by: E.B. Johnson
We focus a lot on building up our personalities, and within that we mainly focus on boosting the agreeable traits or those which help us to connect with others. Even our positive personality traits can come with a dark side, though. Being too agreeable, too open — these are attributes which can land you in trouble if you aren’t careful about the line you walk.
It’s crucial that you know your personality inside and out, and learn to embrace the reality of its light sides and dark sides. We are all different and we all look at the world in different ways. We have control over who we are and who we become, though. Find the middle ground and stop allowing your positives to become negatives. Set boundaries and live by them so that you can slow things down and give yourself time to rest and recharge.
Our personalities shape our lives.
Though many of us don’t necessarily consider our personalities that often, they play a big role in determining our lives. Our level of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness feed into our ability to connect with others. Our emotional stability and our extraversion also contribute to the way in which we see the world. All of these traits can vary to one extreme to the other, but even in their best states — they can pose a serious challenge to our happiness.
In the extreme, any personality trait can become a negative. When we have low levels of agreeableness, we end up with anti-social behavior and beliefs which make it impossible for us to bond with anyone. On the other end of the spectrum, being too agreeable can make you a pushover who is open to abuse and those who would otherwise take advantage of you.
Instead of allowing our personalities to vary so greatly between extremes, we should always strive to find the middle ground in our personalities and our lives. In order to do this, we have to slow things down and learn to set boundaries which allow us to rest, relax, and recharge the energy we used to face the world. Take a personality inventory and figure out where your lines lie. Then you can correct and make the adjustments you need to build greater stability around you.
How a positive personality can harm us.
We all strive to be more positive, but anything taken to an extreme can be dangerous. The same goes for our personalities. Although we strive to maximize the positive side of the 5 core personality traits, leaning too far to this extreme can leave us vulnerable to a life that’s fraught with challenging relationships and challenging experiences.
Our agreeableness refers to our tendency to get along with others. Agreeable people are those who are kind and warm; they welcome us in and they are empathetic or compassionate. They make great partners and friends, but they can also become “doormats” to people around them. Being too agreeable can set you up to be complacent with others, or to look past red flags (which can lead to even bigger heartache later on).
We all strive to achieve emotional stability, but there’s interesting science which shows that being too emotionally stable could pose a risk. When we’re emotionally stable, we are more trusting and at peace. For this reason, we tend to take higher risks in life and in love, because we don’t see enough danger around the corner. So, we may find ourselves falling into relationships with unsavory characters, or those who seek to take advantage of any emotional blind spots we might have.
Conscientiousness is one of the most powerful personality traits we can cultivate, but we can push it too far. Being too conscientious of others causes us to put them before ourselves in the worst possible way. We lose sight of our own needs as we strive to attain validation and love from others around us by committing to acts of care and compassion. While it’s noble to care for others, it becomes toxic when we do it before meeting our own needs.
Would you describe yourself as an open person? Are you able to connect with others quickly? Or do you try to over share early in an effort to get them to “like you”? While this seems like an admirable trait, it can push others away from us in the long run. Someone who over shares can seem intimidating or overwhelming. Beyond that, we can open up too quickly to someone who isn’t worthy of our love or our confidence. This can get us into trouble both personally and professionally.
Extraverts tend to be outgoing and charming. They are social butterflies and often the life of the party. Though this can bring with it an array of special experiences, it also comes with a downside. Extraverts are far more likely to experience burnout because, like the overly conscientious person, they tend to give too much of their personal space and energy to the other people in their life. To add to the punch, their tendency to over-socialize with others is often a means to mask deeper issues bubbling beneath the surface.
The best ways to find balance in your personality.
Your personality isn’t some estranged animal that’s outside of your control. Our personalities can be shaped and managed by us in a number of ways, and by doing this we can improve our relationships and the way in which we pursue our goals. Finding the balance requires us to set boundaries, and it requires that we slow things down and take an inventory of who we are and who we want to be.
1. Take a personality inventory
In order to shift our personalities and improve them, we have to first take stock and figure out exactly how we are thinking and operating. Introspection is everything when it comes to self improvement. It also happens to be a journey which takes time to work through. Before you can get started on this journey, you need to orientate yourself and figure out where you’re going.
Take a personality inventory. Figure out who you are and who you want to be; only a small percentage of our personality is defined by genetics. The rest is learned and adjusted in relation to the experiences we have in life. How is your personality impacting your relationships? How is forcing ruptures or causing emotional dysfunction in your life?
Check in on every aspect of your personality. Weigh in on your agreeableness, your emotional stability, your openness, your extraversion, and your conscientiousness. How are these traits working in your favor? How are they working against you? Weigh them against your future vision of self. How do they stack up against the person you want to be and the life you want to build for yourself?
2. Set boundaries and stand by them
Boundaries are important in every aspect of our lives, and they can be extremely helpful when it comes to finding the balance in our personalities. If you are someone who allows yourself to get put down or pushed around, setting boundaries can help you re-establish your inner strength and sense of power. For this to happen, though, you have to stand by your boundaries and figure out what you really want.
In the extreme, our positive personality traits can make us pushovers who allow our limits to be trampled over. if your agreeableness goes too far, then you can find that you’re more likely to be pushed into places which make you uncomfortable or unhappy.
Take a step back from all the noise and all the pressure. Re-center on yourself. Focus on your ideal life. What is most important to you? When you look around? What kind of people and experiences do you want to see? Set your boundaries around these answers. Start sticking up for yourself and start saying “no” more often. Protect what’s yours, and stop accepting behaviors, beliefs, and relationships which are unacceptable to your happiness.
3. Give yourself time to rest and recharge
We all need time to rest and recharge, but it can be easy to lose sight of that in the hustle-and-bustle of modern life. What kind of self-care routine do you adhere to? How often do you take time alone to yourself to just be present and enjoy being in your body (and life)? Those who run high in personality traits like agreeableness and extraversion may find that they never just stop and breathe; giving themselves the space they need to ground and center.
Check yourself and your level of conscientiousness and extraversion. Are you someone who feels like they always have to put others first? Do you go, go, go in a friend group that never sleeps? A social circle that never allows for alone time?
These things are taxing. As humans, we come with a limited amount of energy and focus. We have to prioritize these things and fill those spaces with the experiences and people which benefit us or bring us overall happiness. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and unwind. That’s okay. It’s okay to stop and just be present sometimes. Take a stop and take a breath. Don’t give every inch of yourself away, leaving nothing left for the person who needs it most: you.
4. Learn to slow things down
Open, stable people are beautiful. When they love someone they love with a fullness that is hard to describe. Their joy and their excitement is palpable, but it can move them to rush things or pursue them faster than is wise to do. Are you someone who is very open? Do you share everything all at once? Or deep dive quicker with people than you should? Above all, you need to learn that it’s okay to slow things down and save some of yourself for later.
Don’t give it all away at once. Stop pouring out all your secrets in an effort to get them to open up to or validate you. Not only is it okay to hold a little back, it’s best if you’re looking at building something longterm with someone (be it platonic or romantic).
It takes time for us to get to know people. As much as you might want to open up all at once, you need to tread carefully and see where your journey with people takes you. Consider how long it’s taken to know yourself. Although we want to see the best in people, this does not mean they always know who they are or what they want. Take things slow and avoid giving yourself away all at once. Go with the natural flow of things.
5. Always seek the middle ground
You’ve probably heard the phrase “moderation is key” and — believe it or not — this also works with our personalities. Knowing we are behind the wheel of how we choose to act and believe, we can shift our personalities by always seeking to find the middle ground in our traits. Instead of fluctuating between one extreme and the other, we can focus on our newfound boundaries and learn to care for ourselves as much as others.
Know your personality and learn to identify the extremes you have a tendency to lead toward. Rather than allowing yourself to slide into these comfortable extremes, always seek to find the middle ground. Be conscious and present in your body, your thoughts, and your emotions. Constantly question how you’re feeling and how you’re reacting (and why).
Stop and think things through. Every situation needs something different. Is it time to take your foot off the gas? Or is time to put the pedal to the metal? All of our relationships, all of our encounters, are a delicate balance. A give-and-take. Find your middle ground. If you’re giving away too much, focus on yourself for a while. If you’re taking too many risks, slow down and re-focus on what matters most to you.
Putting it all together…
Our personalities come down to 5 core traits which define how well we work and relate with the world around us. These traits all mix together to create who we are, and they shape the outcome of our lives and our relationships. Though we tend to focus on maxing out the positive sides of these traits, even that can come with a price. Being too far up on the side of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness can come with a very high price. We have to find the balance in what we give and what we takeaway.
Set some boundaries for yourself and for others. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed around or pulled into a life that isn’t authentically yours. Take a step back and check your conscientiousness and your extraversion. Are you giving away too much of the personal space in your life? Give yourself some time to rest and recharge. Helping others is good, but we aren’t of any worth to them if we aren’t our best selves. Be present and build up enough space for personal time in your life. Too open with others? Embrace the act of slowing down and taking your time to get to know others. Find the middle ground and find the balance in the give-and-take you allow in yourself and with others. Your personality shapes your life. Make it the best you can be and understand how it impacts your connection with others.