The ART of Personality Development
PRIMARY COLORS PERSONAL INSIGHT TOOLS
Your personality is a unique, never-to-be-repeated variation on the general pattern for human nature, situated in history and society. The developing configuration that comprises your personality consists of three layers. To follow personality development over the human life course, then, is to track three different layers of lines of personal growth as depicted in graph below. Each of the three layers corresponds to a particular standpoint of perspective from which the whole person may be understood--personality from the standpoint of the actor, the agent, and the author.
As a personality and people lover I have also been incredibly inspired by the work of Dr. Dan P. McAdams in the field of personality development. His book The Art and Science of Personality Development is a "story that recognizes the artistry of individual lives while examining what contemporary science has to tell us about how human lives are psychologically patterned and how these patterns develop over time. The scientific study of personality development has made tremendous strides in the last decade or two."
(Important note: Just because I admire and concur with Dr. Dan P. McAdams, does not in any way infer that he agrees with, or endorses, Primary Colors Personality Tests and Insight Tools. This was not as important to state as I spoke with regards to Dr. Mischel, because he has passed it is obvious that I would not be making such an inference, however, Dr. McAdams is alive and thriving and as of yet, I have not had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting him or speaking with him about these insight tools. I simply want to stir anyone who is truly interested in the development of personality to Dr. Dan P. McAdams, and discuss ways the I believe Primary Colors Insight Tools take into consideration what Dr. McAdams has discovered through exhaustive research.)
Excerpt from The Art and Science of Personality Development:
"At its root, personality is expressed in those consistent and artful variations in behavior, thought, and feeling that occur in social contexts." Dan P. McAdams
For the most exquisite explanation of personality development I have ever read, please buy Dan P. McAdams book referenced above, The Art and Science of Personality Development. Actually he has written many books and I have enjoyed them all. They are all terrific, but his latest book I feel is most comprehensive.
I completely agree with McAdams when he states: "In its full form, personality is a developing configuration of psychological individuality that expresses a person's recognizable uniqueness, whereas life stories are layered over salient goal and values, which are layered over dispositional traits."
I became enamored with the way Dr. McAdams looks at personality because he addresses three layers of personality, not simply dispositional traits. He values and understands the importance of social context as stated above, with regard to what traits we strengthen and better enable. He looks at personality in a very personal and intimate way, while still respectfully upholding what years of scientific and empirical research have been able to clarify, and not clarify for us.
Whereas most people that I encounter in my work or in my personal life do not give a moments thought to the big Five Personality Trait theory, AND they do not find it easy to apply in immediate and relevant ways to their personal lives, conflicts or relational trauma, McAdams moves in and out of all personality theories and examines them with respect and reverence, while coming to his beautifully articulated theory of personality development. McAdams recognizes that even though there are personality traits that are consistent over time, we as human beings, are also fully in charge and competent to utilize, manipulate and encourage our traits and tendencies in ways that positively and powerfully impact our lives as successful relational actors, agents and authors.
Primary Colors Personality Tests and Insight Tools also examine dispositional tendencies using the metaphoric base of the six colors of the artist's color wheel and the idea that we are each artists, choosing the colors we will use to paint our world. But in our expert series of tests, we also pay careful attention to values using the PCPT Values test. The values test helps people understand where they draw their values, ideals and goals and even sacred codes from, and how the two sides of the values color wheel, strength versus warmth, have a tendency to see the world very differently which can indeed create conflict. This supports and encourages McAdams important second level of personality layering. But also, I love McAdams' third layer of personality where he explains that as humans, we are meaning making machines, and are in the process of continually writing our life stories.
What I learned from my precious time in private practice, working for many years with only women who had been sexually abused, violently raped or were victims of satanic ritual abuse is that the beliefs we hold about ourselves, others and the state of humanity in the world are very closely tied to the stories we are capable of writing about them. I paid close attention to narrative identities and was devoted to helping my clients become more powerful and purposeful autobiographical authors of their lives. But, I was in the first-hand position of running up against narrative conflicts, both personal and relational, and often, where the individual's stories, meaning and perspectives were in conflict internally, were very similar places where they seriously struggled externally and relationally.
So while McAdams focused on three layers of personality development actor, agent, and author. I found myself needing to also understand and focus on two additional vitally important characters in any life story--the antagonist and the ally. For within these two characterizations is where all conflict lives.
An antagonist is defined as an adversary, opponent, enemy, foe, rival, competitor; opposition, competition. The antonym for antagonist is ally. The ally is defined as a colleague, friend, confederate, partner, supporter. It was my experience that people would enter my office and their different personality strengths, tendencies and weaknesses would be at war with one another. Until I could help them discover where their perceptions and stories were at war, and give them an option to rewrite, or reframe, those differing waring perspectives, meanings, and stories, they were confused, frightened and in turmoil. I created the Primary Colors Personality Tests and Insight Tools, in order to provide an extremely easy to understand and implement way to REWRITE, their traumas, disappointments, frustrations and extraordinary challenges so that those same experiences could move from destructive to constructive. When we can REWRITE our experiences, we can allow them to fortify, strengthen and give meaning and purpose to who we dream of being.
I discovered the healing was usually found waiting like seeds to grow out of the "fertilizer" of their crappiest experiences, but the answer was in allowing the fertilization process to occur so they could celebrate the new growth and beauty in their lives. Only with new growth can bitter Winter's, once again become glorious Springs.
Now for fun, let's expand on Dan P. McAdams 3 layers of personality development, and look at them through the metaphoric lenses of the six colors of the artist's color wheel.
What if we added, or included, the additional antagonist actor and the actor playing the role of ally, and began to consider conflict, internal and external, and how to resolve it.
Understanding the difference between centered personality tendencies and extreme personality tendencies gives us more conscious choice about how we respond to the challenges and stressors of life, all the while strengthening our emotional intelligence and aiding people in developing the insight they need to better regulate their thoughts and actions.
It is at a minimum, romantic to imagine our entrance into this living play we bring dispositional traits and definitely find ourselves influenced by environmental factors, but then at the end of life, it seems that what becomes forefront in people's minds is what they leave behind, whether that be the love of family, tall buildings, prestigious awards, charities or intellectual properties. I believe that our last considerations are about the legacy we leave behind.