The mind is a powerful thing.
And the primary psychological forces that shape us matter a hell of a lot.
That’s why I’m taking this look at what makes each of us who we are.
Let’s get deep.
24 psychological reasons why you’re the way you are
1) Your childhood
Nothing has a greater impact on each of us than our childhood.
How we grow up, with who and in what manner determines so much about our later life and who we become.
According to psychoanalysis pioneer Sigmund Freud, childhood also has five psychosexual phases: the oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital.
These stages correspond to our focus on receiving pleasure and a comfortable relationship with each of our regions.
If we are made ashamed, are left free to excess or are stunted at one of these stages, it will manifest in dysfunction in later life, according to Freud.
Our mind and body begins to grow from a young age as we process experiences, traumas, joys and confusions.
Our parents and elders instill social values in us and we begin to notice the contradictions, consistencies and interesting things around us.
2) Your culture
We all grow up in different cultures which have a massive impact on who we become.
The psychological effect of your culture can’t be denied:
Even if you disagree with the culture you were raised in, your opposition to it defines a core part of your psychological makeup.
Somebody else raised in a different culture, for example, may have none of the strong emotions surrounding certain issues which you do because they simply never experienced it.
In my own case I was raised in an alternative farm community based on a form of esoteric Christianity called anthroposophy. Think back to the land traditionalism meets hippie spirituality.
We didn’t watch TV or engage in many of the “modern” things of society, which greatly angered me and gave me a feeling of being unfairly “deprived.”
This opposition led to a rebellion which had a big impact on my psychological perception of the world and how it works, ultimately resulting in me realizing the culture I grew up in had been much wiser than I’d realized as a youngster!
3) Your relationships
There are few things in life which define us more than our relationships.
From our parents to our romantic partner and friends, socially connecting with others and relating to them is a key part of who we become.
Our relationships, from professional to personal, have an enormous psychological influence on who we become and what we believe and value in life.
According to the ancient Greeks there are eight primary types of love:
- Eros (sexual desire and passion)
- Philia (strong friendship and affinity)
- Pragma (long-lasting, trustworthy love)
- Philautia (love of the self)
- Ludus (playful and funny love)
- Agape (divine spiritual love)
- Storge (family love)
- Mania (obsessive love)
There is no doubt that we can experience different kinds of love.
One of the strongest forms of love that influences us is romantic love. We put so much hope and energy into it and try to make it work.
Then so often it seems to fall short!
But when it comes to relationships, you might be surprised to hear that there’s one very important connection you’ve probably been overlooking:
The relationship you have with yourself.
I learnt about this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. In his incredible, free video on cultivating healthy relationships, he gives you the tools to plant yourself at the center of your world.
And once you start doing that, there’s no telling how much happiness and fulfillment you can find within yourself and with your relationships.
So what makes Rudá’s advice so life-changing?
Well, he uses techniques derived from ancient shamanic teachings, but he puts his own modern-day twist on them. He may be a shaman, but he’s experienced the same problems in love as you and I have.
And using this combination, he’s identified the areas where most of us go wrong in our relationships.
So if you’re tired of your relationships never working out, of feeling undervalued, unappreciated, or unloved, this free video will give you some amazing techniques to change your love life around.
Make the change today and cultivate the love and respect you know you deserve.
4) Your genetics
There is an ongoing debate about nature and nurture.
In other words, are you more defined by the characteristics and talents of your parents or by the environment and culture you’re raised in.
It’s both, of course.
Personally I lean more on the side of genetics, and I even believe that we often have matters of karma and destiny to resolve from our ancestors.
As the great Armenian-Greek spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff taught, most factors that make us who we are lie beyond our control.
This includes things like the time we’re born, our culture, the level of spiritual evolution of our parents at the time of our conception and more.
It also includes factors like the experiences and level of being (consciousness) of our ancestors, whose memories and lives exist subconsciously inside us at a deep level.
There is no doubt that the experiences, struggles and triumphs of your ancestors forms a huge part of your psychology and how you see the world.
But this isn’t a death sentence by any means, nor does it mean you are trapped in repeating destinies of the past.
It all depends what you do with it.
5) Your religious or spiritual beliefs
Never underestimate the importance of your religious and spiritual beliefs, including not having any at all or remaining agnostic and open.
How are these shaped in the first place? A combination of every factor on this list, which is all interlinked, including your culture, education, genetics, your personal struggles and your development in every other area in life.
How you understand reality and the purpose of life has a bearing on every single other thing that happens to you or will ever happen to you.
If you believe life is designed by a creator or benevolent force, you will tend to see the events and trials of life as a test or a necessary down period before a meaningful end result.
If you believe we are all meat puppets on a rock left to the cruel fate of physics and mortality beyond our control, you may see the events and trials of life as meaningless suffering.
I remember seeing a tattoo to that effect on the arm of a French Canadian mechanic who fixed my car during a breakdown several years ago in Quebec.
As it said in large letters: Life’s A Bitch And Then You Die.
I mean, at least it’s straight to the point right? You have to give the guy credit for wearing his heart on his sleeve.
On the other hand, you may be more on the line of Christian existentialist Søren Kierkegaard. He basically believed that God was real and we do have souls, but that mortal life is also more or less designed as a pit of suffering and failure.
Sounds fun, right?
As I said, never underestimate the power of what you believe.
6) Your education
The lessons and concepts you are taught in school are critically important.
As young children, most of us attend institutions where teachers tell us what’s true and what matters.
For those who are homeschooled, these lessons come from parents, relatives or group leaders, but the concept is generally the same.
People in positions of authority are telling you what’s true and demonstrating why.
Governments, religions, parents and corporations are often deeply involved in crafting and influencing educational curriculums and there’s a reason for that.
When you control the ideas that shape people, you control people.
The importance of what you’re taught in your education and why can’t be overstated. It affects so much of how you see and respond to the world.
7) Your fights
All of us will experience conflict in life.
Along with those conflicts come alliances, enemies and injustices that we’ll never forget.
In my case, bullying had a large effect on my early life and the person I became.
The feeling of not belonging and not being accepted was deeply anchored inside me, along with a strong feeling of anger and alienation.
That made a deep psychological impression on me, and all the therapy, spiritual classes and religious services I’ve taken part in since then have never “erased” or replaced my own organic experiences.
It’s the same with everyone.
The real conflicts they experience in life with family, friends, strangers and peers leave a deep mark. They shape the way you see the world and the people in it.
They also shape your approach to conflict overall:
Maybe you avoid it at all costs or go out into the world already on edge and then shout in traffic…
8) Your friendships
Another one of the core psychological reasons why you’re the way you are is your friendships.
Friendships not only influence how we think, feel and judge situations and life…
They also reflect us back to ourselves in various ways.
We tend to become close friends and find a “link” with those who are similar to us in some way or going through similar experiences and emotions as us.
In this way, friends are both a catalyst and a mirror.
They show you who you are and change who you are.
And that’s pretty special, if you ask me!
9) Your value system
Like so much else on this list, your value system is interlinked with all the other formative psychological influences that make you are such as your culture, education, family background and friendships.
The fact of the matter is that everyone does not have the same value system.
A value system doesn’t necessarily determine your level of honesty, integrity or compassion. But it serves as a kind of inner monolog that urges you to comply with your values and chides you when you don’t.
Our value systems are both learned and taught.
We learn them from authority figures and also develop them through our own interpretations and experiences.
How many families have scoffed at a son or daughter who becomes vegetarian in opposition to their carnivore lifestyle?
Value systems about what we do, how we eat and how we live are constantly evolving and every individual ultimately decides for him or herself what to live by, at least on an internal level.
10) Your social belonging
We all need a tribe to belong to, even if that tribe is just having other individuals to speak to from time to time who share some of our interests and priorities.
One of the biggest formative psychological influences on us is our relation to the group.
How we think of ourselves as an individual and as a member or outlier from the groups around us plays a big role in what motivates and drives us.
Think of it as a sports team:
If you feel appreciated and needed on the team you are going to try your very hardest, make sacrifices and be committed long-term to the success of your team.
If you feel unappreciated and superfluous you are going to feel a sense of alienation and not be very committed to the long-term success of your team.
The psychological effect of your sense of belonging or alienation from society and those around you is very powerful.
11) Your relation to love and hate
What do you love and what do you hate?
It could be people, places, ideas and experiences.
The factors which spur strong emotional responses and attachments inside you have a massive psychological impact on who you become.
What you love and hate is often covered by a veneer of what you feel you’re supposed to love and hate.
But part of breaking the social conditioning around you and becoming who you really are is being fully honest about what you genuinely love and hate.
Maybe you hate overly polite people.
Maybe you hate sports.
Maybe you hate reading.
Maybe you love Gregorian chant music and the rain.
Maybe you love your dog and don’t really like your girlfriend.
Be honest – at least to yourself.
12) Your relation to sex and violence
As Jordan Peterson explains in this fascinating lecture on the power of the color red, sex and violence are deeply motivating factors for human beings.
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As both the color of sexual excitement and violence and blood, red sparks that evolutionary instinct in us that responds with either fear of danger or excitement at sexual opportunity.
How do you relate to violence?
Does it sicken you, make you want to run away and hide?
Or does it anger you and make you want to charge forward and fight?
How do you relate to sex? Does it make you ashamed and uncomfortable and feel vaguely guilty?
Or does it make you happy and open and feel liberated?
Or does it just not matter that much to you at all?
How you respond instinctively to sex and violence, and the social conditioning that’s shaped that response plays a big role in what psychologically forms you.
13) Your inner story
From a young age, all of us begin to write a story. It’s a story about ourselves.
It finds its way into our inner dialog and our outer perceptions.
It defines who we are in relation to others. It speaks to our purpose, or lack of purpose.
It talks about what we love and hate, and about the role we play in society that has been prepared for us to act out.
This inner story is extremely powerful.
It’s the myth that reflects and builds our life in a self-evolving narrative.
It is one of the biggest psychological reasons why you’re the way you are, and as you become aware of the story you have made about yourself you can also start to consciously adapt and change it.
You can consciously evolve, rather than just continuing on autopilot.
14) Your relation to time-preference
Another of the top psychological reasons why you’re the way you are is to do with your ability to delay gratification.
Those of us with time preference find it hard to put off gratification.
We want results, and we want them as soon as possible, partly for a mix of genetic, cultural and environmental reasons.
“A person with a time preference favors having a good sooner rather than later. As a result, the person also prefers having a good immediately to having a somewhat greater good later.”
If I offered you $500 now but said you could have $1,800 if you waited 10 months, which would you choose?
Many of us would just take the $500 and get on with it. Others would be patient and opt for the 10-month wait.
Time preference has a big influence on how we deal with life, other people and ourselves.
15) Your level of discipline
This is closely related to the previous point about time preference.
We all have different relations to authority and discipline. Those with golden child syndrome, for example, tend to worship authority.
Those who feel alienated from society often respond to authority with rebellion or dismissal.
But discipline isn’t just about doing what your dad or teacher says…
The deeper level of discipline is internal, as Samurai warriors and spiritual teachers have long taught.
The discipline you hold yourself to might be seen by nobody else but you.
But in the end it can set you apart from the person you used to be in enormous ways.
The psychological influence of how you think of discipline is huge.
16) Your economic reality
The relation of economic background to identity and social dynamics is well established.
The difference of growing up in a poor working class home or as the daughter of a billionaire tech CEO is massive.
Your economic reality, and the economic reality of your family has a huge psychological impact on who you are and how you see the world.
Much of this is subconscious and you might not even be aware.
I went to a boarding school paid for by my grandparents with other students from much richer families than me.
Much of their attitudes and ideas were strange to me at the time. Looking back I can see how almost everything about how they saw the world was more or less a program to replicate the economic dominance of their parents…
Right down to rich white kids cranking up Tupac and ironically aping the lingo of the ghetto while living off their dad’s credit card to buy $3,000 jeans on the weekend.
17) Your soulmate connection
Do you have a soulmate?
Maybe you don’t know…
To be honest I’m not sure, or at least I wasn’t.
The psychological influence of knowing you have a soulmate is huge and it’s made a big difference in my life.
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We can waste a lot of time and energy with people who ultimately we’re not meant to be with. True love is hard to find and finding your soulmate is even harder.
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I got a sketch drawn for me of my soulmate from a professional psychic artist.
Sure, I was a little skeptical going in. But the craziest thing happened – the drawing looks exactly like a girl I had recently met (and I know she likes me),
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18) Your habits
One of the most powerful psychological reasons why you’re the way you are is your habits.
There is perhaps nothing which begins to form us more into who we are than what we do each day.
Of course, this is not set in stone.
And learning to change habits can be an integral part of positive self-development.
So take a look at your habits.
What do you do usually every day? Why?
This is making you who you are and setting who you are into a more fixed identity. Do you like what you’re seeing?
19) Your diet
They say you are what you eat, and it’s hard to disagree.
What we put in our body has a big effect on our mood, energy level and mental clarity.
If you eat junk, sooner or later you start to feel like junk!
And your thoughts become a blurred out mess.
One of the top psychological reasons why you’re the way you are is what you generally eat.
And changing what you eat and going on a different diet is one of the life hacks that can make a rapid difference in how you feel and think.
20) Your rejections
Rejection hurts a lot.
And the rejections you’ve experienced in life are kind of like a magnifier or everything else.
What you’ve learned, the story you tell yourself, the identity you hold onto are all reinforced in painful ways by rejections.
In other cases you can use your rejections as catalysts and clarifiers to turn you more towards your purpose and joy.
But there’s no doubt that rejections have a big psychological influence on who we become.
21) Your triumphs
On the flip-side, your triumphs also do a lot to make you who you are.
They are reinforcers and can also serve as catalysts and clarifiers of your purpose and identity.
Winning feels good! It’s a pat on the back from the universe!
The only downside is when your wins make you sit back and rest on your laurels.
Because once you stop moving or get arrogant and complacent, inertia has a tendency to creep back in.
22) Your projections
Projection is a process where we blame others around us for behavior that’s actually coming from us.
For example, getting upset at someone for being impatient when they’re being perfectly normal…
When it’s actually you who is feeling extremely impatient.
That’s a common example.
Projections can do a lot of damage and cause confusion because they are like living in a hall of mirrors where we misunderstand and misinterpret the behavior of those around us.
23) Your repressed desires
Is there something you want but feel uncomfortable to say?
These repressed desires are one of the top psychological reasons why you’re the way you are.
According to psychologists like Freud and Carl Jung, sometimes our repressed desires come out in dreams or in unusual behavior…
But they can also manifest in psychosis, anxiety, depression and serious mental issues.
When we’re not honest with ourself, the creatures under the surface begin to rise up and mount a revolt.
24) Your conception of your own identity
Who do you think you are?
Is it more defined by your role in society, your beliefs, those you love and hate or by something else entirely?
Do you feel your own identity is a mystery or more or less settled?
Does the question even interest you? (I hope so, if you’re reading this article).
The point is that a big psychological influence on who you are is what you think you are in the first place!
Self-conception is a powerful force.
It’s all a part of me, that’s who I am…
Understanding more about what made you the way you are is powerful.
It’s like having the master key to a vault of gold.
You now know what makes you tick, and you have many clues about how to begin changing it.
But in order to start making upgrades and growing into yourself, you’re going to need to get a power boost.
And doing this requires leaving behind the judgments and labels of the outside world and looking yourself right in the eye.
Most of us are like a 1,750 horsepower SSC Tuatara race car operating at only 25% of our full power.
…Or even less than 25%.
It’s time to turn that around!
Here’s a video of the Tuatara accelerating to give you inspiration.
If you want a life that exceeds all your expectations:
You need to not only accept who you are, but begin to mold it into a deeply powerful, creative individual.
So what can you do to fully claim and embrace your own personal power?
Begin with yourself. Stop searching for external fixes to sort out your life, deep down, you know this isn’t working.
And that’s because until you look within and unleash your personal power, you’ll never find the satisfaction and fulfillment you’re searching for.
I learned this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. His life mission is to help people restore balance to their lives and unlock their creativity and potential. He has an incredible approach that combines ancient shamanic techniques with a modern-day twist.
In his excellent free video, Rudá explains effective methods to achieve what you want in life and embrace your own power.
So if you want to build a better relationship with yourself, unlock your endless potential, and put passion at the heart of everything you do, start now by checking out his genuine advice.