Much though some philosophers and uber liberals would like to beleive, we are not actually free thinking, existential beings. We are to some extent preprogrammed at birth, by our parental upbringing, by our childhood experiences (especially trauma) , by our hormones, by our education, by our social groups....and so on. As they say in darkest Aberdeenshire, the "the biy is the faithir o' the man'"
However we have the freedom to change or to perhaps accept that we have changed. The middle aged me is surprisingly different and yet often more similar to the prototype me than the supposedly mature 30 something me. I have changes maybe in some predictable ways, becoming more emotionally stable, more structured, maybe a little more dependable. Also i am allowing myself to be a little less extrovert, a l.ot more sceptical and interested to mirror behaviour rather than run around like a lapping, barking dog looking for company, expecting everyone to be my friend, as I think I could be at times.
Personality is not a very, very dynamic thing though. It can be drastically altered by chance events, such as emotional trauma or of course brain damage. The most well known story is really kind of the birth or root of evidence for neuroscience and epi-phenonmenology. A certain Mr. Phineas Gauge and his dynamite tamping rod accident. This is a fact, his skull is on displlay post mortem, and although you can of course argue about the actual personality changes noted from the accounts of family and acquaintances, he did survive and was changed in personality.
Personality is of course a coping mechanism for the world around us. However just like the new alpha male in the wolf pack, often we harbour ambitions or have ambition and social position thrust upon us by chance events, through which we kind of adopt a new persona and start behaving differently. We have in fact in many cultures, a great deal of restraint placed upon our personalities. We have social norms, religious conventions and peer pressure, all holding us down in the more presbyterian, muslim or jesuit community. We get knocked down to size or kept in our place by the kind of pecking orders which develop through out life, from the playground to the workplace to the old folks home!
Some of us then cope better because we were predisposed or learned enough to get along with our fellow social homo sapiens. I never quite did in some ways, reflected most in work becauuse I like to change job frequently, and also dont fit in in very structured, authoritarian or staid workplaces. I developed a big anger explosion thing, which I think was related to cannibis use in part, and weekly drinking sessions which could go quite large. I suddenly lost the plot in emotional situations or under stress and became angry to the verge of violent. It kind of reflected my past and it kind of carried on, until the fuse actually got shorter! This was explained to me at a management course about anger in the workplace and at home, that really it isnt going to get better without some conscious training to avoid it, becauuse it is a biiological mechanism, fight or flight, which is being switched on.
I realised also that I had spent many years or periods of my life in 'flight' mode. Ready to run. Backing down from fights and conflict. Also I didnt quite trust people or situations to be any good for me, I expected disappointment or was sceptical to values of endeavour. So being able to stop up and be 'mindful' of my current status and why the sitatuiin is eliciting this response, is quite a normal tool for many, but one I had to learn in middle-bloody-age, tail between legs, But at least in terms of the BIG FIVE, I am a seeker, I like and strtive indeed for new experiences and ideas. We are neophiles for holidays, hating to go the same place twice on principle!
In the big five then, which are actually not a terribly good predictor of perrformanc in a job, somewhat better in team dynamics it has to be said, or in particular forms of leadership like the 'transformational' boss, where have I travelled?
Well I am at odds with myself because I have always been looking for the new, enjoying the excitement of the new, while also being quite extrovert I believed, seeking new people too, But in fact my extroversion is probabkly driven by a good dose of neuroticism as well as my open ness and neophillia. I wanted new experiences with people, but in fact I am not v ery externally centred, I am very inner directed in terms of values and expectations in relationships. I have a fundamental conflict there because where I live, in the harbour town, people are a little the opposite of me- stable, boring, and self centred as a social group if not as individuals. They are by in large NeoPhobic. I hate it here sometimes. In fact of course this fundamental conflict only gets amplified here due to the cliques and the flat social norms expected.
Ok let me think then on the big five, each one to ten, where was I when I was say a young man at Uni and a young Graduate?
Openness / Exploration - probably around 8 or 9
Sability Probaly below five
Conscientiousness Probably about 6 or 7 if you take final year and jobs maybe even 8
Extraversion - well was I really that extrovert, or was I driven to meet people without being that interested in them? I would say I was a six but maybe I was only a 3
Neuroticism . yep, pretty high up at 8 or even 9 sometimes.
How then does the old me rate here?
Openness / Well that is maybe even 10 right now
SDtability - is up a bit over 5, but I still have some issues areound anger and tacking rejection
Conscientiousness / about 8 I'd say, relative to my age about that. Relative to society and colleagues, I am well over average and that has a negaitve effect on my stress level to be honest. I am not maybe a natural at this, like my daughter. I am quite laid back really and not very interested in more than 'cramming' and getting through, less in doing a good slow job and getting on slowly but steadily.
Extraversion. Well here and now I am toning that down, looking to read other people, not rushing in to be in the gang or anyones best mate. I am also looking to get to know shy people more, because before in life I didnt tolerate them well, until Gill came along. So maybe I am naturally actually a 4?
Neuroticsim. Well now I just have bouts of this, and it is a bit situatioin and person dependent, I am also growing out a lot of this on a day to day basis, in parrt due to CBT coursing in rleation to assertive workplaces, and then I took the personal , 3 month course of evening meetings and homework on it. Every manager should do this cognitive based therapy course, it could help them personally and to get much more out of a team, or turn difficult employees around. BTW. I am definetly in a transition between a lot of stress in life and not tackling it very well, and a new slightly laid back, sceptical type I am becoming in respect of many situations which are a nit mundane, like working life to be frank.
In terms of a new partner, and there will be one out there for me believe me, where does this all stand? Well there is truth in both birds-of-a-feather and opposties-attract I believe, alhtough the studies show the best correalation between those lilttle bring matching cardigan types who are highly similar on the big five, or the core three.
I would need an openness lady. 5 would pass if she made up for it in other ways.
I would need a failry stable lady, not prone to negativity or volatitlity. Pretty horizontal that way.
I would need a failry conscietntious, but with the right priorities, bnot nazi about house work`
Extraversion? I dont know, I quite like shy, but they have to be good at putting me first sometimes, and us first most all the time. So shy can be good - it is not a true reflection of extraversion. You may be shy, but actually very empathetic and interested in other people, you just have a social angst from instability or neuroticism, or just lack the tools in extraversion communication.
Neurotiicism. Well a bit is ok, it makes for someone who maybe isnt dull and flat.
Where have i been in my last marriage?
Control , she has a high need for control. This is driven by her conscientiousness and her neuroticism., She is ultra high on both really, although she is quite stable, to the point of arrogance. Openness is also high, on the side of flightyness up at 9 or even 10. Exraversion is higher than mine, she centres around peoplke and not experiences as I do.
I need someone with far less need for control, and less neuroticism and conscientiousness.
I could say that Narrie Nar was not really in the picture there, she was too unstable. She wasnt neurotic, but she lacked a stabiklity thing. She had had childhood trauma you see. Sandra, my first love as a young man, was really all that I could want, easy going, a bit consientious, caring and outgoing enouugh without being flirty annoying, and a little new seeking but not much. Gill was the big hit. Shy, but not introvert, oriented mostly around other people, but not a lot to say always for herself. We had a real chemistry, a boind, which was kind of greater than sandra or 'nita narr. Nita was flightly and flirty and super extrovert. I thought I related to her better than Gill but in truth, Gill was kind of a toirch light into the new, mellower future. I ended up with a highly new seeking, neurotic and bossy type who really has some issues now, but has made a good deal of my late 30s and 40s troublesome and unusually hard work, or rather futile in effort. We just couldnt resolve it all, there was too big a different, even though we are quite similar in terms of the big five . She is anxious, negative and very judgemental. I wonder what hobby she will take up now, after perfecting criticising me as a sport for the last 15 years?
Now you can of cours plot out the big five to look at behaviours and attitiudes like CONTROLLING or non collaborative or what have you. I have a high need for control, but also am laid back enough to go with the flow. However I have learned to push back on being dominated. I have a high need for newness, or rather trhive with that, but could grow out of it.
In effect I feel just his last couple of months to really have finally grown the hell up, just in time to accept myself and become a horny teenager all over again!