Why do people turn to cleaning or other focused activity when they’re stressed out? Stress has a way of bringing out the best or worst in us. Often times we are totally unaware that our personality traits are intensified by stress. Your spouse may point out that your need for control is ramped up these days or your tendency to procrastinate heightened. We tend to fall back on old traits and patterns that give us stability, comfort, and security in a strange way. The problem with this scenario is that some of these traits are negative and damaging to our relationships. Lets say you’re a perfectionist by nature and the increased stress in your life has resulted in you taking longer and longer to complete tasks. Maybe your need for perfection is being directed toward your partner which adds to your conflict and stress level. Can people change their personality? We can modify and tone down traits, but can not completely revamp an entire personality. However, small changes in personality can make a huge difference in relationships and life. How has stress impacted your personality? Awareness is the first step in change. Stress exacerbates many factors in our life, including personality, but having a game plan to change requires some reflection, insight, and strategies. Next week I will explore the origin of our traits and offer solutions for change. In the meantime, ask someone close to you to point out which aspects of your personality change when your stress level is high.