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Nature and Persona

Personality, temperament, behavior patterns, views, self-concept, convictions, and values — basically everything that makes you the person you are — can be separated into two broad categories of traits. One category can be called nature — everything that is inborn and permanent in you that would have manifested itself whether you had been born in the African jungle or in Tokyo. The other set of personal characteristics can be called one's persona — everything that one has picked up in the process of upbringing, socialization, and adaptation. Much of the persona forms as the result of chance — where and in what family you happened to be born, which ideologies and values happened to be instilled in you, etc. Much of the process of self-discovery is about finding out what belongs to your persona and what belongs to your nature. Only your nature is truly your own "property"; everything else in you is subject to change under the pressure of external influences.

It is common for there to be significant discrepancies between the personas people develop and their natural inclinations and capabilities. The greater the conflict between the two, the more difficult it is to live a happy and rewarding life. Sometimes people's personas have a completely different vector than their natures. Conflicts of interest between the socially determined persona and the stunted but insistent nature lead to an unstable Ego and personal tragedy. Likewise, happy and successful individuals typically have a persona whose characteristics are a reflection of their nature.

The rest of this article may give the impression that the persona is something superfluous, but actually it is a crucial part of effective social interaction. People with "pleasant" personas are able to create a good impression, and a honed and reliable persona is essential for any kind of leadership. However, life is full of examples of people who have the "right" persona but are deeply unhappy.

Self-actualization and nature
Self-actualization seems to involve cultivating an awareness of one's nature, giving it priority over the persona, gradually eliminating behavior, activities, views, habits, and traits that conflict with that nature, and finding ways for one's nature to translate into meaningful societal service. Self-actualizing individuals do not change their nature to fit some ideal; they change their life to fit their nature! Meanwhile, everyone else is busy trying to conform to models that they happened to grow up under the influence of.

Socionics and discovering your nature
Socionics can be a useful tool for learning about and developing one's nature, since socionic type is an integral part of this nature. Simply finding out their type is a revelatory experience for many people. Socionics provides a handy toolkit for understanding one's nature and how it interacts with the natures of others. If one is deeply interested in developing their nature, they will recognize these applications and use them to their benefit.

Nature and persona in relationships

Intimate relationships are one of the areas most affected by one's nature. Other social interaction tends to take place at a greater psychological distance, where one's persona and learned behavior play the defining role. Close relationships generally begin as interaction between two personas, however, prolongued close contact brings out partners' natures, which inevitably override the influence of their personas.

How is it that some people fall in love and make great sacrifices to be together, only to slide into verbal abuse, embitterment, and even hatred within a few short years? Such people are firmly in the power of their personas and do not know their natures or their partners' natures. If they had been more attentive to the reactions of their natures instead of systematically smothering them, they would have recognized warning signals early on and refrained from creating a close relationship with someone their nature refuses to be close with.

Often the persona has a huge vested interest in one's relationships, and one's nature must foot the bill. The persona is where long lists of "qualities your partner should have" come from. If the discrepancies between your persona and nature are large enough, your persona may consistently lead you into relationships with people your nature doesn't approve of or have a need for. Meanwhile, you may be passing by potential partners whose natures would mesh comfortably with your own but who 1) don't match your "wish list," or 2) don't pay attention to you because your persona doesn't appeal to them. The greater the rift between persona and nature, the more ideal the circumstances required to establish contact with people who would be good matches for you. The lesser the rift, the easier it is to find them in the mob.

Learning to hear your nature

The ability to recognize signals coming from your nature is an invaluable life skill. Here I will talk about this ability as it pertains to relationships; a similar process can be applied to other areas of life as well.

Do you ever meet people of the opposite sex (or your own sex, as the case may be) who instantly captivate you? Maybe it's the shape of their face, a particular body type, a certain "look" that always snags you... Or maybe they share an interest that is very important to you, express a view that perfectly matches your own, or otherwise match some unconscious ideal of yours? Whatever the case, a button has been pressed, and the body is intrigued. As you observe the person, a sort of infatuation forms, and you follow their every movement, listen attentively to their speech, and soak up their outfit, laughter, and facial expressions.

It is easy to assume at this point that it is "you" that is interested in the person. In actuality, certain traits of the person have activated some module of your brain, but not your entire being. It is likely that your brain module has identified a great candidate for a short-term passionate relationship or a few engaging discussions, but it has nothing to say at all about the long-term effects of living with this person. Your nature has not yet had any direct contact with the person.

If you try personally interacting with such people on a non-sexual level, you may find that you lose interest in most of them within a matter of days or weeks and then wonder what it was you had found so captivating in them. If you look deeper, you will find that you had projected certain qualities onto them that you later discovered they did not have. Perhaps you subconsciously expected the round-faced and soft-featured girl to have a strong maternal instinct and be sensitive to your physical needs... Perhaps you had hoped the gregarious and upbeat young man would be a reliable breadwinner and a natural manager. These qualities — the ones that cause you to eventually lose interest in a person if they are absent — are what your nature needs in a long-term partner.

If you reflect on these qualities and try to give them higher priority, you will find it easier to recognize them and respond to them in the future.

02/24/2007 Blaze
Many people these days are initially meeting one another via the internet. Forums, chat rooms, instant messaging, and dating websites all provide arenas for connecting with others in a non-physical way. Sometimes this can cause problems for people, for when they meet face to face, there is a lack of physical attraction and the relationship, while having had some intensity on line or on the phone, defuses itself.

At other times, people make a strong connection on line and then find a good chemistry between them when they meet, and the relationship proceeds quickly, since time was spent on the internet interacting with the person.

With email, and with some dating profiles and communication structues, people have enough time to prepare and type carefully thought out responses, resulting in a kind of on line-ideal that may not be truly reprpesentative of who the person is. On the other hand, instant messaging, phone calling, on line chats limit the amount of time a person has and may thus encourage a more accurate self presentation.

My questions are these: how well do you think people can get to know each other through electronic means? Can a person's socionics type be determined electronically? And can you comment overall on the pace at which on line relationships develop, especially in the context of getting to know a person in order to make a determination on true and full compatability?


03/12/2007 Author
I don't have a whole lot of experience with online dating and am generally suspicious of it, but it probably isn't much less effective than dating in real life, since the selection is greater. But the lack of real-time body-to-body interaction makes it much easier to build a false impression of the other person.

Yes, people's types can be determined electronically, if you have pictures, videos, and chat experience.

As for the pace, i.e. how long you need to determine "full compatibility," I'm skeptical that you can really be sure until you meet the person. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned:)