What is personality development?
It’s a question many people interested in personality development ask and yet, only a few get lucky enough to find the right answer.
Personality development, also known as personal development is a word people use as per their convenience.
The (so-called) life-skills-training and personality development companies want you to believe that it is about different skills and how to sharpen them.
Communication skills, and so on.
Such training and placement companies want you to believe that it’s also about:
Resolving conflicts between two parties
Facing interviews (what type of underwear gels with what kind of trousers)
Getting a job
And that’s it.
That’s personality development for them.
Personality Development Training Companies (The Truth)
Something interesting happened when I was starting into personality development coaching in 2011.
A life-skills-training company based out of Noida, Uttar Pradesh had selected me as a freelance trainer for conducting training sessions in colleges of Western Uttar Pradesh on their behalf.
They informed me that I had to attend a one-day training and orientation program in their office, so I went.
I had a lot of curiosity and optimism because the name of that company was one of the most sacred words from Hindu philosophy. And I had pretty much high expectation from them.
But as soon as the session began, I found out something shocking – they were not only disgracing that beautiful word but were also making students believe that the nonsense they were teaching was “Personality Development.”
Later I came to know that the mastermind behind that company now calls himself “Acharya.”
Can you see the irony here?
A person having no goddamn idea about how young minds work and how one should train them now projects himself a “Guru.” I mean, are you kidding me?
And it’s not just about that company; it’s the story of many (so-called) personality development and life skills training companies.
Such people manipulate young college students to believe in some stupid stuff, (which, of course, they call unique) in the name of personal development.
The truth is that people running such companies have no clue about personality development whatsoever, and they are operating as puppets in the hands of college authorities – the people sitting in the chairs of directors, deans and chairpersons of colleges.
People in authoritative positions in colleges have got everything in place, like land, money and political power but they lack common sense and emotional connect with their students.
I am sorry to say this, but their only aim is to make money out of students – they don’t care what happens to the students. They have no vision for the future of their students.
Yes, I know the truth is hard to swallow, but it is what it is.
Personality Development and Positive Thinking
Next in line are positive thinkers.
You know, the ‘new age gurus.’
They believe that personality development is all about positive thinking.
Well, you’d be disappointed to know that positive thinking is not personality development.
Yes, the path to personal growth passes through positive thinking, but it’s just a milestone and not the destination itself.
Personal growth is something different. And only a few people willing to risk without any guarantee of success can walk down this path.
So what is it?
Personality development is about being the master of your thoughts and emotions.
But How Is It Different from Positive Thinking?
You see, right now your mind is controlling you.
The mind thinks negative most of the times, (or positive at times when you push it hard).
But most of the times your mind controls you.
It drives you crazy like a car which runs on its own and stops when it wishes.
Your mind has become your master. And personality development is about reclaiming your ownership.
So, How Do I Regain Control Over My Mind?
Here are three practical steps.
1. You wake up to the fact that mind has become your master and you must reclaim your authority. This realisation is not just a thought but a burning desire to change your life which could only happen when you get sick and tired of the mind being your master.
2. You start working to turn negative thoughts into positive ones.
3. You begin succeeding in thinking positive and gain a little control over your mind.
And then, when you get stuck between option A and B, you ask for guidance.
“Should I take this job or that one?”
“What is better at this time – searching for a job or starting my business?”
“Should I choose a career in the medical field or sports?”
You start getting the knack of figuring out what’s right for you. It feels incredible, but wait; you are still not there.
4. You start watching your thoughts instead of getting identified with them, and they start disappearing. This stage is called ‘living in the present moment’. And then a day comes when most of your thoughts fade away.
Now you don’t think negative or even positive.
You don’t think any longer, not that you can’t, but because you don’t need to.
Now you know what is right for you. The need to consider and analyse cease to exist. You become your own master.
That’s personal development.
Want to Develop a Better Personality? Here Are Some Tips
The first step to growing as a better person is to accept who you are.
Did you notice the word personal (ity) starts with ‘personal?’ And if you’re keen to find out what is personality development, then you must find out who you are as a person.
You see, personality development relates to you as a person – who you are – your unique personality traits – the way you feel about yourself.
It’s about your strengths, talents, likes, and dislikes. It’s about you.
There’s no such thing as a perfect personality, so don’t waste your time chasing that mirage.
Yes, you can become better at who you already are. And that can only be done if you accept yourself the way you are – at this very moment.
1. Understand What is Personality
There are two aspects of your personality:
Core – Who You Are
Circumference – The Skills You Have
The Core of your being remains unchanged throughout your life because that’s your real nature, that’s who you are.
On the other hand, Circumference keeps changing and improving as you keep on learning newer and better skills.
2. Find Out the ‘Core’ of Your Personality
Let me give you my example:
I cherish my individuality. In other words, I am a solo player. I feel comfortable when I am alone, not that I don’t like people, but I prefer my privacy. And I am kind of crazy about it.
Watching a movie all by myself is a breeze for me, and also, I like to go alone to restaurants and parks. If someone wishes to come along, that’s OK, but I don’t ask anyone to give my company. I feel comfortable that way.
That’s my Core.
Find out your Core and then start making it better.
3. Don’t Try Changing Your Core
That’s a challenge because everybody around you wants to change yourself to fit in.
Let me tell you my story:
My cousin was doing a computer course when I completed my 10+2.
Since I had no idea what I wanted to make my career in, I thought I should also enrol for a short-term course in the same computer institute.
You see, I wanted to test the waters first – my choice was a six months course. But guess what, my father thought otherwise. “You should do the same as your cousin. Enrol in a 3-year course.”
I didn’t want to because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. But I had no option, so I reluctantly said yes. And within the first three months, I realised that it wasn’t my cup of tea. I somehow managed to complete two years, but then I quit. The time, the money, the efforts – all went into vain.
Don’t Fall for the Trap of ‘Fitting In’
Never try to change your Core just because somebody else is doing something that you ‘think’ you also must do. That’s suicidal.
Now that I know my Core, I never try to change it. I know I am a solo player, and I don’t have any wish to become a team player.
If despite being an individual player, I try hard to become a team player to get approval from my peers, family or society, I’ll be in constant trouble all my life.
Because I would be trying to achieve something that’s impossible, it’s like trying to walk with my head rather than my feet.
There’s nothing wrong in being a team player or an individual player. Both are right in their sense, but you must focus on what you are.
For example, cricket is a team sport, and only good team players can excel at that.
On the other hand, bodybuilding is an individual sport and people who are inclined more towards performing alone can excel at it.
So you see, both cricket and bodybuilding are unique and beautiful sports and so are the people who participate in them.
4. Accept Who You Are
Accept who you are and keep improving the real you – this is one of the most critical personality development tips for students.
If you are a team player, great, that’s your Core. On the Circumference, you can sharpen your skills to become a better team player.
If you’re an individual player, that’s fine, too. Then you should learn to improve your skills to become a better solo player.
5. Accept the Fact that You Cannot Change Everything
The problem arises when you confuse the Core, which is unchangeable, with your Circumference, which is changeable.
If you get influenced by the people around you – your classmates, parents, and society in general that it’s wrong to work alone – that you must be a team player – then you’re fucked.
The more you try to change your core, the messier your life gets. You start doubting yourself. “Oh! There must be something wrong with me. Why can’t I become a team player?”
You try harder and get knocked out again and again, and it becomes a never-ending struggle.
There’s no need to fall into this trap. Just accept who you are. Accept your Core.
The only way to improve your personality is to identify your Core and do everything you can to enhance your Circumference.
6. Release Your Suppressed Energy
Somebody had said once, “The fear of offending someone is more powerful than the fear of death.” And that’s true. We all try to please people around us (consciously or unconsciously), so we could earn respect, validation and become popular.
And when it comes to express your emotions, most of the times you hold back, so your feelings don’t get control over you. The sentiment that we control the most is anger. And when angst remains unexpressed, it poisons your whole life because you’re untrue to yourself.
Let’s say you’re angry at your college principal, or your father. You wanted to say nasty things, but couldn’t because you must no yell at elders – that’s unacceptable.
So, instead of releasing your anger, you suppress it to appear respectful. What do you think will happen to the violence and anxiety that was boiling inside you? It will get accumulated and then it’ll start affecting your day-to-day activities.
You’ll start getting irritated at even the most trivial things: Somebody just pushed you in the Metro because the coach was overcrowded, and you’ll lose your temper. You’ll start getting tense even sitting alone – it’s the suppressed anger that’s taking control of you.
The solution – release it.
You can do that with the help of any physical activity that demands intense physical exertion.
Take your pick.
Consider “Dynamic Meditation”
Osho has devised a technique to release your suppressed energy – not only anger but also sadness, depression and various other negative emotions. It is called “Dynamic Meditation”, and it’s one of my favourites.
Wear comfortable clothes. Play some loud music – preferably heavy metal or any other music to awaken the wildness, the craziness within you. And then go crazy for about 20 – 30 minutes.
Do whatever you feel like – dance, shout, cry, scream or make faces. Initially, you’ll need to put in some efforts, but after some practice, you’ll get it. If you could let go, the body shall start expressing itself the way it wants. Once the session is over, you’ll find yourself amazingly calm.
The proper technique to release your suppressed energy is called Dynamic meditation. You can participate in that meditation if there’s an Osho meditation centre in your neighbourhood. The timings are 6:30 to 7:30 in the morning throughout the year.
If you live in Delhi, visit Osho Dham. They organise various meditation camps throughout the year. Log on to OshoWorld.com for details.
7. Don’t be Over-concerned About Others’ Opinion
It was 1991.
I was spending summer vacations in my village. One afternoon my father asked me to start wearing pyjama instead of trousers. I was confused.
Some ‘Wise’ person in the village was offended seeing me wearing trousers because he never wore anything except ‘Kurta Pyjama.’
Can you see how stupid some people can be?
I am not saying that you should not listen to others, you should. Looking at others’ opinion might help you clear your perspective, and you may also get to learn something beneficial. But don’t let others decide how you should live your life because that’s a little too much.
Draw a line between understanding someone’s point of view and letting them intimidate you with their judgements. Live your life as you see fit.
8. Be Vulnerable
Quite often, in my personality development workshops, I ask a silly question –“Do you watch porn?”
Most of the students get the shock of their lives when they hear this. Girls get red with shame, boys laugh – some sit with their mouth wide open in surprise, and some have a disgusted look on their faces.
Almost always nobody answers, and then, after keeping mum for some moments, finally, I speak – “Well, I do.” Then comes loud laughter followed by pin-drop silence – rarely does someone gather the courage to confess that he or she does watch porn.
It’s not a question of watching or not watching porn. It’s about being vulnerable.
So many times, students ask me “Sir, how can I boost self-confidence?”
See, the basic requirement for feeling confident is that you should not have much to hide.
Right now, you are trying too hard to hide your ‘secrets’ from others. And yet, you are shaking inside, that no matter what, somehow, others will get to know your ‘dark side.’ You are in constant tension. And this very tension will never let you feel confident.
Don’t think only you have secrets to hide. All of us do.
People around you are concerned about projecting a clean image in the society. And the people, whom they are hiding the secrets from, too, are busy protecting their secrets. It’s a vicious circle.
What if you watch porn?
You are not hurting anybody if you don’t take a bath every day.
It’s nobody’s business if you eat chicken for dinner or a vegetarian meal.
Don’t get bogged down. What is there to hide?
Be vulnerable, and you’ll feel confident in your skin – this confidence is not something that comes from repeating “I am confident” hundred times a day – it comes from within as a result of you accepting yourself.
9. Change Your Beliefs
Your life is the total of your beliefs. What you hold in your mind becomes true for you.
You can change your life by changing your beliefs.
Want to become happy, healthy and prosperous? Then it’s no use trying to change external circumstances. They are just reflections of your inner beliefs in the outer world. Instead, start changing your perceptions, and your whole world shall change.
10. Invest in Yourself
You are your most valuable asset.
You must invest in yourself – polish yourself, learn new skills every day, become a better version of yourself.
- Read inspiring books on personal development.
- Listen to motivational tapes.
- Enrol in a course that can help your career move to newer heights.
- Learn some dance moves to get an impressive body
- Study books on how to invest in the market to get better returns.
- Invest in programs to help you understand your business better.
Keep learning something new every day.
11. Stay Away from Negative People
Heard about leeches – The blood-sucking creatures found in dirty water?
They hook on your body and keep sucking your blood until none left.
Negative people are somewhat more harmful and dangerous than even leeches.
Because leeches only suck the blood out of their victim, while negative people suck your positive energy, your enthusiasm, your aspirations – everything!
If you’re serious about personal development, stay away from negative people.
12. Exercise Regularly
Our forefathers didn’t need exercise because staying alive itself was an exercise. People had to do hard physical labour to collect food and survive amidst dangers of wild animals, natural calamity, and diseases.
Times have changed, and now many of us sit in front of a computer screen to earn our livelihoods. There’s little to no physical activity which slows down our system and makes us feel lethargic. But our body needs exercise to stay fit.
I am not saying that you should run every single day, though you can if that makes you feel good. But yes, it’s essential that you exercise often.
Why? Even running with your dog would do.
How about walking instead of taking a cycle-rickshaw? Use common sense to find ways to keep fit.
13. Spend Some Time in Nature
The modern world has lost contact with nature. Most of the times we are in cabins, homes, taxis, cars, trains, planes, with no or minimal contact with nature.
Give yourself a break – switch off your mobile phone, shut down your computer. Go out in a park, countryside, deserted area, lake, river – any place where you can be in contact with nature. If that’s not possible at the moment, wait till night and when the sky illuminates with stars, gaze at them and let them fill your heart with wonder and awe.