgiveness and understanding.
I believe we are all born as unique beings with natural tendencies to respond to life in certain ways. This uniqueness helps to explain why we see entirely different responses among people to the same life event. It also forms the foundation for the concept of “personality type.” Each of us is “hardwired” differently; that is, some parts of our personality come with us into the world at birth and so any influences, however strong, of our social environment can often seem at odds with how we “turn out.”
If we grow up hearing that even in small ways our personality doesn’t seem to fit completely with our family’s idea of who we should be, self-acceptance can be damaged. Generally we have to get all the way to adulthood before we can try to get in touch with our authentic self. One effective way to start that process is to look at your perspective on life—is it generally positive or negative in nature.
Then we can go on to observe how often we react without being “present in the moment” which sometimes is described as “being on autopilot.” Not making conscious choices most of the time leaves us with a sense of being out of control to varying degrees, and a vague sense of time passing with little meaning.
While most of us will experience all of the nine personality types during our lives, one will emerge as dominant. When we identify that dominant personality type, we find our “highest and best” self. How we can free that personality from repression and make it consistent in our lives is the question that is answered when we expand our awareness and understanding, allowing ourselves to grow and change.
Next: We will look at the nine dominant personality types as described by The Enneagram