Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Who Really Cares About Personality?

What is the Big Deal with Personality?

Shall we pause for a moment, and answer the question.


This is kindof an interim post, a blog for those who think this pseudo science of temperaments is a waste of time: laughable at best, detrimental at worst. Not trying to convince you, really, just looking at the reasons why I find it interesting. It's the Choleric temperament that usually finds personality study offensive. I've even had a Choleric person get quite mad about it, stating that it is a terrible form of labeling, and people can change, and on and on etcetera. Which I agree with, to a point. People can and do change; they can overcome personality limitations and open themselves up to brave new worlds. The core temperament will remain the same, but it may be portrayed, or "read", differently.
 In cases of trauma or severe injury I do believe a personality may alter significantly, or shift. But to be honest I've only seen it in movies (e.g. Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford and Annette Benning).

 Take this Quiz!!

People are preoccupied, to varying degrees, with their personalities. How do I know? Well, for one example, the plethora of personality tests on Facebook and other social media.
"Which Lord of the Rings character are you?"
"Which Disney Princess would you be?"
"Which city should you really live in?"
All of the above are attempting to reveal who you are on the inside, based on how you answer certain questions. Choose a nail polish, a novel, a time of day...every selection says something about your personality.
First we want to find out what kind of person we are. We are very self-obsessed, us humans. Don't deny it, ok, unless you are Mother Teresa. Or the ghost of Mother Teresa, for the sake of accuracy...I should shut up now, I sense trouble...

Next, we might be interested in what our good friends or significant others answered those questions with.  Particularly if their result is, "You are Gollum", "Sebastian the crab", or "Your city is Atlantis". *-*

Movies or TV shows contain popular characters that we are likely to be familiar with. And any good story needs a cast of characters, or a cast of temperaments, if you get my drift. How the characters react to each other, how they dress, how they speak, how they enter a room - all these reveal their personality and give clues about their role. What makes it interesting is when a storyline turns this on its head, putting an unconventional personality in a conventional role, or vise versa. So many ways to shake it up! So many ways to misunderstand. Take Pride and Prejudice. Or Rabbit and Tigger. Moses and Aaron. Don Cherry and Ron MacLean?

Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter.

Has anyone ever said, "What on earth is wrong with you?  Why would you DO that?!"...when to you it seemed like a perfectly sane thing to do?
Now, imagine you are a Melancholy. You want to build a deck. But there are so many plans, so many types of decking, and should it be one tier or two tiers? Stairs? Railings? Flagstones? It's impossible. The plans sit stagnating on your desk for not one, not two, but seven long years. If you were Jacob, and the deck was Rachel, you could marry it. In pursuing the ideal deck, the perfect deck, you cannot move forward.

Now imagine (track with me here) a friend from out of town comes to stay....a Choleric friend. In the space of an hour one afternoon, he decides what would be the best deck for you, and while discussing it you agree. He is right! Oh, it seems so easy! And then you go into the local hardware sanctuary and order the deck! Voila.
"Why couldn't I do that?" you query.
Now remember this is just a scenario. Many Melancholies can and do make decisions. It depends what the blend is.

 (Yeah...about the way, each of us is a blend, and all this is simply the groundwork. Oops...)
The point here is if you know a little something about temperaments, you can answer your own question. It won't drive you to drink; it makes some logical sense.

A Match Made in Heaven

I'm using Choleric and Melancholy here because we haven't got to Phlegmatic and Sanguine yet. In the above example, Melancholy and his Choleric friend get along very well - they get things done.
 A Melancholy/Choleric blend in a PERSON is like a clockwork of activity and efficiency. Things get done, and they get done quickly and well. The Phlegmatic looks up, wondering what sort of tornado just flew past.
In a partnership, or marriage, Choleric and Melancholy are very complementary. But sometimes they might drive each other a bit batty. "Why did you go ahead and do that without asking ME??" the Melancholy sniffs, "I had some plans for that!"  Whereupon Choleric says, "You were never going to do it, so don't give me that. At least it's done now, and that's the main thing!"
 And depending on the blend, things can either dissipate or escalate from there....I'll leave it to your imagination.

Here's a bit of homework for you, dear reader. The next time you get into a disagreement with someone, or ask yourself why a particular person is so weird, or insane, or a few bricks short of a load... see if you can guess their basic temperament from the clues you have so far. And then see if you can guess yours. Then contemplate how those two might interact. It probably won't resolve the issue, but it may help to put it in perspective.
Or, maybe they are crazy.
Or (dare I continue) maybe you're a tad out to lunch. Probably not. I apologize for even mentioning such a thing. Never happen again.

“A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”
            ― Albert Einstein

“Looks like what drives me crazy
Don't have no effect on you--
But I'm gonna keep on at it
Till it drives you crazy, too.”
            ― Langston Hughes, Selected Poems


Monday, February 3, 2014

The Melancholic


Hello there. Let's continue looking at the four basic temperaments. And because we are in the land of the Melancholics, we will examine it all very seriously, and quite thoroughly.

Remember Mrs. Perfect? The one making lists, getting all in order, and yet can't relax and have fun at the party? Yep, it's kind of sad. A real Melancholy wouldn't bother organizing a "party", of course. Why not, you ask? Because - they are the truly introverted, and having a lot of people around is NOT a Melancholy's idea of a good time.

Being introverted is the trait shared with Phlegmatics, and being task-oriented is the trait shared with Cholerics. If I can draw a little diagram:

Simple, but it helps. Many people would be able to pinpoint where they are on this, though a little self-awareness and objectivity is needed. If a person tends to be energized by being with others, they are more extroverted. If someone feels exhausted after being with people, then introverted. If you tend to measure your day (and your worth) by what you've accomplished - tasks are the focus. If you are driven by relationships, be they close and one-to-one (phlegmatic) or more varied and dispersed (sanguine), your personality may be on the lower half of this diagram.
"I Don't Care!" you might be saying. That's alright! It's not everybody's thing.
"Know Thyself." It's written on the acropolis at Delphi. An ancient Greek quote attributed to Plato...and sometimes Socrates...and quite possibly Jack Black.... Plato also apparently said,
"Love is a serious mental disease."
So, the guy must have some credence. Obviously knew his stuff.

Melancholy temperaments tend to see the Downside of Things. If you are discussing, say, anything at all, they will point out what could go wrong, and the reasons why it probably will. This can be good if you are considering getting a tattoo, or going bungee jumping on your wedding day. It can be a real kick in the pants if you're trying to run a meeting, go on a trip, or perhaps launch a mission to Mars. I'm sure NASA has it's fair share of Melancholies checking, double-checking, and triple-checking the spaceship thingy. And they would die before calling it a "thingy"!

"Know Thyself? If I knew myself, I would run away!"

                                                            - Goethe

Melancholies tend to analyze things. People, situations, bits of paper on the ground, whatever. They will hold it up, look at it from every conceivable angle, and then walk away and stew about it some more. There's a whole lotta thinkin' goin' on. And this can be very good, when important decisions have to be made. And this can be very bad, when important decisions have to be made. A-HEM! (cough, cough)
 For example, if the decision involves what kind of paint to use in the kitchen, and it takes 5 years to decide.

Melancholies are perfectionists. The Ideal is so important, that the Real sometimes never happens. If, as a child, a person erased and re-drew pictures or sentences in a scribbler for school that weren't quite right.....they might be a Melancholy. If they rearrange the furniture a lot, or conversely if they NEVER rearrange the furniture. There is this curious thing about it being both ways, depending on other factors.
Melancholies match their clothing. Makeup, socks, jewelry, belt, sweater - all carefully chosen.
There is a right way to do everything, and melancholy temperaments have a tough time watching someone do it wrong.
A Phlegmatic-Melancholy will watch quietly from a distance, going crazy inside at whatever wrong thing is happening. Perhaps someone is stirring their tea aggressively, or washing windows with large, sloppy swipes. Ahhh!! SO annoying.
A Choleric-Melancholy will step in, grab whatever is offending and put it right. "No, like this", they are often heard saying. Your collar sticking up offensively? Your hair? They will pat it down. Taking too long to wash the car? They will take the pressure washer right out of your hands and show you exactly how to wash the car. Which can be fun, if you're smart about it.

Melancholies are also sensitive. Prone to anxiety and nervous habits, they can become depressed fairly easily. Moods are not the most stable, and can swing back and forth, but not in a showy, fantastic way. Melancholies often keep their moods to themselves, feigning a sort of calm exterior.
This sensitivity results in Melancholies being wonderful musicians, artists, and the like. Not always - but they will at least have a deep appreciation for music and art. There is a need to create that can be a great outlet for the inner emotional life of the Melancholic. When creative outlets are stifled they can become deeply depressed, and need to watch for this.

Many people who consider themselves of the Melancholy temperament love the color blue. It's not a rule or anything, they just do. 

Quiet, intensely thoughtful, carefully organized, the Melancholic can be a blessing to have around. If they become lost in a sea of dark thoughts, it can be hard to bring them around again to the light.
A few famous Melancholies are Sylvia Plath, Martin Luther, Sir Isaac Newton, Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway. Poet, theologian, scientist, painter, writer.

If you are a Melancholy, you will need quiet time alone. You will need to think, feel, express, create.
And remember - other people are not always the problem. Sometimes, the problem lies within, and it's brave and helpful to face that reality.

Understanding ourselves can open the door to understanding others. Which can be a beautiful thing.