Can you change your character?

The desire to change personality is not uncommon. Shy people may want them to be more outgoing and talkative. People who are grumpy may want them to remain calm when they are emotional.

Is it really possible to change your personality, or is our basic personality model fixed for life? Although self-help books and websites often promote plans that you can follow to change your habits and behaviors, people always believe that our underlying personality will not change.

The Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud believes that by the age of 5, personality has largely remained unchanged. Even many modern psychologists believe that the overall personality is relatively fixed and stable throughout life.

But what if you want to change your character? Can the right methods and hard work bring about real personality changes, or are we caught up in bad traits that prevent us from achieving our goals?

Factors that shape personality

To understand whether personality can be changed, we must first understand what causes personality. The ancient debate between nature and nurture comes into play again. Is personality shaped by our inheritance (instinct) or by our upbringing, experience and environment (acquired)?

In the past, theorists and philosophers often adopted a one-to-one approach, advocating the importance of nature or nurture, but today most thinkers would agree that it is a mixture of these two forces that ultimately shapes our personality.

Not only that, the constant interaction between heredity and the environment also helps shape the expression of personality. For example, you may be naturally friendly and laid-back, but working in a high-stress environment may cause you to be more irritable and nervous than in a different environment.

Dweck tells the story of an identical twin boy who separated and raised after birth. After adulthood, the two men married a woman of the same name, had similar hobbies, and had similar levels of certain characteristics in personality assessment.

It is these examples that provide the basis for the idea that our personalities are largely out of our control. These twin studies are not influenced by our environment and unique experiences, but point to the power of genetic influence.

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Genetics is of course important, but other studies have also shown that our upbringing and even our culture interact with our genetic blueprint to shape us.

Personality quality “between the two”

Some experts, including psychologist Carol Dweck, believe that changing the behavior patterns, habits, and beliefs that hide under the surface of a wide range of personality traits (for example, introverted, easy-going) is the real key to personality change.

Broad traits may remain stable throughout life, but Dweck believes that the “middle” traits hidden under the surface of the wide traits are the most important factor in shaping ourselves. She believes that it is the qualities between the two that can be changed.

So what is the “middle” part of these personalities?

  • Beliefs and belief systems. Although changing some aspects of your personality can be challenging, you can realistically address changing some of the underlying beliefs that help shape and control the way your personality is expressed.
  • Goals and response strategies. For example, although you may have more type A personality, you can learn new coping skills and stress management skills to help you become a more relaxed person.

Belief and self-belief

Although changing beliefs may not be easy, it provides a good starting point. Our beliefs affect our lives to a large extent, from how we view ourselves and others, how we operate in our daily lives, how we deal with challenges in life, and how we connect with others.

If we can create real change in our beliefs, it may have a huge impact on our behavior and certain aspects of our personality.

“People’s beliefs include their beliefs and representations of the nature and operation of themselves, their relationships, and their world. Since infancy, humans have developed these beliefs and representations, and many well-known personality theorists with different beliefs admit that they are A basic component of personality,” Dweck explained in a 2008 paper.

Take, for example, beliefs about the self, including whether personal attributes and characteristics are fixed or malleable. If you think your intelligence level is fixed, then you are unlikely to take steps to deepen your thinking. However, if you think that these characteristics are changeable, you may work harder to challenge yourself and broaden your horizons.

Obviously, beliefs about self do play a key role in how people operate, but researchers have found that people can change their beliefs in order to adopt more plastic methods of self-properties.

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In an experiment, students found that after the brain continues to form new connections in response to new knowledge, they have a greater appreciation for schoolwork, a higher grade point average, and overall enjoyment of the school.

Dweck’s own research shows that how to praise children will have an impact on their self-confidence. Those who are praised for their intelligence often hold fixed theoretical beliefs about their personal attributes. These children see their intelligence as an unchangeable feature; you either have it or you don’t.

Praised child effortOn the other hand, their intelligence is generally considered to be malleable. Dweck found that these children tend to persevere in the face of difficulties and are more eager to learn.

Tips for changing personality

At many moments in your life, you may find that certain aspects of your personality are something you wish to change. You can even set goals and work to solve the underlying problem characteristics. For example, it’s common to set the focus of a New Year’s resolution to change certain parts of your personality, such as becoming more generous, kind, patient, or outgoing.

In general, many experts agree that it is extremely difficult to make real and lasting changes to a wide range of characteristics. So if you are dissatisfied with certain aspects of your personality, can you really do something to change it?

Changing from introversion to extroversion can be extremely difficult (or even impossible), but experts believe that you can do something to make real and lasting changes in all aspects of your personality.

Learn new habits

Psychologists have discovered that people who exhibit positive personality traits (such as kindness and honesty) have developed habitual responses. Habits can be learned, so changing your habit response over time is one way to create a personality change.

Of course, it is not easy to develop new habits or break old ones. It takes time and serious effort. With enough practice, these new behavior patterns will eventually become second nature.

Challenge your confidence

If you believe that you cannot change, then you will not change. If you want to become more extroverted, but you believe that your introversion is a fixed, permanent, and unchangeable characteristic, then you will never try to become more sociable. But if you believe that your personal attributes are variable, you are more likely to strive to become more gregarious.

Focus on your efforts

Dweck’s research has consistently shown that it is important to praise effort rather than ability. Don’t think about “I’m smart” or “I’m very talented.” Use “I’m really working hard” or “I found a good way to solve this problem” instead of these phrases.

By shifting more to a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset, you may find it easier to experience real change and growth.


The positive psychologist Christopher Peterson realized early on that his introverted personality might have an adverse effect on his academic career. To overcome this problem, he decided to start to be extroverted when needed, such as when speaking to the whole class or giving a speech at a conference.

In the end, these behaviors will only become second nature. Although he hinted that he was still an introvert, he learned how to become extroverted when needed.

Very good sentence

Personality change may not be easy, and changing some broad characteristics may never truly be fully realized. But researchers do believe that you can do something to change certain parts of your personality, and those aspects that exist under these broad characteristics can really change the way you behave, think, and operate throughout the day—daily life.