“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 have written on what I consider are my values (character strengths). I strive to show compassion, empathy, dependability, trustworthiness, and integrity.
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]
Thanks for sharing more about who you are! By the way, I am an ‘ESFJ’:)
We share half of our traits. I knew that we had a lot in common 🙂
Thanks for your comment.
This is really informative – thank you!
Elizabeth, it sounds like you and I have very similar personalities 🙂 Thanks for sharing – it pleases me to know you a little better.
I had wondered that by some of your posts. Thanks for your comment.
This is a really good post Elizabeth! thank you for sharing this perspective 🙂
Thanks for your comment. 🙂
I really like the difference between personality and character as you have described here! By the way I’m an ENFP!
The personality / character distinction still confuses me somewhat (meaning that some things that are claimed to be personality and therefore not changeable, I disagree and think that you can). Still that is the rebel coming out in me…. always questioning ‘accepted theories’ or at least keeping an open mind.
I guessed that you were an extrovert as you are such a people-person. I am glad that we share the ‘EN’ parts and probably a lot of the ‘P’ as well (as I am borderline on the P/J. 🙂
I’m glad too! I know I have core personality traits that I can’t change but I can modify my behaviour to be more socially acceptable. Make sense?
Yes, sure does. However, one of the GREAT advantages of living by myself is that I do not have to do that as often as before! 🙂
haha! Wait. I live alone too! D’oh!
Ha ha. I didn’t think of that 🙂
Elizabeth, the last paragraph you wrote sums it all up perfectly. Wise words I will strive to remember and to live by!
I am most definitely introverted too. 🙂
I agree with Jennifer. The last paragraph is really powerful.
Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it.
Thanks for commenting that my words are wise. That meant a lot to me.
In the end, it all sounds very empowering. You know who you are and you have a direction in which to head. Sounds like a nice combination for starting any day in one’s life, or a new adventure, perhaps? 🙂 What’s nice is you’ll have this blog to chronicle this interesting journey you’ve been on. Blogging certainly has its benefits (not the least of which is free self-therapy!)
Your comment on starting the day or a new adventure made me think as I am one that gets the daily attitude OK (most of the time) and my struggles have mainly been with the big picture issues. Yes, free self-therapy is definitely empowering, as is free ‘other blogger’ therapy and you have certainly helped me along the way in that regard. Thanks for your comment. 🙂
visit to my friend and thank you
Well, Elizabeth, that explains a LOT. There are few of us in the world, and when we find each other, so much can be left unsaid and we still find understanding. I, too, am an INFJ. I learned this in my early 20’s, and have found it incredibly helpful in accepting myself. Because not very many people “get” where I’m coming from. You know what I mean.
Yes, I “get” what you mean. I agree that is gives a great understanding knowing who we are. I am so happy to have made this connection with you.
Terrific blog, Elizabeth!
In a college creative writing class, we once gave the students two personality indicator tests. The first they took about themselves, and when given the results they analyzed and wrote specific examples from their behaviors and feeling that supported the results. The second test they took as a “character” in a piece of literature they’d studied, and they had to answer as the character’s behaviors, actions and choices indicated. When the results came back they studied the results for better understanding. It was a very good exercise.
It would be intriguing to see the differences that would have come out of that exercise.
Thanks for your insightful comment.
I’m just loving your soulful contemplations and self reflections. Indeed, who are we. Love that quote too.
You know, I’ve actually only just realised my character strengths/traits via blogging. I had never thought on me like that before, but blogger comments have had me reflect and see myself more, and even forgive myself.
Love your balance of education/personal.
Yes, I too am the blogging certainly helps me find my true self and work out my strengths and also focus on my strengths. (Before I used to dwell on my weaknesses).
Thanks for your kind comment.
When my daughters were little I was always careful to differentiate between character and behaviour — You are fundamentally ‘good’ that is at the core of your nature. Your behaviour… well sometimes, it can be not so good and need working on… 🙂
I love how you express it — and getting to know you a bit deeper is a true gift.
By the way — I am a 50/50 I-E, and then NFP. 🙂
Ah yes, that conflict within us of what we know is right and then how we actually behave 🙂
On that topic, I have posted today on a topic that I have grappled with for some time – Justice versus mercy. The post I have written today is general terms and my next post will bring in more of the personal conflict. I wrote a few comments on a post of yours a few weeks back and I wanted you to know how much your posts on this topic (in choices etc) and your comments have helped me resolve a few things in my head. You and ML King, Ghandi, Mandela and Desmond Tutu. I hope you do not mind me putting you in the same category as them! I will honour you in my next post 🙂
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Hi Elizabeth. I find this post fascinating. When I took the Myers-Briggs, I emerged as an ESTP, your polar opposite. I was a high school teacher, so the E served me well with all those teenagers. I’m comfortable being on stage. I have found living alone a real challenge. Now that I have a cat I’m doing better. Well, that and time. Getting me to shut up and listen is not so easy. Just ask my daughters. It’s something I try to remember to work on every day. Some days I wish for a little more I in my profile.
Thanks for your thought-provoking writing.
There are so many sides of each of us. I like to research information and this part of your personality is like mine.
Elizabeth, you are a multiple-faceted woman I am proud to call my friend. Although I am opposite in some ways, I feel we would balance each other out, Elizabeth. 🙂
sometimes I spend so much time in research, and not enough in putting it to good use …
… one day perhaps?
Hi Elizabeth, thanks for visiting my blog and liking my article. I read this post quite a while ago and liked it then, too. I find it so insightful, and I admire your skill in relating the ideas and your experience so clearly. I enjoy reading your posts a lot.