It’s easy to appear to be a certain way when everything’s going right and there’s no real scrutiny.
But somebody’s real character tends to emerge when the outer roles and masks are stripped away.
Here’s a look at how you can tell who somebody really is underneath…
1) What do they do when the chips are down?
Fairweather friends and good time lovers are one thing, but what does somebody do when the chips are down?
Do they turn on their friends or dig in even harder to support them?
Do they run from their business troubles and declare bankruptcy or do they buckle down and come up with a new strategy to rebuild without giving up?
2) How do they respond to crises and emergencies?
There’s nothing that shows who somebody really is like crisis and emergency.
This is not to say that those who freak out under pressure are bad people or “lesser.”
But hard times do show you a lot about what someone is made of.
The acclaimed video game “This War of Mine” is a great example, showing the hard choices that war and privation force on people and pushing you to make decisions about who to save and what to prioritize.
Do you steal medications from an elderly couple even if it might lead to them not surviving, or risk that your sister at home will die from her infection without the antibiotics?
In the game (and in life), your true character shines through not from your principles or beliefs, but from what you actually do…
And it’s not always (in fact rarely) as simple as purely “good” or “bad.”
3) What inspires them or disgusts them?
This question is a deep one that’s slightly different for all of us.
Of course, there are two things that make this more complicated:
a) Many of us are raised to believe in certain belief systems or philosophies that tell us what should inspire and disgust us, rather than forming our own judgments;
b) Many of us have a social “mask” that we wear around other people where we respond to events, art and people in the way we believe we “should” do so rather than how we actually feel.
That in mind, take a look at how somebody really reacts to what’s around them.
When the filter is off and they’re in the group chat after a few drinks, what comes out?
When they know they’re among friends, what do they really let loose about hating or praise?
4) What do they search for online most of the time?
You can tell a lot about somebody by what they search for online.
In fact, search engines like Google became massively wealthy partly by cross-referencing and collating the search patterns of people and selling then to governments and corporations.
On the more plebian level, however, what somebody searches for online does say a lot about them.
Even if it’s mainly just “funny cat videos,” that still tells us a lot: this person has a childlike sense of humor about animals and is probably fairly stressed out.
They’re searching for something innocent that makes them laugh.
5) Who do they call when they need somebody to talk to?
They say you can tell a lot about a person by who they spend their time with, and whoever this “they” is, they are absolutely correct.
But on the more specific level, who does somebody call when they’re in crisis?
Do they call up their dad? Their brother? Their old college crush?
Maybe they go online to seek out a life coach or a therapist…
This tells you a lot about somebody’s value structures and who they believe can really help them and provide answers and support when the skies are gray.
6) If they have the chance to cheat with zero consequences, will they?
Another important situation that shows who somebody really is comes about when they know they can cheat without getting caught.
Granted, there might not be much way to check if somebody does this and tells nobody.
But if you have a guy or gal friend who tells you about his or her cheating escapades and you’re sworn to secrecy, you probably also feel a little lowering of your estimation of this person.
That’s because they just showed you a bit more of their true character, or at least where their moral compass is at this point in life.
7) What do they do when somebody is being bullied or harassed?
We can see so much about somebody by how they react to bullying and harassment.
This is an ongoing debate particularly when some people who step in to help get injured or harmed by the bullies or harassers.
But it’s clear that at a certain point everyone does have to make that decision inside themselves:
Do I take a risk to prevent harm and speak up or do I let it happen and hope nobody hurts me?
8) How do they react to somebody else defeating them?
Next up we can learn so much about somebody by how they react to defeat.
This goes beyond simple categories of “good” or “bad,” once again.
For example, I react very poorly to defeat and generally get angry and resentful.
Does this mean I am shallow, egocentric and insecure? Possibly!
But it may also mean I am a dedicated team player, committed to my goals and competitive!
Nonetheless, we can learn a lot about how people respond by what they do when they lose: in business, in life, in love.
Do they accept it with grace or rage, cry and resist? Do they take a new track or double down on their previous gambit?
9) How do they maintain their living space?
This is on the more ordinary side, but how somebody maintains their living space also says a lot about them.
Dr. Jordan Peterson became famous for telling depressed young men to start by cleaning their rooms, but he was making a deeper point:
How we handle and organize our personal space is a microcosm in many ways of how we approach life as a whole.
You can’t always tell right on the surface, either. Somebody may clean up very nicely just before you arrive.
But if you are close to somebody, pay attention to how they keep their space over time:
Are they organized and clean or fairly messy and chaotic?
10) How do they handle and manage their finances?
Finances are another mirror that shows a lot about who someone is.
In fact, finances can be thought of as a metaphor or symbol of how we use our energy.
One person saves her money and takes care of her finances, practicing responsibility and care…
The other person spends her money recklessly, going through big moments of euphoria followed by regret…
The third individual feels disgusted by money and gets depressed when the subject comes up. He prefers to avoid the topic altogether and is a bit of a freeloader when it comes to getting the necessary money to pay for his life…
Three people, three very different relationships with money.
11) What spiritual or religious teachings resonate with them?
You can tell a lot about somebody by what they resonate with spiritually and religiously.
Certain people will crave a more organized and doctrinal faith, while others will seek out an open, interpretive path…
Certain individuals will feel repulsed by spirituality and religion, while others will feel deeply drawn to it…
As for what type of path they walk down or whether they change around a lot, this really differs by the individual!
And it says a lot about their character and what’s most important to them, as well as the way they experience life.
12) What do they do when nobody else is looking?
There’s so much you can tell about somebody by seeing what they do when nobody else is looking.
Of course, the question is: how would you know?
I don’t recommend spying on anyone or tracking their phone and similar ventures.
But on the deepest level, how somebody acts and feels and talks when nobody’s watching is generally who they really are, or at least their “default state.”
Many people will sink into their “real” or default state when they become very comfortable around someone, such as in a deep friendship or intimate relationship.
Then you can be sure that sooner or later the mask will come off and you’ll see this person’s true character!
Who is the real you?
The question of who somebody truly is under all the outer masks is a deep question.
We are all in constant evolution and changing, yet it’s true that we have patterns of behavior and action that define us.
Taking the above situations into account you can definitely see how people are shaped by their responses and you can also grow in self-awareness by taking a look at yourself in such conditions as well.
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