Have you ever wondered why you act the way you do? Have you ever wondered what makes you react to situations the way you do? Have you ever thought about why you make all the important decisions you’ve made in your life like the choice of school, relationship, food? Do you have a good reason for preferring hamburger to hotdogs or ice-cream to carbonated drinks? If you give temperament as your reason, you might be right but not totally so. For many times besides our temperaments, the way we live our lives and the choices we make are conditioned by the type of environment we were born into, the quality of thinking and the lifestyle of the people we spent our formative years with. This is the same way our religion was chosen for us because we are born into one particular family and not the other, and grew up in one environment and not the other.
Personality development is not as easy as we all think as it comes in different stages. Very few people have their personality formed when they have come of age. According to experts, 80 percent of a person’s personality is formed before the age of 6. This means the formative years of anyone is important in his or her personality formation as the remaining 20 percent of a person’s personality is mostly formed before the teenage years.
Here are the four stages of personality development;
1. Innocence Stage
Every human is hundred percent pure and undiluted at this stage. At this stage, there is no sin, no fear and no particular traits. This stage is the shortest because it is the second of one’s birth. As a person is born and welcomed to the world by relatives, the clan slate he’s carrying begin to have different content according to the dictates of his or her relatives and environment. From the moment the innocence was hijacked, the journey to personality formation begins.
2. Victim Stage
Because one’s innocence was hijacked, one becomes a victim of the type of people in one’s family, suffering from what they also suffered from and inherits problems emanating from the quality of their thinking. Because the mind has been conditioned to think in a way or another, one therefore learns to adapt to situations whether they be desirable or not. The mind couldn’t think for itself but conform to the standard of the society. The person that is a victim of his or her environment would most likely fail where those before him or her failed. He or she would turn back where the elders in her family said there was no way when they could have pressed further.
3. Preference Stage
After one becomes the victim of his environment, one’s preferences are shaped towards what is acceptable to the society. In the script one is presented with after one’s innocence has been hijacked and one becomes a victim of the thinking of those one live with, some things are called good which are not necessarily so why some are labelled as bad because the parents failed to achieve them after spending a long time trying to. By this mode of direct transfer from the society to one’s heart, one’s preference is patterned after those of one’s parents and the society at large. What is good or bad, accepted or rejected, is based on what the society says about them. It is this preference that forms one’s choices and what one holds as dear and what one does not.
4. Prejudice Stage
From this preference, prejudices are formed. Now, prejudice is often having a negative opinions formed without sufficient knowledge. This means one grows to dislike some things without knowing why such things are disliked. One’s prejudices are stereotypical and oftentimes rooted in ignorance of the actual fact. These prejudices exist in different modes and features. One could resent a particular ethnic group because one’s parents call them bad; one could dislike actresses because the society calls them promiscuous; and one could grow up to see women that are striving to self independence as rude and ‘unAfrican’ because the society is patriarchal and has a different concept of women. These prejudices are carried on for a long time and oftentimes throughout one’s lifetime. They formed the core of one’s relationship with others. And if care is not taken, it could hamper one’s growth and development.
One’s life is lived according to the way one’s family and the society prepare it. The quality of one’s life will echo the background. If one spent his formative years with mediocre, one would spend his adulthood chasing after excellence and may never get it. People don’t change; they only get revealed. When the pressure is high, everyone will demonstrate the type of thinking that rule their lives, irrespective of what people perceive. Yet we are judged by our personality even though it is not one’s will to do certain things that the society has conditioned one to do.
When one therefore talks about personality, it is not often the true reflection of who a person really is. Personality is a combination of many things that are not the original versions of traits that a person is born with. And until we discover who our families and the society have made us, we will never be our true self. One cannot free oneself from the societal deposits except through a deliberate action after a careful examination of one’s life.
Written By Segun Ogunlade, Online Editor at HowNg