Personality as defined in the Cambridge Dictionary means:
"the type of person you are, shown by the way you behave, feel and think".
How we behave is especially important to whether we interact in a positive or negative way with both ourselves and when with others. For example if we have a panicky, angry or anxious way of feeling or thinking it makes interactions difficult for us and others during those interactions. On the other hand if we have a confident, happy or curious way of being with ourselves and others interacting brings more connections, sociability and peace.
When we describe someone else's personality it is usually what we have 'observed' in their behaviours or what they tell us about the way they think, since we can only imagine what another is feelings, feelings are subjective. For example when asked to write a reference of someone's 'character' what do/would you think about? We can only write about how we personally experience that person or what others tell us about how they have experienced a person, because we can't say who they are for a fact! We can describe peoples personalities as the differences between us, you and me by contrasting what we do with what another does; or how similar they are to us; what we are describing however, is the observable behaviours!
Personality is thought to be those long-term dispositions or the enduring patterns which we as individuals utilise.
Is our personality the 'reason' we act or is our personality the entity which 'compels' us to act, behave the way we do?
Do we bring our character temperament with us when we are born?
Is our personality the result of our nurturing? Our environment?
Mental or emotional health refers to a positive way of being and an overall psychological well-being, it is more than the absence of mental illness. A person who deploys a healthy process of characteristics, experiences freedom of choice and chooses behaviours which are healthy for others equal to self. Able to think about their own needs and fulfil them and/or knows how to ask for support to have their needs me without being detrimental to others.
World Mental Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental Health:
“Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”
Carl Rogers an American Psychologist the founder of Person-Centred psychology and the Humanistic school of thought along with Abraham Maslow, Rollo May and Erich Fromm emphasises looking at the whole person as a unique individual. Being constructed of concepts such as free will, self-efficacy, and having a tendency to Self-actualise the concept all human beings can reach for and achieve their fullest potential. Self motivated to psychological growth, fulfilment and satisfaction from individualistic living.
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The fundamental belief is that people are innately good and mental and emotional difficulties stem from wondering far from our basic nature. Humanistic thought is one of optimism emphasising personal worth and value the creative nature which focuses on human capacity to overcome difficulties, pain and despair.
The image opposite is how I interpret this 'good' life Roger' speaks about. I think of life as a process of waves ebbing and flowing with daily conundrums being worked with (flow). Our self-concept constructed of our beliefs, values, morals, attitudes. The way we think about our self (image) the value we place on our self (esteem/worth) and what we wish we were (ideal-self). How we express our self in the world of others and with self (behaviours).
In Humanistic thought our subjective perceptions are more important to our understanding of the world, this is often called our ‘phenomenological field’, that is our subjective reality, we are aware of our experiences which include thoughts, images, objects, experience, people, behaviours and ideas like justice, equality, law and order. The Self being the ‘phenomenological’ and the ‘field’ our experiences (Self experiencing and experience).
In Rogers view:
“a person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.”
Carl Rogers - On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy
Rogers and Maslow regarded personal growth and fulfilment as basic human motivations, each person, in their own unique way seeks to grow psychologically and is motivated to continually develop and improve themselves. Greater emphasis is on the ‘perceptions’ and individual ‘interpretations’ of our individual experiences, rather than thinking (Wundt) unconscious (Freud) or behaviours (Skinner).
"Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person's ideas, and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets — neither Freud nor research — neither the revelations of God nor man — can take precedence over my own direct experience. My experience is not authoritative because it is infallible. It is the basis of authority because it can always be checked in new primary ways. In this way its frequent error or fallibility is always open to correction."
Carl Rogers - On Becoming a Person, 1961
In the development of personality, the main issues as Rogers saw it was the development of the self-concept, a positive self-concept is built from an environment where unconditional positive acceptance from the significant care givers of the child is consistent. If the conditions of the environment in which the child grows is accepting. Loving and unconditional the child will develop a positive and healthy sense of self, develop positive self-worth and have the opportunity to self-actualise.
When we are congruent, i.e. in harmony with our self-concept then we feel contented mainly at peace with ourselves, when we are incongruent, i.e. out of balance with our self-concept then this according to Rogers is when we experience internal conflict and this leads to metal states which are not healthy for us and blocks our actualising tendencies. Which can get layered over and hidden depending on the individuals experience and experiencing and any difficulties this might bring. For example, a child who is sexually abused, beaten or starved on a regular basis might utilise the defence of dissociation, minimisation or denial and/or their focus will be upon surviving rather than utilising Free-Will, since their Free-Will may have been squashed from others suppressing and controlling. Their psych may become incongruent with the actualising tendency, attaining their fullest potential is thwarted in the here and now, due to activation of their survival mode necessary to stay alive.
In Maslow's terms safety, security and protection is not available and as such the next level of needs cannot be achieved, since these children are trying to create the safety, security and protection for their self and for a child this is almost impossible since they have no power or control over what really happens to them. Other layers are placed upon them and add to the blocks for example, shame, ashamed, guilt, anger, anxieties, worthlessness, poor self-esteem, low confidence in their own abilities and it would be necessary for these children to go through each layer, recover and heal before the actualising tendency can become prominent and within reach again. As you can see from this description children who arrive into adulthood carrying all these blocks to reaching their fullest potential have a journey to undertake if they want to achieve all they can be!
Daniel Goleman (1995) - Emotional Intelligence
Carl Rogers (1961) - On becoming a Person
In my experience all human beings are equal, fluid and have potential, with change being inevitable. As with all information & theory it is not fact. We can choose to look towards our own experiencing of living to aid our personal understanding. Whilst remaining open, taking on board thoughts and experience of others in relation to self and pondering upon information offered. If this is our personal desire.