I Have "No Personality": Meaning, causes, and solutions
If you think you have no personality, then you are not alone. However, the meaning of "I have no personality" can be confusing, so let's answer that first.
A person with no personality does not express their opinions. They only hold the opinions of the person they are talking to. People with no personality are highly agreeable and avoid conflicts. They also get anxious about being too boring or too annoying in social interactions.
These thoughts can become crippling to the point that they cannot engage in social interactions. Let's learn more about whether it is possible to have no personality, the causes of having no personality, and how to develop a personality.
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What is a person with no personality?
A person with no personality spends an excessive amount of time thinking about themselves. Normally, the ability to think about themselves (meta-cognition) separates human beings from other creatures. However, when we start thinking about ourselves too much, that can be distressing. The Default Mode Network (DMN) is the part of our brain responsible for meta-cognition, and it is highly active in people with depression.
Check out this video to learn more about the Default Mode Network from a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and adept meditator:
Suppose you are trying to engage in conversation, but you end up thinking about your performance in the conversation rather than the conversation itself. In that case, your mind might be overanalyzing your situation. It may be trying to find the best possible response to what the other person says. That process makes your responses less spontaneous and less authentic since your goal is not to have a conversation but to please others.
Trying to please other people all the time may give them the impression that you have no personality. Remember, a successful conversation doesn't mean that there is no friction. More often than not, diverse opinions make for interesting conversations.
Is it possible to have no personality?
It is not possible to have no personality. A personality consists of a person's likes and dislikes. Since everyone has preferences and aversions, they have a personality. Personality can also refer to identity, and every human being holds identities.
The word "personality" comes from the Latin word "persona", which referred to the mask performers wore in theatrical plays. A personality is an identity; it is not your true self.
Your personality consists of your likes, dislikes, opinions, and preferences. It is built from an accumulation of experiences over your lifetime. Therefore, every single person that is alive has a personality.
However, when someone says that they have no personality, that could mean multiple things:
- Other people have told them they have no personality. That means that those people either did not take the time to get to know the person well enough or did not find that person's personality attractive.
- The person is too shy and does not share their thoughts and opinions. They agree with the opinions of people around them and tend not to take sides. They rarely get into disagreements.
- The person places a value judgment on their likes and dislikes and compares their opinions and preferences with others. They tend to conclude that their preferences are "bad" and the other person is cooler for having "better" preferences than them.
How do I know if I am being boring?
If you are afraid of being boring, you will likely come across as a person with no personality. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you are being boring:
- Are you sharing your thoughts and opinions?
- Are you talking too much about yourself?
- Are you talking too little about yourself?
- Do you overuse the same words in a conversation, such as: "Oh really?", Wow!", "That's great!", etc.?
- On the rare occasions you engage in long conversations, are you worried about coming across as boring?
In this video, Dr. K, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist talks about social anxiety and how to overcome it.
Why do I feel that I have no personality?
Here are 2 reasons why you feel that you have no personality:
1. Low Self-Worth
A person who feels that they have no personality might have low self-worth.
We tend to think that our rational mind determines what we feel. However, it is the other way around. Our emotions, especially the negative ones, affect our capacity to be rational.
According to the Vedic model of the mind, our mind has four aspects, of which we will focus on three:
- Manas, the emotional part of our mind.
- Buddhi, the intellection part of our mind.
- Ahamkara, the "I" feeling, also known as ego.
The Ahamkara or the ego is the part of our mind that tries to protect us from getting hurt. Therefore, when we experience a negative emotion, it jumps in to protect us. The ego bullies our intellect to do selective reasoning to come to a less hurtful conclusion. As a result, our mind develops blind spots, and we become less self-aware.
When a person lacks self-worth, they may feel like their personality is undesirable. That is too painful for the mind to sit with. As a result, the ego jumps in and bullies the intellect to do selective reasoning. As a result, the intellect ignores the part of the personality that the person perceives as undesirable and concludes that they have no personality.
You have no personality because you fear rejection, so you never express your true personality. You always want approval and validation, so you mold yourself into whatever shape the other person wants. You always conform to other people's likes and dislikes. As a result, you never express or form your own opinions.
Check out this video in which a Harvard-trained psychiatrist describes how to stop being a doormat and stand up for yourself:
You have a samskara (an undigested ball of emotion or trauma) that arises when you examine yourself. You were likely rejected or told by someone that you are not interesting. If they didn't tell you that directly, you probably felt like you are not interesting. Maybe, people you wanted to be accepted by started to ignore you, and your mind concluded that you were uninteresting.
From that point on, when you encountered a social interaction in which you felt inferior to other people, your ego concluded that you have no personality. That conclusion had sunk deep into your mind.
One way to verify whether you fear rejection is to take the Big 5 Personality Test. It is the most scientifically validated personality assessment out there. Do you test highly on agreeableness and neuroticism?
2. You are not going anywhere in life.
If you wake up every day and feel like life is going nowhere, you may feel like you do not have a personality. Do you wake up and feel like you're living groundhog day? Do you feel like you don't do anything interesting? Do you find yourself scrolling through social media and comparing your lack of accomplishments and progress with other people's successes?
If you feel like you aren't getting anywhere, it can feel like you have no personality. If you wake up every day, watch YouTube, play video games, watch Netflix and fall asleep, then you may feel that you are below average, and there isn't anything unique about you.
You may dislike your personality because you think it is generic. As a result, you say that you have no personality.
What to do when you feel like you have no personality?
1. Examine your thoughts.
If you have low self-worth and start to examine your thoughts, you will likely find negative emotions underneath.
Consider the possibility that you have an unlikeable personality. Does that make you feel hurt? How does your mind react to that? Approach its reaction with curiosity and non-judgment. Is the idea of having an unlikeable personality too hurtful to sit with? Does your mind suddenly produce the conclusion that you have no personality instead of an unlikeable one?
Think about the first time you felt like you had no personality. Where were you? What were you doing? Try to find the root of the feeling and understand where it is coming from.
2. Practice Meditation.
Meditation is starting to gain traction as a treatment for most mental illnesses. However, it is not only effective for clinical illnesses. It has other scientifically validated benefits such as stress reduction, reduction in anxiety, lengthening attention spans, increasing compassion, sleep improvement, improved pain management, and cultivating self-awareness.
Meditation has also been shown to reduce the activity of the default-mode network. If you find yourself worrying about how you are doing in social situations, this is a very effective way to reduce that worry. As a result, you will express yourself more and not feel like you have no personality.
3. Write about yourself.
Writing and journaling are very effective ways of examining your thoughts. If you find that every day is the same for you and you have no personality, then you can do a simple exercise to understand this feeling better.
Take a piece of paper and make a column for your likes and another one for your dislikes. Start to fill in these columns. Once you've written about 10-20 items in each list, go through each one and ask yourself, "am I comfortable talking about these with other people? Are there situations where I don't feel comfortable talking about these? What will happen if I talk about them?"
The chances are that you will encounter the emotion of fear. You may fear what would happen if you were authentic with other people. That is a perfectly valid worry since you have probably had experiences of rejection. However, realize that fear is an emotion; it is not a reality. The better you understand it, the more you will gain freedom from it, and the less it will control you.
You can also write about what do you do in a day. Even if you stay in and play video games, watch shows, browse the internet, there must be parts that you like and some that you dislike. You may have certain opinions about content that you encounter on the internet. That is what makes up your personality. Therefore, you cannot have no personality. Recognize that you have a personality, but you are afraid to admit it. Also, catch the feeling of shame that arises as you have that realization. Observe that emotion and how it feels in your body, and recognize that it is simply a sensation.
4. Work on your personality.
You may not like your personality. You may not like what your likes and dislikes are. It just means you don't like the person you are.
Ask yourself the question, "Why don't I like my personality? What is the emotion that I feel when I examine my preferences?" Is it shame, disgust, or something else? Think back to the first time you encountered rejection. Is the color, flavor, or feeling of the emotion the same as when you encountered it the first time?
Recognize that this emotion is an echo of the past. It was created because your mind attempted to protect itself. However, that does not mean that you cannot work on changing it. The past is the past, but the moment you become aware of it, you have agency. Awareness precedes control.
5. Recognize that your personality is not the real you.
As human beings, we confuse our personalities with our true selves. Therefore, when we dislike our personality, we start to dislike ourselves. That can be highly damaging to our self-worth. We start to feel broken fundamentally. Disliking your personality is not a bad thing — dislike motivates you to change. If you do not like something about your personality, you can change it. However, if you dislike yourself, then that is a bigger problem.
Everyone has identities, egos, masks that they wear. The trouble is when we start to think that our ego is the entirety of our self.
When you recognize your ego for what it is, a mental construction, then doubt arises in your mind. You are suddenly not sure about who you are. This doubt is a crucial step because saying "I don't know" forces you to search for answers.
Everyone's mind produces a concept of the self, and they're all inauthentic. Some people's perception of themselves is very positive, so the inauthenticity hurts less, but it floats under the surface. A sense of self that is produced by the mind can never become the true self. It will always be a poor reproduction.
Build up awareness and pay close attention to your thoughts and feelings. Notice where they come from. Don't judge them. Don't react to them. Just observe. Notice the automaticity of it, the reactiveness of it, the past-based flavor of it. That's what you've thought you were, all this time. If that is not true, then what is?