Image: Marie Vonow
There are many factors that work together to make each of us the person we are today. Genetics, health, upbringing, experiences, people we have come in contact with, education and where we live all have a strong impact. We also have some influence ourselves on who we are at this moment in time.
Genetics determine the natural colour of your hair and eyes and many other physical characteristics. (Some of these characteristics can be altered by surgery or other form of intervention but that's another story.)
Ongoing research reveals all sorts of interesting information about the part genetics play in determining a person's behavioural characteristics. Some people are genetically predisposed to certain behaviours. There is an optimism gene which makes some people more naturally optimistic than others. People can do things to increase their level of optimism if they are not born with this gene.
Some people are more likely to fly into a rage because of their genetic makeup. Parents, siblings and relatives in the extended family may have the same genetic makeup. Therefore it is also quite likely the individual will be exposed to frequent outbursts of anger while they are growing up. They see rage modelled and may feel it is just the way people react to stress. In addition they have an innate propensity to fly off the handle.
Some people enjoy good health and others don't. There are those who are born with a health condition or disability. Individuals will respond differently to these 'challenges'. Some are determined to overcome health problems if possible. The possibility of overcoming a 'challenge' depends on the severity as well as the personality of the individual and the support/opportunities they receive.
The way an individual is brought up will play a big part in determining the person they become. Whether you are the oldest, middle or youngest child in a family makes a difference. Cultural influences are part of the picture. A supportive family and opportunities can help an individual make the most of life.
Research has found some people are genetically predisposed to acts of violence. If these individuals are abused as children they are likely to grow up to be violent. Those who have a positive childhood are very likely to develop into non-violent adults in spite of these genes.
The things an individual experiences throughout life will play a part in how he/she develops. Upbringing, natural tendencies, support available and health will affect how an individual reacts to events so it's not a cause and effect thing. Something one person rises above will have a severely negative effect on another.
People in our lives can have a positive or negative effect. They can be supportive or undermining. How we react and respond to those around us is important too.
Formal education occupies a large percentage of life for children and young people. It is not just the curriculum and teachers who make up the school experience. For example, someone who is bullied will be affected by that experience. These days there is a wide range of post school education opportunities available to people of all ages so this type of learning can be a life long thing.
Where we live
The neighbourhood we live in and whether it is in a rural, suburban or inner city environment affects us. Some people are happier in the country and others in a more heavily populated area. Studies show humans need some contact with Nature for optimum physical and psychological health.
The things that have made us who we are today are many and varied. Some factors interrelate and influence each other. Things can change with time. We have little or no control over some factors but there are those we can control.
If you are not happy with who you are it may be advisable to think carefully before rushing into a big self improvement project. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with you and you just need to be more self accepting. In the words of behavioural scientist, author and speaker Steve Maraboli, ‘Stop trying to ‘fix ‘yourself; you are not broken! You are perfectly imperfect and powerful beyond measure.'
On the other hand if there are aspects of yourself you want to work on, there are plenty of resources available on the internet, at the library and in the way of face to face courses. You do have the power to make changes in spite of everything that has influenced making you the person you are today.