It’s never too early to start thinking about a costume for Halloween! Right now you can find the greatest array of selections available. If you can imagine it, you can probably find the costume and accessories to make it happen. What a fabulous holiday! It’s like we’re all given this universal permission slip to try on a whole new persona!

Ever since I was little I loved playing make-believe. In past years, I’ve been a geisha, stone-age cartoon character, princess, monk, mermaid, vampire, spider woman, gypsy, witch, saloon wench and buccaneer.

My penchant for playing dress-up didn’t fade with age. I get a new costume every year because I get such a kick out of donning a disguise. My favorites have been when I was utterly unrecognizable! I’m always amazed how the smallest change of makeup or a wig can give me a whole new look. I also enjoy watching other people’s reactions to what I’m wearing and how I feel and act when I’m dressed as a whole different character.

And you don’t have to wait until Halloween to see what I mean. You can try on a different costume of sorts any time of the year, by “trying on” a different personality type. Experimenting with different aspects of personality is a great way to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the boundaries of your comfort zone, expand your personality repertoire, and pick up some valuable life skills.

Here are three ways you can “try on” a different personality:

Pick a letter, any letter

One way to experiment with a different personality type is to pick an opposing letter for one of your four personality type areas. Let’s say you are, like me, an ENFP. Just for a day you would purposefully pretend you are just one different letter of the alphabet. So, instead of being your same-old, same-old ENFP, you could be an INFP, ESFP, ENTP, or ENTJ for a day. Four different possibilities to choose from.

Here’s how that works. Now, I am not a naturally structured, organized person. But it’s fun to try on a “J” for a day. So, I set my mind to wearing my “judge costume” once in a while just to see what that feels like and what I can learn. My natural instinct is to fire, ready, aim. But, on occasion, I like to behave as if I’m an organized, orderly creature. Just for a day, I’ll act like a “J” and make lists and pretend I enjoy moving deliberately from one task to the next (gasp!) even completing one before moving on to the next.

Experimenting like this gives me the opportunity to broaden my repertoire of approaches to people, places and things. They say, practice makes perfect, and I’ve found that by spending time being more judge-like, and more organized and structured, I am becoming more that way.

Act like someone you know

Another way you can try on another personality is to behave like someone you know that has a different personality type than your own. I’m blessed to be married to my polar personality opposite, so when I struggle with how my opposing character might behave, I only have to conjure up my “Inner-Charlie” and I know exactly how that might look. I ask myself, “What would Charlie do?” Then, I go about behaving that way. When I want to behave like a rational thinker, I tackle the problem at hand as I imagine Charlie would and replicate the same behavior I’ve seen him model. I’m always a little chagrined when his approach gets me better results than if I’d acted like I’m inclined to naturally.

Whenever you want assistance with a given situation, think of someone who manifests the personality aspect you want to emulate the most. Think of your favorite introvert or feeler; intuitive or judger. Consider how they would act in a certain circumstance and then behave accordingly.

Take it for a test-run

Experience has taught me that my natural tendencies and instincts are not always the best ways of handling every situation. One example? I haven’t always made the best decisions when it came to car-shopping. My inclinations to go with my gut/feeling/in-the-moment-desire have not served me well. The last time I purchased a vehicle I parked the intuitive, feeling sides of my personality and test-drove my thinking, sensing ones.

I studied consumer reports, safety analyses, and Road and Track magazines. I even surfed the web. Armed with solid data, I listened for rattles under the hood and studied the feel of the steering wheel vibrating in my hands. I systematically went through a ten-point inspection of each car in contention. When I settled on one, I dispassionately negotiated the price and held to my previously determined bottom line. I did not let my emotions sway me.

I ended up buying a great vehicle at an excellent price. A white one, the most practical color, according to what I had read. And, yes, it still turned out to be a lot of fun to drive! That purchase became a life-lesson to take along alternate personality aspects everywhere I go – just in case I might need them.

The next time you face a challenging situation, see what happens when you let a different personality type take the lead.

What can you learn?

I’ve learned a lot by playing dress-up every Halloween; how a mask allows me to behave just a little differently than I normally would. And even though I’m not a femme fatale, it is fun to bat a pair of false eyelashes and pretend that I might be. While I’m not the bravest chick on the planet, I can heroically wield a light saber as Princess Leia.

I've had a lot of fun dressing up in different costumes over the years as each one taught me a little something about myself. I learned that I really am a feeling type. I don’t like wearing scary outfits because they can startle and frighten children. I also found that I always gravitate towards costumes with wigs because I love wearing longer length hair. That discovery led me to growing my own hair out, and I love it. I got so many compliments from how I wore my princess makeup one year that I learned to use a bolder hand when applying my makeup every day.

When we try on other personality types we can learn a lot too. I’m disciplining myself to channel my inner introvert. To take the time – on purpose – and get into my head and see what I might be trying to tell myself if I’d give myself half a second to listen. It’s helped me overcome my loathing for solitude and to appreciate the benefit of my own counsel.

See what happens when you try on a different personality costume. Remember: Just because you are one personality type doesn’t mean your behavior is set in stone. You can be whatever you want to be – on Halloween and every other day of the year. No mask required.

Ellen Lambert
Ellen Lambert studied at California State University Fullerton and the University of California Santa Barbara, earning an MA in interpersonal communication. A motivational speaker and writer focusing on health, well- being, and self-improvement, she is a card-carrying ENFP, and also serves as a BHQC, (bad habit quitting coach). She is committed to helping others free themselves from the habits that hold them back from living the lives they can enjoy. She lives with her ISTJ husband Charles and their INTP German Pincher, Rex Luther in Buffalo, Texas.