Monday, January 11, 2016

One Man in his Time Plays Many Parts

Have you noticed that adults' habits are usually credited to their personality, whereas those of children are labelled 'behaviour'?

Behaviour is something we see as changeable; personality usually not.

Common sense dictates that the older we are, the harder we find it to change. And of course, a person should gain more control over their impulses as they mature.

But, it seems most of our personality is actually determined by our genes, at birth, so even the youngest children are 'fixed' to a significant extent. And adults can respond and adapt in face of even great trauma and upheaval. They are not a slave to their very Self and history, however many years they have walked the earth.

My two-year-old son is much more of a daydreamer than his twin sister. It can be a battle to Get Things Done, with him. Socks, for example. Buggy boarding. But it is quite clear to me that this is about his personality, not his behaviour. If I strive to alter it, I cause everybody stress (especially him).

And when I dimiss out of hand another adult as grumpy, superficial, self-absorbed, I forget that they may be tired, hungry, sad, insecure and for any number of reasons, quite capable of behaving very differently tomorrow or next year.

I like personality tests and think it's important to be able to assess myself, critically. I also like considering ways I can better my childrens' behaviour. But I think it's wrong to view my Self as a fixed and unchanging thing. And I realise the only real power I have over my children is the power to overburden them.

I will try to carefully and respectfully listen to who people are, whatever their age. And allow for the fact we are all changing and perfecting, every single day of our lives, however many days we believe we have left.

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