Compulsive Behavior – Determine the Strength of People’s Character August 18, 2023 by Riston Character can be defined as the innate moral quality of a person, and the characteristics which define one and distinguishes one from others. The word character is derived from the Greek word kharaktēr which means “imprint, engraving”, and from that we can apply the definition to a personal mark or set of patterns – what a person is “made of”. The layer beneath the surface of a person’s mask is their character, and it comprises not only natural tendencies but conatural tendencies, habits, and compulsions. There are four layers which comprise a person’s character: Genetic – This is the deepest and most fundamental layer of a person’s make up, and there’s little that can be done to directly change the components of this layer. While traits from this layer can’t be “changed” or directly altered in most cases, we do have some latitude in terms of mitigating or augmenting these attributes. Childhood Experiences – This layer is derived from earliest childhood experiences, which can be difficult to address because these patterns are set before most have the ability to remember them. While traits imprinted at this layer become deeply ingrained, there is more opportunity to alter these patterns than in the first layer. Most of these habits/traits, as well those in the next two layers, are largely conatural. Derivative Layer – This layer of habits and traits are largely derived by strategies from the first two layers, specifically related to how we form strategies for dealing with stress, people, and seeking pleasure. This layer is really where we begin to exercise will and engage in Self-Forming Action. Forming the Social Mask – At this layer, which develops mostly during adolescence, we begin to be able to identify traits from the first three layers as desirable or not, and begin to construct a personality mask intended to obscure or augment traits in social circumstances. Often, this layer tends to obscure problematic habits from the first three layers, leading to challenges in the endeavor to identify and address areas where dysfunctional habits and patterns may have formed. Ideally, we need to constantly and with brutal internal honesty evaluate first our own character through self-reflexion, and the character of others through observation. There are several components to observing character traits that are important for understanding the people we deal with, including ourselves. The first is through identifying recurring patterns. Someone who is consistently experiencing the same sorts of situations, specifically negative ones, are likely unaware of or neglecting some ingrained personality flaw. Secondly, observing how a person reacts under pressure, or when granted extra power or responsibility will indicate deep character flaws that may generally lie disguised beneath the social mask. One of the most important points of observation is a person’s character strength, which originates primarily from a place of strong inner confidence and self-worth. Below are ten toxic character types that are most commonly seen: The Hyperperfectionist – these types often blind people to their flaws by working harder than everyone else. They garner superficial respect at first, but soon their insecurities and controlling nature begin to corrode their relationships and work. The Relentless Rebel – these types often make a show of their disdain for authority, though rarely is this founded on any principled grounds (such as having a rationally derived position which holds the concept of political authority as inherently immoral). These types display a pattern of nasty fallouts with those they get into relationships with, and can’t stand any degree of personal criticism. The Personalizer – these types generally appear to be very thoughtful and sensitive, but take everything personally. They quickly get irritated with people, then push them away, then take it as an affront that the other has become distant. They are rarely ever in the wrong when they tell you their stories, despite the overwhelming patterns being exactly the same. The Drama Magnet – These are generally very exciting and high energy people that are, at least initially, fun to be around. They are always in a constant churn of interesting drama that tends to reel people right into the middle of it, and they have a way of throwing guilt if you try to disengage from their cycles. The Big Talker – these individuals tend to have great, impressive ideas which they always excel at talking up, but when called to account, they vanish. Be wary of these types, while not as dangerous as many of the others, never make the mistake of taking them seriously. The Sexualizer – Likely the victims of past (especially childhood) sexual abuse, they tend to elicit a charge of unrepressed, sexual energy. They normally engage in sexual behavior as a means of self-validation, and can delve into depression or suicidal thoughts if they go extended periods of time without this validation. These types can’t be saved, and it’s best to maintain a healthy distance. The Pampered Prince/Princess – Usually these individuals can reel others in through a contrived regal air and sense of superiority. In relationships, everything must always be on their terms, and they will require constant pampering. Like the sexualizer, this adulation becomes an addiction without which they will become dependent on drugs or other means to self-soothe. The Pleaser – These types are naturally skilled courtiers, who are always extremely polite and accommodating. Beneath this facade, though, lurks a deep seated resentment at playing this role, and they will quickly become passive aggressive if you let down your guard. The Savior – Always looking for someone to help, they inject themselves into people’s lives with solutions. They derive a sense of power from doing this, and they can be identified by whether or not they allow you the room to stand on your own, or will continue to try to control you. The Easy Moralizer – People having this type tend to be constantly outraged at injustice, while in their personal lives they tend to treat others with contempt. They usually have a secret side, and their moralistic demeanor likely developed as a coping mechanism from when they were punished for some action when they were younger. The Way to Superior Character We all have deterministic components in our physiological and psychological makeups, due to either genetic predispositions or patterns imprinted early in our development, often before we were old enough to remember. However, we are not automatons and slaves to fate, and have the capacity to become active participants in the formation of our future selves. The two keys to not being captives of our characters, and to improve them lie in not deceiving ourselves or living in denial of the reality of these factors, and brutally honest self-reflection and knowledge. Coming to a greater understanding of our character flaws and strengths, and active working to build up our strengths and mitigate our flaws, can help refine our characters. With character flaws, especially if we fall into one of the toxic types, the goal is alchemical: the transmutation of base character flaws into strengths. Negative, toxic patterns misdirect and dampen our energy, and finding ways to properly channel and reroute this energy lead to a more fulfilling life with greater freedom from patterns that stunt our progress.