What Determines Who You Are?

What Determines Their Personalities?
What Determines Their Personalities?

We all wait patiently for Sunday, to see what our Guest Blogger, Lorie Sheffer has to say. Here she is, enjoy:

I was watching a litter of stray kittens that live in my parents’ back yard, and it struck me how even in the animal world, personality is evident from a very early age. Among those kittens there is the shy one, the daredevil, the social one, and the aggressor. I am hoping to get them all tame enough to find homes. As I watched them interact, I thought how much they are like humans. We all have family dynamics, and our roles change little, if at all, through the years. Nothing brings those dynamics to the surface like group stress.

“You can’t see the forest for the trees.”  Sometimes when we are part of the group or family on a daily basis, it is difficult for us to see what our role is. We are too close to get a good view. If we step back and are no longer part of that group, then return, the dynamics are as clear as day.

My mother just turned 77 years old. Her eldest sister is 88 and her middle sister passed away two years ago at the age of 82. When the three of them were in a room together it was clear what their roles had always been. They still knew what buttons to push.  Apparently it never ends. “She was always such a spoiled brat!” “You were always a goody-goody suck up!”  “No wonder you always got into trouble.”

My husband has clearly always been The Rebel. By that, I mean that he is able to set boundaries and to be the voice of reason. It is clear he is almost shunned within his family because of his ability to do so. I seem to be The Mediator. I hate conflict. I am hypersensitive to tension. I can spot an argument before the first voice is raised. It can be exhausting. I’ve discovered that some of my lifelong anxiety comes from my anticipation of an argument or conflict. I wasn’t raised in an abusive family, but I was raised within a big extended family where conflict was inevitable. I want everyone to be kind.  I don’t care for labels, but it really does seem that some of them exist for a reason. I don’t know if we behave the way we do because we are trying to fit the label we were given or if the label was given to us because of the consistent behavior we have shown.

I believe that people do have the ability to change, but that our core personalities, just like the personalities of that litter of stray kittens, is set at a very early age. Anyone who has more than one of their own children will tell you, even though two children have the same set of parents and are raised in the same home, they can be total opposites. What is your role within your family? Think back to when you were a child, and then take a look at what your role is now. Have you really changed all that much? When you visit with family, do you see everyone falling back into those old dynamics? There is a reason that shows like Roseanne and Everybody Loves Raymond, as well as movies like Christmas Vacation and Home for the Holidays are such hits. We can all relate.

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By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.