Recently, I got to see Jim Jefferies live in Seattle.
Watching him perform live in person is somewhat of an extraordinary experience. In my opinion, with the exception of Louis CK and Eddie Izzard, no other modern comic has such a rhapsodic combination of personality and presence on stage.
He’s able to exude all this while telling the audience gross stories about his drug binges, sexual escapades, and the occasional sermons on religion, guns, and misogyny.
His rambling performance personifies a genuine personality, one that I’m still in the process of crafting for myself.
I’ve taken all the lessons that I’ve learned about what a dynamic, genuine, and spontaneous personality is and put them all together for consideration.
I have carefully crafted this article not to be a how-to guide. If crafting a personality was as easy as following a recipe to make pasta arrabbiata, then everybody would have a magnetic personality.
But the simple truth is that very few people do. I believe that this is due to the fact that most people don’t search for something deeper within ourselves and we miss out on creating the most unique thing that is ours.
These are simply observations that you can consider in your quest for forging your personality through genuine, authentic, and honest self-expression.
1. Genuinely Strong Personalities Are Unique and Cannot Be Copied
Although research has shown that we are primates with highly complex mirror neurons meant for copying the behaviors of others to adapt and survive, I believe that, unlike apes, we have evolved an ability to spot the difference between fake and genuine behaviors.
I’m not suggesting that copying and emulating don’t work. It might also be a way to start out.
However, in the long run, you have to create something that you truly own. This is the only way to fully realize your true potentials and maximize the powers of your personality.
Two primary forces are at work here – how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you.
If you prioritize how you perceive yourself over how people perceive you, your personality will be more dynamic and unique. You will develop a keen awareness of yourself. You will become more meta.
While emulating certain personalities is a good strategy to start out with, like when we were children and didn’t know how to make others like us, it cannot be the end-all.
Eventually, the act will grow tiresome and you’ll be forced to jump from one hermit crab personality to the next.
If you are genuine and act upon your deepest impulses, you are able to adapt and find new ways to show your values.
Speaking of values..
2. Personalities Are Expressions of Deeply Developed Core Values over Time
Although Feud was the first person to suggest that personality is developed over time instead of originating within a person since birth, it was Dabrowski’s theory of Positive Disintegration that really led me to believe that the core of our personality lies within a person’s deep core values.
The major question is whether personality is innate or it needs to find a medium of expression that is slowly developed over time.
I like to think that it is both – in the perspective that values within an individual are both innate but also need to be realized through a deepening connection with reality.
We have value “markers,” if you will, that can be triggered when we encounter something in life that we can strongly connect to.
Without a doubt, personalities are what attract us to each other in the long run. Unlike looks, they retain their attraction and even strengthen it over time.
Since we know that values are what we seek to give and possess, personality must have something to do with values.
Moreover, personalities can drive us away as much as they attract us, so they must also be a polarizing phenomenon. They must indicate some sort of potential compatibility on a deeper level.
The upshot is that you might not have to worry about what a personality is or even how to develop it.
If you find something in life that you are deeply passionate about, your core values will find their own way of expressing themselves. That will automatically become your personality without you knowing it.
3. Personality Comes from a Sense of Strong Identity, and Also the Willingness to Lose That Identity for Something Greater
M. Scott Peck talks about the willingness to give up your identity, no matter how painful, in his book “The Road Less Traveled.”
He mentioned that one has to work to build and strengthen his identity before he can truly lose it.
Yet how do you know when you have an identity worth losing? A strong indication of such an identity is the personality of which it finds its way through the surface of your persona.
The caveat here is that you have to determine if this identity is real or idealized. As Karen Horner postulated in her book Neurosis the Human Growth, it’s very easy and tempting for a person to develop a false persona based on his idealized image and beliefs.
This idealized image actually suppresses personality since it is supported by fear and anxiety.
However, once the true self begins to grow, it will show itself as a strong unshakable personality.
Yet the conundrum of showing your identity honestly is that you also have to be willing to have it be modified by reality (not by other people). This is not a bad thing. Nobody with a strong, polarizing, and memorable personality retains it for long.
The continual process to gain and lose identities is how we evolve our personalities. Just like how a flower blooms to attract bees only to wilt away will eventually give way to more beautiful flowers later on.
4. Strong Personalities Never Stay the Same for Long
Our values change.
Our identities change.
Our environments change.
The only people who retain their personalities through the ages are the ones clinging onto outdated values or faking it.
If you find yourself being predictable and the same person as you were the same time last year, chances are that you haven’t been able to develop your value realization engine.
It’s this ability to develop new values, and yourself, that come through a dynamically changing personality.
You must constantly seek new ideas, values, and styles of self-expression. Without overdoing it, your maturity rate will come through in the form of an appropriately changing personality.
5. Personality Is the Rebellion against Conforming Forces Instead of Something That Is given to Us
You alone stand against forces conspired to standardize people’s behaviors in this world.
You develop your own internal set of value drivers and beliefs.
From these drivers, you express either love for the values that you treasure or contempt for the values you dislike.
In short, it’s through these polarizing forces that you find your true personality. If personality is laughing at what everybody is laughing at or crying when everybody cries then it wouldn’t be much of a personality.
Personality rebels and persists. It indicates the internal search for something deeper and stranger in life. It stands out when the greatest temptation is to fit in.
6. Personality Welcomes Any Feedback, but It Grows Stronger with Negative Feedback
Because personality is expressed freely, it needs no validation by definition.
However, feedback from the environment is an important factor developing a personality. This feedback comes in the specific form of the reflection of our values.
Since we have established that personalities are simply expressions of values, then they need to find their reflections in reality. These reflections come in the form of feedback. If you are playful and sarcastic, you will find the greatest joy in interacting with somebody who laughs at sarcastic jokes.
This type of feedback is important for a polarizing force to know that it’s really doing its job.
But there is also another type of feedback that accelerates the development of such personality – a negative feedback.
In a moment of contempt, you will know where your values stand internally and externally. Don’t be afraid of these moments. Even seek them out. They will show you that it’s okay to be polarizing and honest. That world doesn’t end.
Case in point: When a comedian faces a heckler.
If he ignores or stands down from the heckler, he will lose his bite. If he stands up to the heckler and blows him away, he will find newfound confidence in himself. So it is with your style of expression. If you come across people who show a great dislike for your personality, find ways to become stronger in it. Weathering this storm, you will find that your personality will be even stronger than you first started with.
7. Humor and Contempt Are Part of a Value-Based Personality
Find something that you consider distasteful and bash on it all day long.
This may be off-putting for some people, but it shows signs of a strong internal compass.
Ask Adam Carolla about anything and he’ll find ways to complain about it. It’s genuine and it’s funny. It also shows personality in an otherwise boring person with a boring life. When a man gets fired up about something he can attract so many people no matter how ordinary he seems.
This is because when he finds quirky things about something that he doesn’t like, he can express his internal compass.
He expresses what he feels is right or wrong never mind if it’s rational or not. This true expression often comes across as humor. Whether this humor was intended it to or not, it doesn’t really matter.
8. Strength of Personality Is Deeply Correlated to Self-Esteem and Sense of Ease
If anxiety and depression kills personality, then self-confidence develops it.
This doesn’t happen easily or automatically but with the right amount of courage and effort, it will find a way. Here are the ways in which personality and self-esteem are correlated, using the six pillars of self-esteem as suggested by Dr. Nathaniel Branden:
Awareness – Personality comes from an awareness of self and the environment. It’s the deep inner self connecting with reality. A person cannot have a personality when he is detached from reality and his true sense of self.
Responsibility of self – self-expression implies responsibility for one’s realization of values – It also signifies the trust in oneself to handle any hot situation that may come up. If a person doesn’t trust deep down that he can manage himself in any environment, he wouldn’t dare to show his personality openly.
Purpose – A personality may seem random and spontaneous, but it ultimately comes with a purpose behind it. This purpose is the expression of values and the seeking of the reflection of values.
Acceptance – The stronger the sense of acceptance of all that is reality and his connection to it, the more developed his personality is. In fact, a well-developed personality is the ultimate form of acceptance of the what-is. If a man holds out for a rosy future or dreaming of having some tremendous quality, he will hold himself back waiting for those moments that will never arrive.
Genuine integrity – A person willing to act and speak as he is and thinks, must have the strongest conviction and ease about his state of being.
Assertiveness – Not much needs to be said here.
9. Personality Is the Product of Living Life Courageously, and Cannot Be Forced or Faked
Of course, it’s one thing to identify your values and tell yourself that you believe in them and it’s quite another thing to live them out with the greatest persistence every day.
Doing so will develop a true and genuine personality within you.
People with strong personalities are not childish or immature. They have been through the worst that life has to offer. They have withstood the weather of hate and misfortune. Even Jim Jefferies got punched while he was on stage, never mind the courage of getting on stage in the first place.
Society usually rewards comformists. The world doesn’t really seem to be made for people who take initiatitve and become courageous, but when they do, the personal reward for their hard work is immeasurable.
10. Personality Shows the Struggle and Contradictions of an Individual through Growth
This one is personal to me. Through my personal struggle for growth and maturity, I had always been afraid of losing my identity and personality.
However, as I continue to make the climb past my layers of fear, something emerges within me.
I find myself arguing, fighting, and making fun of myself.
Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry.
Slowly and surely, a personality starts to emerge naturally and without coercion. I no longer feel the need to show off something I don’t have. I simply want to speak my mind and act according to my values.
Then almost magically, people start to respond positively to it. People also start to respond negatively to it, but that’s just how polarization works.
In essence, in my personal struggle, paradoxes, and contradicting tendencies, I find a natural personality that’s truly part of me.
That’s what I strongly suggest you do too.
What are your personal struggles? Which areas do you find difficult developing and evolving? What are your sticking points when it comes to creating a genuine personality?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below and I will make sure to share some valuable insights.