Friday, February 18, 2011

Character vs Personality

The word character is from the Old French caractere and means "imprint on the soul." The etymology of personality suggests veneer and is connected with the Latin word persona, which was a mask worn by actors. Character is revealed when our masks are removed.

It's easy to tell if you are living from character or personality: If things aren't going your way, personality pouts while character remains unruffled and learns from the experience. When you are not in psychologically or emotionally safe territory, personality panics. Character, on the other hand, rides the vicissitudes of life with even-mindedness. Personality endeavors to extract happiness from its experiences, whereas character realizes that happiness is an inherent quality of being.

Your personality has been forged by the values of the external world beginning with parental fantasies about who you are and who you were raised to become, your education, your religions, your companions, all to assure your ego's survival and protection from getting hurt. Ego is an artifact that is used to fit in, to hang out in the status quo, an agreement with mediocrity that allows you to move and groove in the world without causing too much disturbance or being too much of an irritation.

Eventually, such an existence become sterile, claustrophobic, painful. The way out is to learn how to ultimately tell the difference between your ego personality that is seeking to survive and avoid being hurt and your character that seeks to confidently deliver your talents, gifts, and skills. Remember, the ego seeks to protect the temporary personality by projecting unresolved issues such as a sense of separation from the whole, lack, and scarcity.

Michael Bernard Beckwith, Spiritual Liberation


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