What Is Personality Change?

We’ve all wished we could be someone else, whether it’s just polishing a few dull spots in our personality or fully rewriting the story of our lives, Jay Gatsby-style. If you're a procrastinator, you may have wished you could be more productive; if you're gloomy, you may have hoped you could be more optimistic; if you're shy, you may have longed to be the life of the party. Changing your core personality traits (e.g., introversion) is difficult. But what you can change is your behavior. It's never too late to do what you want to do, and with a little sweat and a little luck, you can break out of old patterns and be just who you want to be.

Recent Posts on Personality Change

Are You in Love With a Narcissist and Still Hopeful?

By Peg Streep on September 01, 2015 in Tech Support
It's true enough that most of us hang in far longer than we should in toxic relationships, especially with a narcissistic partner. Some of that has to do with hopefulness that our partner and relationship will change. Is that magical thinking? Looking at recent research....

The Traumatized Brain

A new blog about brain injury from the authors of the upcoming book, The Traumatized Brain: A Family Guide to Understanding Mood, Memory, and Behavior after Brain Injury.

Personality Challenges, Perfectionism, and Self-Compassion

By Dan Mager MSW on August 31, 2015 in Some Assembly Required
Having compassion for oneself means that we can honor our humanness by accepting ourselves—even during those times when we inevitably come up against our limitations and fall short of our ideals.

LSD, Suggestibility, and Personality Change

A recent study found that LSD increases suggestibility. Research suggests that psychedelic drug use can increase openness to unusual ideas, such as spiritual and paranormal beliefs, in the long-term. Could this be be due to a long-lasting increase in suggestibility and related personality traits?

The Bundy Effect

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on August 18, 2015 in Shadow Boxing
The Bundy Effect is the ability to create multiple impressions, fluidly and effectively, to achieve a goal.

Suffer From Social Anxiety? Doing Something For Others Helps

By Douglas LaBier Ph.D. on August 14, 2015 in The New Resilience
Social anxiety diminishes when you serve others in some way. Research finds that doing something that helps another person pulls you out of self-absorption, which is a part of social anxiety.

Bicycle Days

By David Ludden Ph.D. on August 13, 2015 in Talking Apes
We, as a society, have convinced ourselves that we have to ride a motorized vehicle everywhere we go. Even when walking or biking would be faster, we tell ourselves that driving is safer. Yet our love affair with cars—as well as our dread of physical exertion—underlies our national epidemic of obesity and depression.

Three Paradoxical Ways for Coping With Romantic Abundance

Romantic love is often characterized as involving a great deal of sensitivity, excitement, and closeness. However, our cyber society often provides an overabundance of these features. Hence, a few opposite principles are proposed: (a) Indifference is the new romantic sensitivity; (b) Calmness is the new romantic excitement; and (c) Distance is the new romantic closeness.

Does Change Come from Within?

The environmental location of causality—change comes from without rather than from within—is awfully convenient for therapists, who happen to find themselves in their patients’ environments.

Worried About a Midlife Crisis? Don't. There's No Such Thing

The midlife crisis is one of those urban legends that refuses to go away, no matter how much evidence question its universality. The latest evidence to refute the midlife crisis myth shows, yet again, that there are no massive personality upheavals when the decade marker strikes four-zero.

Relational Activity as Therapeutic for the Mentally Ill

Freud indicated that love and work are the elements of happiness in life. Too often, the mentally ill receive little relational activity that would have a substantial impact on their functioning. This article emphasizes the need to bolster relational skills in mentally ill individuals.

June 26 and the LGBT Phone Explosion

By Susan B. Winston LMFT on July 05, 2015 in Shift Happens
Cells phones were on fire on June 26 with the Supreme Court announcement making same sex marriage legal in all states. So were phones of many therapists. This was a day for coming out, not just saying "I do". And for some it was a day of wondering if they were LGBT or if their children were. So how do you answer those questions?

Orange is the New Bleak: What the SHU Can Do to Your Brain

By Jordan Gaines Lewis on July 03, 2015 in Brain Babble
What happens to the inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary when they're sent to the SHU? Not much; that's why it's so terrible.

Creative Rehabilitation, Part 2: Severe Head Injury

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on June 21, 2015 in Trouble in Mind
Severe head injury is a family's worse nightmare. Are there ways to make the recovery process less stressful and even fun?

Hacking Hatred — What Drives People to Hate and Kill

Hacking hatred and what drives someone to hate and then to kill

Stories of Seclusion: A Person Became Reclusive As She Aged

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on June 06, 2015 in How To Do Life
An installment in a series on people who spend much time alone.

Conversational Courage

How can you summon your courage to engage in conversations that improve your relationships and your results? Here are three steps you can take to create quality conversations.

Can You Grow From the Loss of Love?

The painful experience of a lost love relationship can spur positive emotional growth, depending on how you deal with its impact.

Return of the King—LeBron James, That Is

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers' sweep of the Atlanta Hawks last night to capture the Eastern Conference title and earn themselves a trip to the NBA Championship Series is—certainly for Cavs fans—cause for considerable celebration. And what a vindication! . . .

12 Tips for Greater Psychological Health

Six personal qualities are considered "mature defenses" and can contribute to a happier and healthier life. This blog outlines these traits and some suggestions for how to develop them.

Yes, You Are Probably Biased:

Scientific evidence declares that prejudice is an inherent part of every person; we are genetically wired to be racist, sexist, ethnocentric, etc. However, does that justify the discrimination and consequential brutality that are so rife in our society? The answer is NO. Catch your triggers and choose to make different choices about how you will react.

Fake Your Way to Happiness

The idea that our identities are not set in stone but novels in the making is exhilarating. It grants us freedom, especially if we are depressed, to create a more vital character.

5 Warning Signs of Mental Health Risk

The American Psychological Association, with help from First Lady Michelle Obama, has launched a campaign to encourage troubled Americans to seek care for mental health problems. What are the warning signs?

4 Ways You Can Really Make Yourself Happier

Whether a positive event will make us happy depends more on our natural inclinations to be negative or positive than the perceived good outcomes of the event.

Can Narcissists Ever Change?

We tend to associate narcissism with psychological problems that impact a variety of everyday behaviors and relationships. However, according to a new theory of narcissism, one of the three basic types has the chance to grow up psychologically healthy.

After the Germanwings Crash, 7 Lessons About Mental Illness

By Carrie Barron M.D. on March 30, 2015 in The Creativity Cure
Not all depressions are alike. Severe depression with psychotic features may elude a clinician as they are well masked or not present at the time of the exam. Symptoms ebb and flow, troubled people can be high functioning and we have much to uncover about the conditions of the Germanwings co-pilot.

Changing Our Perspectives on Mental Illness and Health

Addicts and those with co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD are frequently overwhelmed by shame. This is not just an internal issue of being ashamed of past behaviors.

7 Ways Your Relationship Can Change Who You Are

Who you are is less stable than you think, especially when it comes to the influence of romantic partners.

I May Be Past My Peak But I’m Not Over the Hill

By David F. Swink on February 04, 2015 in Threat Management
There are many benefits and risks of extreme sports. When are you too old to do them?

Shame and Motivation to Change

By Lisa Rivero M.A. on January 29, 2015 in Creative Synthesis
We know the feeling only too well: Our pulse quickens. Our faces flush. The feeling is so bad that we want to escape at all costs. But is shame always bad?