Whatever we think we are, or say we are; our own and others’ perceptions largely result from: what we do.
Of course, we are not wholly defined by behaviours nor should we be.
Sometimes life demands we reveal only a sanctioned side of ourselves, such as in an oppressive regime or unsafe family/relationships where it is prudent to keep parts tucked away.
We’ve probably all been in states at some time or another where we’ve acted ‘out of character’. A normally loving parent may lose their temper, a trusted colleague unable to hold their ground might kowtow to a decision they do not like, a partner forget to call the other to advise of a change of plan.
But the very expression suggests that these are anomalous events that do not reflect the way we normally behave. Want to know what truly drives someone? Listen to the words but pay acute attention to the patterns that appear in their lives. These are the shape of accumulated choices, some deliberate, others not, and a powerful narrative.
It’s also important to recognize that how we behave is in part situational.
Emotionally aware people know that different times call for different styles. We may need to be tough in driving a legal outcome but empathetic delivering bad news or responding to someone’s pain. This does not lead us away from the core, on the contrary, values act as an anchor from which we extend our reach into the world.