What will make a difference in our personality development? A recent study published in the Journal of Personality with young adult couples found that their anxiety and insecurity significantly lessened over time when they were in stable long-term relationships. The researchers assessed both neuroticism and relationship satisfaction and concluded “the positive experiences and emotions gained by having a partner change the personality – not directly – at the same time the thought structures and the perception of presumably negative situations change.” In other words, love enables us to approach life with greater confidence instead of assuming the worst. Although it is difficult to change an entire personality, the study supports the conclusion that negative thinking can be unlearned and having a stable relationship can be a factor in that change. Likewise, these psychologists from the German Universities of Jena and Kassel concluded that even those who suffer from depression or anxiety can benefit from a positive relationship.
Of course being in a healthy, supportive, and encouraging relationship will have the most positive influence on personality growth. We can learn from each other when we value and respect the other person. I believe that learning is a life-long process that requires us to be humble, open, and grateful to those we learn from. When we work on changing aspects of our personality, we will probably feel closer to the important people in our lives. Change takes time, work, and energy, but inaction limits our ability to experience joy and happiness in life. Accept each other’s differences in priorities, personality styles, and mindsets. As it is written in Proverbs 27:17: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Love can make you stronger and more effective, if you let it happen. Don’t be afraid to change, it’s never too late!