Category : Lifestyle
Are we who we are because of our personality or do we have our personality because of who we are? It’s like the chicken and the egg – which is the reason for which and what comes first? We can equally argue that we are not our personality; it does not define who we are. Most people do not like to be categorized, though sometimes it can be fun to know our personality traits to see why we make the decisions we do in the way we make them or why we interact in a certain with others or in certain situations. Sometimes we even hide behind our personalities to avoid unpleasant tasks or to explain why we do or don’t do something.
Of course, we are not our personality. That is, personality alone does not define who we are. Humans are far too complex for such a limited categorization and our emotions, backgrounds and even our health and lifestyle all have enormous influence. One day we can be outgoing, on top of our game and quick with decisions and the next day we may not be able to make a single decision and not interested in talking to anyone. Our personality certainly is part of who we are and a general framework for how we view and interact with the world, and learning more about it can be enlightening and helpful.
There are different versions and explanations about personalities and each one sheds an interesting light on what kind of person we might be according to our personality. I personally like a straightforward and simple explanation. The one that I like best is found in Personality Plus, by Florence Littauer. This is a simple book that takes us through four different personalities.
The Choleric is described as the ‘born Leader’, the one who is “strong-willed” as a child always looking for ways to move forward and take over. He is never happy playing second fiddle to anyone. He is compulsive and quick to act, often shooting first and aiming second. These are the people who, when they come into your home, will reset the table and repolish the utensils; they will close any open cupboards and tell you how your home should be organized. They don’t ask, they just do. Chloerics are very good at making decisions quickly and without much consultation. They have solutions and can solve any problem – often solving other’s problems for them with or without their permission.
The Choleric is usually goal oriented and not people oriented. People often get in the way of his goals and he (the choleric) will be quick to let them know this. He is very good at delegating and breaking down big tasks into small chunks. These chunks are what other people are for (according to the choleric): to get the job done. The Choleric is very good at assessing a situation and determining the course of action. He thrives on opposition and challenge, is fired up by criticism and encouraged by the impossible.
Examples of a Choleric: The Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh, or Thorn in The Lord of the Rings
The Sanguine has a charming personality. Everyone and everything is a source of wonder and excitement. They see the positive in everyone. One thing is certain, the Sanguine always has fun; he draws people to him, he finds laughter in the smallest and most unlikely situations. For the Sanguine, life is an endless stream of exciting experiences. Everything seems exciting with the Sanguine.
You will be able to spot the Sanguine out in a group; he will be the one speaking the loudest (usually with a captive audience), telling the stories (embellishing the stories) and working up his story to suit the audience. The Sanguine is happiest being the life of the party surrounded by interested admirers. He can be dramatic and hilarious. The Sanguines are the people you want to have as masters of ceremony, club presidents, greeters, and teachers. The Sanguine is always curious – even about other’s conversations or about what people say about him. He likes to know what everyone is doing and feels left out if he is not informed.
Example of Sanguines: Tigger in Winnie the Pooh
The Melancholic is the polar opposite of the Sanguine; he is an introvert who enjoys his own company even it if it is not a happy company. He is, in his mind, unique and the only one (or one of the few in the world) who is right; everyone else is wrong and doesn’t understand. Playing games is not for the Melancholic; these are time wasters and pointless. Nothing should be done just for the fun of it.
The Melancholic personality tends to be on the moody side -way get excited about life since life is to be taken seriously? It can be a bit touchy trying to find out how he is wired. He can be at loggerheads with both the Choleric and the Sanguine since they tend to say what is on their mind and he (the Melancholic) thinks they are being insensitive and not considerate of his feelings. He fails to understand the excitement of the Sanguine, nor the driving energy of the Choleric and both intimidate him. But, if you want something done right, in perfect order with plenty of graphs and research to back it up, the Melancholy is the person to call.
Example of the Melancholic: Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory
The Phlegmatic is the easy-going personality, happy to be where they are and flexible enough to adapt to anyone’s plans. This personality seems to walk down the road of life and stay away from all conflict and decisions. Excess and extremes are not for the Phlegmatic. He is calm, in control, peaceful, and accepting of others. He enjoys living in the present and doesn’t worry too much about the future. He would rather not cause any trouble and not give his opinion on anything – whatever is good for others is good for him.
In an emergency, the Phlegmatic is the one you want to have around. The Choleric may be bark orders (even if he doesn’t know what he is doing), the Sanguine may scream in sheer panic and the Melancholic may sink into a hole of despair. But the Phlegmatic will quietly assess the situation, consider what to do and calmly go ahead and take care of the situation.
The Phlegmatic is also an incorrigible procrastinator. Don’t count on him to make decisions quickly or ever. He does not enjoy others thinking for him or making decisions in his place and his quiet stubborn streak will cause him to dig in his heels and quietly rebel.
Example of a Phlegmatic: Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit
While some may fit into one of these categories quite easily, most of us fall into two or more of them. We find that we are equally one and the other of two of the personalities. Some may find that they are a people-loving and excitable Choleric -Sanguine. Others may find that they share both the detailed Melancholic tendencies as well as the low key stubborn tendencies of the Phlegmatic. Sometimes, depending on circumstances, we can be completely different from what we were the day before. And, finally, we all can be good actors and put on a show when we need to. We can be bouncy for a time or calm for a time if we need to. Knowing the four personalities is really an interesting tool that we can use to help us understand our selves and others.
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