It’s exam season in my world, and this week I am revising for an exam in Psychobiology (awesome), and Individual Differences in Psychology (meh). I have found the module rather dry, and with not enough about the theories behind why we are so different – that is the juicy bit! So I wanted to write a little blog post about personality and our individual differences. I think it is amazing that no two people are completely alike in personality, ever, not even ‘identical’ twins. If we are the sum of our experiences, then of course we never could be identical in personality to anyone else. I recently watched the BBC documentary on conjoined twins Abby and Brittany Hensel, and was struck by how much they differ, even though they experience pretty much everything together. It just boggled my mind. It made me wonder how we could ever hope to really know or understand another person if their thoughts and feelings could be so different to ours, and therefore potentially so unexpected.
As an aspiring future Psychotherapist, I wondered (and possibly fretted a bit) if I would ever be able to truly help somebody, really ‘get inside their head’ when we are all so different in personality. I guess that is what therapist training is for! Maybe we don’t have to know it all, just a few key things. But what would those be? Well, possibly motivation would be one. If you can understand what motivates a person then perhaps you could steer them onto a path of positive action. But then I thought, ‘what if somebody is lacking motivation in the first place?’, and worried again. I have a very goal-driven personality. It’s a very well established need to achieve, so usually motivating me takes little more than suggesting a challenge, then I am all over it. So I would find it very hard to put myself in the shoes of an un-motivated person, because I don’t really know what it feels like to not be driven. I imagine it would feel lonely, boring, and full of tumble-weeds. And then I imagine hearing the Kansas song ‘Dust in the Wind’. And then I feel a bit sad.
At least I know what I need to work on when I get to my therapist training course. Hey, that’s another challenge! Bring it on!