Trying Out Personality Characteristics

I found myself in the bathroom just now talking to the mirror. I had read a news article about how Trump followers continued to support him even after six months of dangerous foolishness.

I was imagining talking to one of these defiant supporters and found myself getting fairly worked up (keeping in mind that I’m a Canadian).

“So you’re a special kind of American who is okay with Russia helping to elect our President. You support him anyway.

“Russia, you know, the Cold War, Kennedy, Khrushchev, Cuba, the Bay of Pigs, nuclear annihilation, Gorbachov, Afghanistan, Putin, Crimea…

“You’re okay with that Russia influencing our elections for President?

“We call that kind of ‘special’ American a traitor!”

These kinds of lines were delivered several times, each time with some alteration or refinement until the feeling of righteous indignation was fired up. The feeling was thin though and didn’t seem to have much depth or richness, just the joys of indignation, which are considerable.

Since I’m a Canadian this is all a bit moot for me in practical terms, but the payoff was the feelings that were generated. I tried on righteous indignation and it wasn’t a good fit for me right now.

This was big fun for me though, and something that I do regularly, especially when stimulated by a movie, or some news item, or even a song can bring out this ‘play acting’ side of me.

I usually do this in private but in those sublime moments when everyone is relaxed and accepting, perhaps has had a cocktail or whatever, we can sometimes actually play out these parts with each other, with the understanding that we are donning costumes and playing roles.

What was new this time was the immediate, gut-level understanding that I was trying out a personality trait. Kris has been helping us to understand our personalities lately and has described how we have a vast bank of traits and characteristics to draw from.

What I caught myself doing was trying a personality trait on for size.

Using language and imagery I ginned up the emotions until I began to feel the part – righteous indignation in this case – and then I observed how it felt at a deeper level.

Was it fulfilling? Did it offer creative opportunities that were attractive and interesting? How did it fit in with the rest of my preferences and values? Did it feel right?

This realization, coupled with my recent understanding that I am not my personality but that I can add to it, these two ideas sort of meshed in my experience and I suddenly saw that I was trying out different personality traits all the time.

Movies and books, all forms of ‘entertainment’ really, were all about ‘trying on’ a particular personality trait until we got the feeling tone of it.

We then compared that expression, and especially that feeling tone, with what we liked about our present personality, and the various directions we were contemplating moving into.

If it was not a good fit we dropped it, but sometimes it seemed like a really good fit and we adopted it.

This reminds me of that iconic movie ‘Taxi Driver’ where Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) looks into the mirror and draws his gun.

‘You looking at me!”

In that case, he decided to adopt and enact that personality trait and the drama unfolds in a particular direction.

We also regularly try out and then adopt, or reject, certain personality traits that will then influence how the drama of our own life unfolds.

What qualities would you like to add to your present personality?

One thought on “Trying Out Personality Characteristics

  1. A cautionary tale is a young person who in seeking value goes off to a far off land and volunteers to play a role in their conflict: rescue the refugees, etc. and when confronted with a “real” imminent death, martyr like as a result of this unrealistic choice has an existential experience jumping out of his body to cocoon self while his mortal coil is cut. A dangerous game.


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