Are You All You Were Born to Be?

Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein are identical twins. As part of controversial (and now widely regarded as unethical) research project in the 1960s and ’70s, they were separated as infants, as an attempt to resolve the “nature versus nurture” dispute.” Neither knew that she had a sister, let alone an identical twin, until they found each other at 35 years of age.

Over the past couple of centuries, psychologists and sociologists have debated whether a person’s personality is inborn or born “blank” (tabula rasa) until formed by environmental influences. My observations have led me to believe that this is a moot question. We are formed by complex interactions of both our inborn nature and everything that we’ve experienced since birth. While the results of the study involving Bernstein, Schein, and eleven other children (there was one set of triplets) have been sealed until 2066, the stories of the women themselves substantiates this. “It’s not just our taste in music or books,” says Bernstein. “It goes way beyond that. In her, I see the same basic personality. And yet, eventually we had to realize that we’re different people with different life histories.”

If you are a parent of more than one child, you’ve seen how essentially the same environment and similar DNA can produce vastly different results. One child loves sports, the other music. Once child comes into the world outraged by every discomfort, while one placidly tolerates the chaos caused by her more intense sibling. And yes, even identical twins, formed with the same DNA, have unique personalities, interests and talents. When these children grow up with an understanding of their true selves, they stay within a state of self actualization. Too often, though, external pressures and flawed perceptions and understandings corrupt this knowledge before they become adults.

In my previous blogs, I asked you to look at your background and how it led you to your current world view, self-perception and expectations. That would be the “nurture” origin of your personality. Now it’s time to look at the nature side: who you were born to be, and how your understanding of that might be veiled by your experiences and environment. I break it down this way:

• Your natural state. This is the personality you were born with – your unique feelings and emotions. If it’s heavily obscured by time and experience, it might only emerge when you’re under heavy pressure and stress.

• Your social state. This is the personality that you’ve been programmed to believe you “should” be.

• Your logical state. This is how you’d like to be. This is your most effective state, and you know it. As you develop from your natural state into your logical state – bringing into reality the potential you were born with – you achieve self actualization.

Do you want to succeed in your life? The word “success” means different things for different people. If you don’t know who you are, you won’t have a clear definition of what success means for you. You can’t accomplish what you can’t identify.

Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation, leadership, and teams. His tools and methods have helped hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of people transform the ways they work and live. To learn more, visit


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