We have heard about the four basic temperaments of human beings and their attributes.
The Sanguine person is the extroverted talker who is a lot of fun, has a lot of friends, but can’t seem to stay committed to anyone or anything. The Choleric one is the extroverted doer who boldly gets things done, commands the respect of others but ruthlessly uses people as they bulldoze their way through a project. The Melancholic one is the introverted thinker who is very artistic, creative and detailed but who usually has mood swings and finds faults with others. The Phlegmatic person is the introverted watcher who lives peacefully, cares about others but can’t seem to break away from timidity.
Of course, we have also heard that everyone of us has all these temperaments in varying proportions and that the most dominant one or two of these temperaments affect our behaviour and lifestyle.
The truth is that a person’s temperament is an integral part of a person’s nature. However, I’m afraid that many people take the idea of temperaments way too far. Many people have labeled themselves with their dominant temperament and allowed its resultant limitations to form a major part of their beliefs.
Some people have decided that they cannot do some things because of their specific dominant temperaments. Others have decided that the only reason they can do something is because of their temperament. It’s not uncommon to hear people making excuses like, “You know I’m Sanguine. I can’t stay committed to one project for a long time”. Or “I’m Phlegmatic. I can’t stand and speak before a crowd.” A person could even say something like, “You know that so and so has a Choleric temperament, she’ll get the job done.”
Using the last example, the fact that a person gets the job done should have nothing to do with the fact that that person is a Choleric. It should have everything to do with the fact that a person is committed. If being choleric makes it easier to get the job done, then it’s just an advantage.
The role of your temperament in understanding your personality is important. But it is not an excuse for holding yourself back from what you want to do or what you have to do. No matter what temperament you have, it is not a prison that is meant to hold you back from being who you were meant to be.
Each temperament has certain negative attributes, but these attributes are not a permanent sentence. It doesn’t mean that you cannot even try to break free from the limitations and struggles of your temperament.
I’m not saying that it would be easy. I am saying that it is possible to do the things that people with your temperament don’t usually do. Yes, you will need to have a shift in your belief and you will need to be more disciplined. Nevertheless, regardless of what your temperament is, you can make things work.
What is your dominant temperament? Have you ever viewed it as a limitation?