How do you define personality? Do you have all kinds of labels and descriptors you use when you talk about your family? If you are anywhere close to my age, you remember Popeye the Sailor Man, and his wonderful line, “I yam what I yam.” I have seen time and time again families who are stuck in the Popeye mentality, creating a label around the negative behaviors their kids (or their spouses) exhibit. They live in reaction, ready to spring with their defenses anytime something doesn’t go their way.
Have you ever said:
- “She’s so hyperactive”
- “He’s just a stick in the mud”
- “She’s super sensitive.”
- “He’s a bit of a Negative Nancy.”
The rebel. The class clown. Oh my, the drama queen. Have you had those moments where you see one of your beloved little creatures in your home and immediately think up a label that not only defines them, but solidifies the negative persona you want to avoid?
We want to stay away from the label game…and yet… those labels are the adjectives that describe the people in our lives. So how can we describe and not define?
There is an element of truth to Popeye’s quote. We are, at our core, a unique personality style blend – based on science, environment, and emotional factors. Our adjectives describe us, yet don’t have to define us. Better yet, if they ARE at the core of who we are, what if we were intentional about what descriptors we want to stick and become part of that definition?
A while back I did a series on understanding your unique personality style based on the DISC personality assessments. As this is the basis for everything I speak and coach on, it’s time to revisit this powerful topic.
I spend a lot of time exploring personality and the way we are naturally wired – but let’s get one thing straight. There are a lot of factors affecting who you are and what you do every single day. Your environment, health, the family dynamics around you and how you connect with others all greatly affect how you portray yourself to the world. There have definitely been times when the words to describe me are not what I want to become my identity.
Remember that there are two ways to present yourself –
one is with intention, and one is out of reaction.
When you think of the definition of you, that’s intentional. What do you want this to look like?
Alright, Ashley, on the chopping block with you – let’s “define Ashley” in two ways, along with the adjectives to describe me:
I don’t have much patience and love to be in control. When I’m stressed out, I frantically grasp for some element of control in something, so I start barking orders to ensure everyone is doing their part to bring some order to the chaos. My way is typically the right way, of course, so as long as people don’t bother me with questions, we can plow right through and do what I think needs to be done.
I’m driven and confident. Engaging others and empowering them to be their true authentic selves is my favorite past-time. I can move fast and jump in to most situations ready to collaborate or lead, depending on what is needed. My fast-moving personality allows me to be ready for anything and always up for a challenge.
Describe personality by your natural tendencies, but never, ever, let one of those adjectives – especially something in your reaction mode – become a non-budging definition of who you are.
You are powerful. Significant. Loved. These are adjectives to include in the definition of you. These define your personality. Create your defining words beyond simply what you do in your worst moments. Separate out a reactive behavior and acknowledge we all have our hard moments.
Above All, Love
Hold on to those definitions of who you want to be – to be love, grace, joy, beauty. Let go of when you miss the mark – learn from it and move past it. You are more than just what comes out of you as you grow. Every interaction with another gives you the opportunity to adapt a bit more into the person who thrives in your beautiful personality style.
Intentional descriptors are when you are living in your strengths. The uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Reactive descriptors are when the head takes a back seat to the emotion. This isn’t always a negative, which is why I say “reactive” instead of “negative”. When you live simply in reaction, however, even in the good way (like the survival mode you switch on in a crisis situation), you will eventually burn out, because this isn’t sustainable.
You have to rest and replenish. This comes through pulling out those fabulous descriptors that are your strengths as well as your definition of who you want to be. If you want to be wise, define yourself as “the listener” and work on your listening skills. If you want to be more loving, define yourself as love…it’s amazing how much that one definition will shift your demeanor and how you react to others.
Create your own descriptive words that you want to define you. Allow for these to become your mantra and live in your strengths. Don’t become your reactive tendencies – instead, try being your biggest loving supporter and see how your whole perspective shifts.
Share with me below your favorite positive descriptors that you include in the definition of you!