October 17, 2015

Don't Confuse Personality for Character: The Difference between Personality and Character

"When a sinister person means to be your enemy, they always start by trying to become your friend."-William Blake


“The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.”- Julius Caesar


It's easy to meet people who share common interests with us. The internet is filled with countless websites, fan blogs, and forums dedicated to specific interests. Now finding people who enjoy the same music, movies, or TV shows is only a click away.

We often become friends with people based on common interests, whether we meet them in real life or online. There is nothing wrong with this, however, I worry that people, especially young people mistake having common interests with someone has something deeper than it actually is.

So many people base their decisions on who they will date or become friends with based on their first encounters. So many times I've heard people say, "but they were so nice/funny/cool" only to find out later on that the person they are referring to turned out so be someone completely different than they thought. Why is this?

It's because personality and character are very different from one another. Our personality traits are how we interact with the outside world, they're almost like defense mechanisms. The overly nice person you know could be hiding deep insecurities of being rejected, the person with a great sense of humor could be an attention-seeker who hates to be ignored.

There are many reasons why we have the personality traits that we do, both positive and negative. The point is that, none of these things really define who we are. Our character, the side of us most of us don't immediately show, is who we really are. This why it is important to take time to get to know someone before taking the friendship or relationship too seriously. It's also important to see how this person interacts with other people because that will give you a glimpse into who they really are.


Examples Personality of Traits:

-Introverted or Extraverted

-Likes and Dislikes

-Friendliness and sense of humor


Examples of Character Traits:

-Amount of empathy shown towards others

-Intelligence (this includes common sense and not just book smarts)

-How they make decisions

-Personal beliefs

-How they feel about themselves in relation to others

-How they deal with hardships


This is also why it's so easy for psychopaths to deceive people because they can easily mirror our personality traits, however once you dig a little deeper you will find that the character of a psychopath is nothing like the character of a normal person.

There is nothing wrong with making friends or acquaintances with people we share common interests with, but it's important to remember that these kinds of relationships really are superficial in nature and should not be confused with deeper relationships.

I've known people who have absolutely nothing in common on the surface, and yet are perfectly compatible because their character traits match up.


I thought this was interesting, this is Maslow's list of characteristics of self-actualizers which I think is a good example of positive character traits:


-Efficient perceptions of reality. Self-actualizers are able to judge situations correctly and honestly.

-They are very sensitive to the fake and dishonest, and are free to see reality 'as it is'.

-Comfortable acceptance of self, others, nature. Self-actualizers accept their own human nature with all its flaws. The shortcomings of others and the contradictions of the human condition are accepted with humor and tolerance.

-Reliant on own experiences and judgment. Independent, not reliant on culture and environment to form opinions and views.

-Spontaneous and natural. True to oneself, rather than being how others want.

-Task centering. Most of Maslow's subjects had a mission to fulfill in life or some task or problem ‘beyond’ themselves (instead of outside of themselves) to pursue. Humanitarians such as Albert Schweitzer are considered to have possessed this quality.

-Autonomy. Self-actualizers are free from reliance on external authorities or other people. They tend to be resourceful and independent.

-Continued freshness of appreciation. The self-actualizer seems to constantly renew appreciation of life's basic goods. A sunset or a flower will be experienced as intensely time after time as it was at first. There is an "innocence of vision", like that of an artist or child.

-Profound interpersonal relationships. The interpersonal relationships of self-actualizers are marked by deep loving bonds.

-Comfort with solitude. Despite their satisfying relationships with others, self-actualizing persons value solitude and are comfortable being alone.

-Non-hostile sense of humor. This refers to the ability to laugh at oneself.

-Peak experiences. All of Maslow's subjects reported the frequent occurrence of peak experiences (temporary moments of self-actualization). These occasions were marked by feelings of ecstasy, harmony, and deep meaning. Self-actualizers reported feeling at one with the universe, stronger and calmer than ever before, filled with light, beautiful and good, and so forth.

-Socially compassionate. Possessing humanity.

-Few friends. Few close intimate friends rather than many surface relationships.

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