Personality is an essential component of who we are, and it is often what distinguishes one individual from another. Given how much influence our personality has on our lives, it can either drive or inhibit progress.
The following are expert-recommended methods for improving your personality to be more successful in your personal life and business:
Clinical Psychologist and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Changing one’s personality is hard to do. The truth of the matter is— a total overhaul is highly unlikely. What’s more likely and sustainably are significant adjustments. Significant adjustments can maintain the best of who you are, while at the same time – evolving the worst of who you are.
This leaves you in a much better position for yourself and your relationships.
Cognitive behavior or psychodynamic?
The most significant difference between Psychologists who study Cognitive Behavior Therapy and those who study Psychodynamic Therapy happens to be the focus on Personality. It also happened to be the most significant difference between my Master’s level training and my Doctoral work.
The psychodynamic doctoral program I chose had a significant focus on understanding personality style and dynamics, not just personality “disorders.” I found this very helpful and seriously de-pathologizing to an otherwise overly pathologized area of psychology.
Of course, our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (CBT) are relevant and part of the process. But, they don’t get at the whole of the issues we struggle with, which almost always involve our personalities.
Operate from a place of diversity, equity and inclusion
Every one of us has a personality style; not every one of us has a personality “disorder.” And, take anyone in a particular context and their personality could seem disordered, but put that same person in a different context, and it doesn’t.
How people think about, experience, and react to personalities changes across cultures, ethnicities, religions, and any other diversity category you can think of. Thus it is extremely important to be operating from a place of diversity, equity, and inclusion when considering personality style—more on this in a later section.
Understand why you want to make that change
Being able to answer the question “Why?” is requisite to the question, “How?” I find that people are asking “why” more now than ever before. In part, I believe that’s due to the idea that personality used to be considered a static feature of one’s life; fairly unchangeable, especially as a person reaches their early 30’s.
However, as a psychodynamic clinician, I have learned that that is absolutely not true. Not only is it not true, but psychodynamic work also seeks to support just that – a change to one’s personality, based on the idea that many experiences of depression and anxiety stem from or are inextricably linked to our personalities.
But in order to really understand how, we must understand why we want to make that change. That answer should be unique to the person asking the question.
That said, it is also very hard to do alone and/or without a trained professional who has spent extensive time learning and understanding their own personality.
Without that, it becomes difficult to understand the bidirectional dynamics in any relationship, which are usually the most helpful indicators of what we need to change in our personality. Said another way, I don’t know what I need to change about myself if I don’t know how it impacts other people and how other people impact me.
What actually is personality?
Before actually doing the work to change it, I might use the word adjust because full-blown personality change – really is that hard. This cannot be over-emphasized.
My understanding of personality is informed by the PDM (The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual) more than the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
The PDM is also written by psychologists, where the DSM is a psychiatric tool.
From the PDM, I was taught, teach, and practice that personality involves an in-depth understanding of someone’s mental functioning and symptom patterns. What does that mean?
According to the PDM, it means understanding this:
- the way we relate to others
- how we understand our own feelings
- how we understand the feelings of others
- how we cope with stress and anxiety
- how we do (or don’t) regulate our own impulses
- how we observe our own emotions and behaviors
- and most socially considered, how we form moral judgments
Based on that list alone, we can see how vital it is that we understand the context of the person and their systems (e.g., family, social (work, school), governmental, religious, etc.) in order to make sense of how disordered these answers are, or aren’t.
What’s an example?
Well, we most certainly need to leave room for Neurodiversity. Answers to those questions that seem to be “outliers” don’t necessarily mean that there’s a personality problem or disorder (e.g., someone on the Autism spectrum may not comprehend the feelings of self and others the same way that someone who is not on the Autism spectrum will).
Improving your personality takes time and professional support
I believe that understanding all of the aforementioned categories takes time and takes another person. Sure, family and friends may be willing to talk through some of that with you, but not as much as it would need to be processed in order to see significant change.
You can greatly increase your chances of positive, sustainable personality change by committing to do the work over time with a psychologist or therapist who is specially trained to understand personality and how it works.
How do I change my personality?
Hopefully, this article has taught you that in order to figure out how to change your personality, you might want to consider:
- How to adjust it. Adjustments are easier than change. More realistic thinking upfront will increase the likelihood of success down the road.
- You’ll want to answer the question ‘Why’. Why do you want to change your personality?
- You’ll want to deeply understand your personality – as it is right now. You’ll have an easier time doing that if you answer the questions I provided you in the section about the PDM.
- Seek out the support of a well-trained clinician who absolutely understands the deep and dynamic nuance of this type of work. If that type of support is financially unavailable to you, read.
- Read as much as you can on the topic without over-pathologizing yourself and most definitely without diagnosing yourself. That won’t help you get anywhere but into a deep shame spiral that won’t leave much room for adjustment.
- Seek helpful and supportive feedback from people you interact with. Ask them questions about how they experience you and your personality.
- But remember, their answers are biased. They aren’t trained to be as objective as professionals are, so be careful.
- You want to change the parts of you that you think need to be changed, not just because someone else does.
Certified Professional Leadership Coach and Counselor | Founder, Life Inspired Inc
Develop more positive beliefs about yourself
Personality is, for the most part, fixed. We might think changing who we are would make us happier, but it would be like asking a fish to climb a tree. The fish might look at the tree and think, “I’d be so happy if I could be up there with the birds.” The fish simply isn’t built for climbing trees or breathing air.
While you can’t change who you are, you can improve who you are. You have a mixture of strengths and weaknesses. Strengths can be built up, and weaknesses can be minimized, so you live as the best version of your authentic self.
Learn your strengths and learn to acknowledge them as strengths
Acknowledging them is an important and often overlooked step. We don’t always value the parts of ourselves that are actually strengths other people don’t have.
It is that knowing within our soul that we have something of value to contribute to the world that gives us greater confidence. But we have to know it for ourselves.
Take the time to understand different personality types
Take the time to understand different personality types and you’ll see the things which come naturally to you are not easy for others.
People who are quiet, background types, for example, tend to be gifted at understanding others. They have a compassionate personality. They are naturally observant and intuitive about how other people are feeling. They don’t often see this as a gift, but they can sense tensions, fear, or hurts that other personalities miss.
This ability can make quiet, compassionate personalities invaluable at mediating or negotiating if they see compassion as a strength, not a weakness.
Knowing your strengths will improve your confidence. If you are a compassionate person with an ability to sense emotion and tensions other people don’t pick up on, you can work to enhance that skill.
A confident person living and working in areas that align with their strengths is also happier, mentally more stable, and better at relationships.
Uncover your beliefs about yourself
What we believe to be true about ourselves determines how we act. If we believe we are failures in some way, our mindset will be negative and toxic.
Negative beliefs bring out the weaknesses of our personality.
Everyone has some negative self-talk; criticisms we may have heard as a child are rooted in our brain and play on a loop, reminding us over and over again where we don’t measure up.
When those beliefs are triggered, we tend to retreat into our worst selves, and our weaknesses can take over.
Question those beliefs.
- Where did they come from?
- Are they really true or just ideas you return to over and over again out of habit?
- What else might be true?
- What are the consequences for holding on to those beliefs?
- How might life change if you let go of them?
Realizing where those beliefs came from and recognizing how they are holding us back from expressing our full personality is a step toward improving. Developing more positive beliefs about ourselves gives us the confidence to let our strengths shine.
Dr. Carly Claney, PhD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist | Director, Relational Psych
Over the years, I’ve worked with many clients struggling with how to grow and improve in ways that are beneficial to them and their lives. Here is one of my strongest suggestions for people seeking self-improvement.
Focus on what you are grateful for
Gratitude helps us to connect more fully with our current experience and amplifies our positive emotions. When we focus on what we’re grateful for, it becomes easier to be kinder to ourselves and others, strengthening our relationships, health, resilience, and overall well-being.
Beyond just the social and personal improvement that comes from gratitude, there are also career benefits as grateful people have been shown to invest their time and energy wisely, putting extra effort into goals that lead to success later on.
When faced with difficult choices, they also make better decisions, being more open-minded, persistent, and creative when following the best course of action.
Grateful people are also less likely to give up in the face of failure, meaning they’re more inclined to persevere until they achieve their goals (for instance, by studying harder or practicing more).
Gratitude has also been scientifically proven to enhance forgiveness – both in ourselves and others, giving us a more fulfilling relationship with ourselves and others. In addition, those who feel grateful tend to have closer relationships overall, due in part to a deeper appreciation for loved ones as well as a desire to repay the good deeds done for them.
Grateful people are also more likely to serve others, feel part of a community, and have a stronger sense of purpose in life – all contributing factors to improved physical health.
How to practice gratitude?
Gratitude is so much more than simply saying “thank you” more often; it’s something that needs to be mindfully practiced on a regular basis in order for there to be deep impacts in your life. Studies show that this practice of appreciation will deepen over time, leading us to appreciate some things more deeply each time they happen.
Some ways in which you can practice gratitude include:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Each evening, write down three things from the day that you were thankful for. Briefly describe how those things made you feel and why you’re so thankful for them.
- Practice gratitude meditations. These can be found for free on YouTube and will walk you through the process of visualizing things you’re thankful for feeling the strong sense of connection you have to that thing, like your body or the security of the home you’re in.
- Set a time each week to write a card, email, or text to a friend, either for their birthday or just out of the blue. Describe how much that person means to you and reflect on all the positive ways that relationship has enriched your life.
Founder and Creator, The Enjoyment Method
The most powerful way to improve your personality is to walk each day in gratitude
As we go about our journey in life, we encounter an endless variety of people and personalities.
Since I was a very young girl, it has always fascinated me that billions of people on the planet and only pairs of identical twins look the same. No other two people are even remotely close in appearance or DNA.
Some people are charismatic, magnetic, and seem to glow, while many others come across as dull, downtrodden, and just plain grumpy with personalities like fingernails on a chalkboard. Why is this?
We are all made up of energy, and energy comes in the forms of many different levels of vibrations. If someone seems to “have it all” in the areas of friends, wealth, health, happiness, peace, etc., they are described as high-vibrational beings.
On the flip side, when we encounter people who are constantly grouchy and angry and do not exude any qualities of health and wellness, they are described as vibrating on lower frequencies.
If a person wants to improve their personality, they must improve their vibrational frequency.
Unfortunately, the Western world does not talk about how to raise those frequencies tactically, but the good news is it is possible.
We must stop consuming energetically dead foods
We must enrich our bodies with high-vibrational organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, and free-range chicken and eggs.
It is important to refrain from a diet full of:
- processed and fried foods
- white flour
- fake flavors and colors
- meats and dairy full of antibiotics and hormones
This is incredibly important so that our bodies have good clean fuel to burn. When we enrich our bodies with high-frequency foods, we feel lighter, clearer, sharper, and more capable of doing the things we set out to do.
We must face our grief and trauma
As we go about our lives, most of us go through micro-traumas, macro-traumas, and extremely difficult times. The majority of us have not received proper guidelines on processing those situations.
Therefore, a vast number of people are running around life with so many wounds stuffed deep down inside them, hoping they never have to face them, but again all of that hurt is lowering the vibration of the person.
Once we can choose a path of bravery and face the hurt, it makes us happier, lighter, and again, vibrate on higher frequencies.
Choose the right circle of friends to elevate your personality
One group of friends seems to bring out the best in us and the other, quite the opposite. Each one of us has experienced this at different times over the course of our life. If it is essential to elevate your personality, it’s imperative to have an excellent group of positive friends who genuinely cheer you on.
All of the aforementioned tools and tactics can be used individually or together to really elevate a person’s vibe; however, maybe the easiest and most powerful way to begin the practice of improving your personality would be to walk each day in gratitude.
“Gratitude is the attitude.” We hear this saying so often, but it is most certainly trite and true.
Gratitude is ten times more powerful than any other emotion and ignites the entire universe to start working in your favor. It is easy to do, and it is effective. We can always find something to be grateful for.
The bottom line is if you want to improve your personality, you can do this by adding a variety of rituals into your life that elevate your frequency, so from the inside out, you glow and exhibit a more tolerable persona.
Frank Thewes, LCSW
Private Practice Mental Health Professional, PathForwardTherapy
You have to be in touch with the parts you want to improve
Our personality is the outward expression of how we have been shaped internally by a lifetime of experiences. It is the front-facing element of our emotional interior.
Improving our personality takes awareness and intent. We have to be in touch with the parts of our personality that we want to improve, and we have to make a conscious and deliberate effort to moderate those parts.
A shorthand for a plan to do this would be to find a therapist to help you understand your personality and why it is shaped the way it is, select the aspects you want to improve, learn to regulate emotional impulses through therapy, use grounding actions such as breathing exercises and mindfulness practices, and work to cultivate a calmer lifestyle.
The personality is hardwired, and making improvements to that hardwiring has to be undertaken with measured, deliberate action and with awareness that our wiring creates the automatic operation of our personality.
Set small goals across a longer period of time
We need to set small goals across a longer period of time to mark change and progress in improving parts of our personality and realize that this kind of change is difficult and can’t happen overnight. It is important also to manage expectations and realize that this process will very likely fit the “two steps forward, one step back” progression.
Expect to be discouraged at times, and you will have a realistic outlook on improving your personality.
Dr. Tracy Thomas, Ph.D.
Psychologist, Emotional Scientist, and Interventionist | CEO and Founder, Dr. Tracy Inc.
Be aware of your emotional patterns
Personality is largely influenced by the emotional patterns we have absorbed throughout our lives from our families, religions, peer groups, and social culture.
To improve personality effectively and experience long-term change from the improvement, an awareness of the patterns playing out and replacement of those patterns is essential.
These patterns include everything from reactive patterns to perceived criticism, trauma patterns from any form of PTSD, as well as childhood patterns of seeking attention and affection.
As the awareness of the patterns grows, a replacement pattern can be put in place, and with consistent and continued effort, the new pattern will become the conditioned behavior, and from there, the upgrade in personality.
Tina Hawk, SHRM-SCP, sHRBP, SSHR
SVP Human Resources, GoodHire
Self-reflection and self-understanding are so crucial
Whatever your specific goals are, improving your personality often looks like regularly taking the time to get to know who you really are. There are many ways one can practice becoming more self-aware, such as journaling, meditation, or engaging in a hobby that facilitates self-reflection.
Wanting to improve your personality can sometimes mean a person is either suffering from these in one form or another:
These feelings can often be expressed by taking it out on the people around us, but getting to the root of them is vital if we are ever going to change our behavior. That’s why self-reflection and self-understanding are so crucial.
From another perspective, we might just want to improve ourselves and become more well-rounded individuals.
In this case, broadening our horizons or stepping outside of our comfort zone can be a great way forward. Learning a new language or taking up a sport or hobby that you’ve always been a little fearful of are great examples.
Sometimes, improving our personality just means becoming less one-dimensional, and nothing remedies this as effectively as new life experience.
Don’t try to work on every single thing about your personality at once or you’ll get overwhelmed
It can be challenging to change your personality, but there are a few things that you can do to make the process a little bit easier. Here are a few tips:
- Be patient.
- It takes time to change your personality, so be patient and don’t expect to see results overnight.
- Identify your goals.
- What do you want to change about your personality? Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start working towards it.
- Be willing to experiment.
- Trying new things is essential if you want to change your personality. If something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to try something else.
- Be honest with yourself.
- It’s essential, to be honest with yourself about who you are and how other people perceive you. Once you’ve identified your personality flaws, work on fixing them.
- Set goals that are SMART.
- Make sure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Otherwise, they won’t be very effective in helping you change your personality.
- Work on the easy stuff first.
- Don’t try to work on every single thing about your personality at once, or you’ll get overwhelmed and likely quit before making any progress.
- Instead of worrying about everything, start with something simple, like talking more in social situations. Once you’ve mastered that task, move on to something else.
- Identify your triggers.
- When you feel most comfortable, that’s when it’s most challenging to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new.
- However, by identifying the situations in which you most often act in a way you’d like to change, you can find the places where it will be easiest to make a breakthrough.
My best advice is to start small. Instead of trying to change all aspects of your personality at once, pick one and take action. Remember: patience is key. Once you’ve mastered that goal, work on another.
CEO & Founder, Choice Mutual
Put yourself in different circumstances and do things you wouldn’t normally do
Even if it’s going to a new place, a long hike, or eating out by yourself, it doesn’t have to be extraordinary as long as it pushes you out of your comfort zone and gives you an opportunity to meet people.
No book or occupation can beat having your own experiences; without it, you’re just dipping into someone else’s world without building your own.
Build on your skills; there’s nothing like realizing you’re good at something.
Imposter syndrome affects us all to an extent, but knowing your worth and truly mastering your skills will help you move on from it. You’re going to spend a lot of time at work, you might as well excel in what you’re doing and be proud of it.
Director of Customer Success, We are Working
Ask how other people perceives you
I suggest a two-pronged approach:
- Ask colleagues, managers, friends, and family members to describe your personality, especially the areas which they think could be personality flaws.
- Take an online personality test such as MBTI or DiSC. These are both insightful ways to understand how others perceive you. Often, how we would describe ourselves is not in complete alignment with how others see us.
Our reactions to factors like prolonged stress or pain can cause our personalities to change even in the short term.
Set a goal for something you would like to change
Once you understand your true personality type, how your behavior is impacted by stress, and how others perceive you, you can set a goal for something you would like to change or improve in your personality and relationships.
For example, if you discover you are perceived as rigid, you may decide you want to become more open. Write down your goal in a notebook or journal, and then think about tactics and strategies for becoming more open.
Do some research on the topic, and set some small goals such. In the example of being more open, this can be as simple as trying something new, listening to a podcast that has a different perspective than your own, talk less and listen more.
Founder and CEO, Z Grills Australia
You develop ideas and fresh perspectives when you learn about the realities of different people
Though we use character and personality interchangeably, there is a notable difference between the two.
Character pertains to the set of moral beliefs and principles we uphold, while personality is the totality of our attitude and behavior, the latter making us distinct among others. Our personality changes through our personal experiences over time. But, an individual who is intentional in being better pursues personality development.
There are many ways to improve your personality, but here are three essential things that we believe can yield excellent results:
- Engage and interact more, especially with people from various backgrounds, races, or cultures.
- Read a lot. By reading, you gain insights and diverse perspectives about reality.
- Develop hobbies and interests beyond your phone screen and digital devices. Sure, social media is a good start at interaction with your social group, but your interests can be potential conversation starters that lead you to make more meaningful connections.
When you learn about the realities of different people and what you are used to, you develop ideas, a new sense of compassion, and fresh perspectives. Your thoughts and outlook in life begin to change. It affects your attitude toward yourself and others.
Eventually, it will spark a transformation in your behavior and overall personality.
Co-Founder and Chief Editor, Total Shape
Many people feel that our personality is fixed and we can’t do anything about it. But that’s a total lie! We can revamp our whole personality and rewrite our behaviors or manners. Our personality can be improved for the better, increasing our quality of life and boosting our self-esteem.
Work on your mindset
When we want to change things around us or within ourselves, we need to change the way we perceive the world. Only by changing the outlook we can change our outward expressions. So, develop an open, positive, and growth mindset.
Working on our mindset allows us to understand different perspectives, conflicting narratives, and different personalities. Not only this, a growth mindset helps us build resilience and adaptability.
The knowledge we develop from developing an open mindset can make us better at dealing with people and carrying ourselves among people. Our personality often gets damaged for behaving out of immaturity, so the first step should always be to wipe out that immaturity from our minds.
Stop getting driven by emotions
Just like our lives are temporary, our feelings are also temporary. One day we would feel as if nothing matters, and the next day we would find ourselves enjoying the party. So, we should stop getting influenced by our emotions. But that doesn’t mean that we should suppress our emotions as it is unhealthy in the long run.
We should find a better way to communicate our emotions rather than instinctively acting on them.
We can communicate our emotions better, or we can even journal our extreme emotions. Getting our feet on the ground with calmness lifts our image among people. Other than that, we also would be free of our regrets on being impulsive and hasty.
Writing daily on a journal and smiling more are powerful self-improvement tools
An ultimate self-improvement strategy that I believe in and which has helped me get to where I am today involves the following two activities:
- Daily journaling
- Writing about your life, about your day, what you experience, and how you experience it is a powerful self-improvement tool.
- This method affords you data sets on yourself and your behavior, thus helping you make gradual but permanent and positive improvements to your personality.
- Smile more
- A welcoming smile is always a powerful tool to help you transform your personality and make your life much better. Practice smiling daily in front of your mirror, and this will enable you to overcome anxiety when around people and cultivate boldness that improves your personality.
Chief Operating Officer, LuckLuckGo
You become more fun when you have an ice-breaking sense of humor or can humorously make light of terrible situations. People will want to stay around you more if you can make them laugh or create a funny perspective from the regular life activities.
Being serious and sober-minded all the time becomes unexciting. A charming personality can be created by being witty and using that trait appropriately.
Accept others’ imperfections
People should feel comfortable around you despite their shortcomings. Making people feel good about themselves and not being self-conscious is a crucial personality trait. Don’t talk to people about their imperfections and what they lack all the time.
Related: How to Be Less Self-Conscious
While it is okay to advise your friends on how to self-improve, you shouldn’t come off as condescending or judgmental.
To be adaptable means that you change with time and are not stuck in your ways. It means you are flexible and willing to try new ideas and practices. Being dynamic brings about an infectious, attractive, and bright personality. It makes you spontaneous, meaning you do not plan every bit of your life down to the last.
While planning is good, there should be a balance between what you plan and what you don’t.
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