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Do Your Willpower & Personality Determine Your Future Self with Benjamin Hardy

Do Your Willpower & Personality Determine Your Future Self with Benjamin Hardy

by | Jun 1, 2020 | Q&A

Many of us believe we have a fixed personality and it affects all our actions and choices throughout our lifetime. This thinking, though true to an extent at present, limits our ability to define our future self.

In this episode, organizational psychologist Benjamin Hardy talks about his books Willpower Doesn’t Work and Personality Is Not Permanent. He poses a challenge to the prevalent view that we are defined by our past and personality types. He introduces us to the concept of the “future self” and how it can guide us to grow and become better individuals.

Tune in to this episode to know more about creating a better and more beautiful future!

About Benjamin

Dr. Benjamin Hardy is an organizational psychologist and the author of Willpower Doesn’t Work. His upcoming book, Personality Isn’t Permanent, challenges the view that personality is fixed and innate and provides science-based strategies for becoming the person you want to be.

To know more about Dr. Benjamin and his work, you can visit his website. You may also reach him through LinkedIn or his Facebook page.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Discover why your personality is not permanent and is, instead, significantly shaped by your choices.
  2. How to address your traumas and use them to realize the future you envision?
  3. How can you use this pandemic to change yourself for the better?


Episode Highlights

[03:07] Benjamin’s Family

  • He and his wife got married in 2012 and moved to South Carolina.
  • His wife grew up with foster kids in her home, and he supported her desire to do the same.
  • It took them three months to go through the process of training and getting ready for it.
  • They ended up having three kids from the foster care system who are siblings.

 [10:43] Willpower Doesn’t Work

  • In the town where his foster kids grew up, no matter how hard they worked, their potential is radically limited by their circumstances.
  • When you give these kids support and opportunities, their lives will change.
  • Exposing yourself to new ideas is powerful.
  • The book challenges the concept that “you do everything yourself.” It explains that context and situations matter a lot more.
  • It views people vis-à-vis their environment rather than thinking of them as an individual and isolated being.

[16:29] The New Normal

  • When you change any part of a system, the whole system changes.
  • Since the world is fundamentally different, it would be impossible for certain things to go back. The system will not go back to what it was before.
  • Proactive and forward-thinking people will adapt; others will be traumatized and left to pick up the pieces for a long time.

[18:26] Facing the New Normal

  • Transitional periods are the times when you can get out of your rhythms.
  • If you make various changes now, it won’t be that extreme to your environment because everyone is undergoing change.
  • This is the perfect opportunity to make the desired changes and start anew.
  • Think of your future self. Who do you want to be?
  • Start making decisions based on who you want to be versus who you have been.

 [20:53] Making the Most of an Opportunity

  • If you do not have a future self you are striving to be, it will be tough to be intentional. It will follow that it doesn’t matter who you are today.
  • You may get stuck with the situation, be reactive, and follow the herd mentality.
  • Things that matter matter now more than ever.
  • Listen to the full episode for Benjamin’s tips on living intentionally during this pandemic.

[30:18]  Personality Is Not Permanent

  • When you empathize with other people, you understand them better. And when you understand them, you don’t box them into fixed categories.
  • Through his book, Benjamin wants people to be compassionate and understanding toward their former self.
  • The people who might have hurt you or led you down the wrong path deserve as much compassion and empathy.
  • If you can do these things, it frees you from your past and opens up your future.

 [33:50] The Victim Mindset

  • Things are happening either for you or to you.
  • Victims are people who do not understand emotional regulation and reframing.
  • Victims are committed to the past instead of the future. This limits their potential for growth.
  • If you’re committed to a future version of yourself, then you fixate on the incidences in your life as they occur. Instead, you reframe them to support you.

[35:49] On Personality Tests & Identity

  • Personality tests can give you an identity. But this identity can give you a fixed mindset.
  • It is not who you are today that matters.
  • The problem today is that people over-identify with their personality. They do not hold it loosely enough to realize their future self is going to be different.
  • These tests give you a label, and you just confirm it instead of striving for the person you can become.

 [39:49] Other Topics Tackled in His Upcoming Book

  • It also talks about how to reframe trauma and touches on why people do not change.
  • It shifts the focus on your future self instead of your past in understanding your behavior.
  • Also, it explains how your future self can drive your daily behavior.

 [41:15] On Trauma

  • Past experiences can shape what we do. We may think we are a certain person, but in truth we are just responding to the negative event we experienced.
  • Trauma freezes your personality. It keeps you stuck in the past.
  • In trauma, there is no emotional regulation. You just internalize things and do not deal with them.
  • Trauma isn’t what happens to you. It’s what you hold on the inside.
  • Listen to the full episode to know more about trauma and how to address it.

[52:20] On Spirituality

  • His faith in God affects his perspective.
  • Faith in God is a powerful thing to have, but it doesn’t take away his belief in science or in business. His faith supports both and helps him grow, learn, and seek change.
  • Life is like a classroom. Human beings are here to learn, grow, develop, and change.
  • From a Christian perspective, God can change the meaning of former sins or former pains. The past can be redeemed, and you can be transformed.
  • God is bigger than some label.

 [57:18] Willpower & Decision-Making

  • We all have willpower, but it doesn’t always take us where we want to go.
  • Willpower is the ability to make high-quality decisions.
  • If you rely on willpower in bad situations, you’re probably going to make poor decisions.

[1:03:47] Message for the Readers of His Book 

  • Read the introduction section seriously.
  • More than our abilities, it’s our choices that show us who we really are.
  • You can be your future self. If you don’t, then you have limited your ability to make choices. 

5 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

“From my perspective, your ability to make choices and have agency is limited by your context, by what’s available to you. If you don’t have options, you can’t make choices.”

“If you’re committed to a future, you don’t invest so much in episodes along the way. And in fact, you then choose to frame those so they can support you continuing towards your future.”

“What trauma does is it shatters your flexibility; it shatters your ability to learn. And instead, you have no future. Everything is based on what happened in the past.”

“You can’t have motivation without hope. And so, motivation, hope, confidence, faith, courage—these things that make people exceptional—require striving for a future, not just dwelling in your current self.”

“Regardless of what some personality tests told you are, regardless of who you’ve been in the past, you can choose to be different.”

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