‘I am what I choose to become’

By Paula Ahillon on personalities, temperaments and inspiring personal growth

Nobody wants to be boxed in.

‘Don’t you think we have enough categorisation in the society we live in?’

This kind of thought process is most likely the reason why there are a number of people who are sceptics when it comes to popular theories behind temperament and personality tests.

SO, first of all, lets get some things clear:

  • Temperaments are defined as a pattern of inclinations or reactions preceding our physiological constitutions.
  • Personalities are behaviours shaped by our environment, experiences, individual goals, and our temperament (the whole nature and nurture business).

Personality and temperament tests aren’t meant to box you in. They are simply indicators and not definitive guidelines that serve as gospel!

We cannot deduce the whole of humanity to four temperaments (sanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic). Aren’t we more than just four temperaments?

People will possess characteristics of all four temperaments, whether you are the sociable sanguine, reflective melancholic, the strong-willed choleric, or the cool, calm and collected phlegmatic.

However, each person will exhibit predominant qualities of a given temperament, so it is possible they can be classified under a particular type.

More often than not, people will lean towards two dominant temperaments. For example you may predominantly possess a combination of sanguine and choleric traits, but that doesn’t mean you possess every single quality of the two types.

But if you’re not a complete sceptic who thinks these theories should be left to the cosmos then chances are you’re the other extreme – you’re a personality/temperament fanatic who has chosen to box themselves in.

You know when people pull that ‘it’s my character, it’s just the way I am’ card?

Picture this common scenario: “I can’t bring myself to go to that party – I’m an introvert and introverts always prefer a quiet night in.”

That’s not true.

The right approach: improving on our weaknesses & celebrating our strengths

Personality and temperament tests shouldn’t imply that you’re stuck with your limitations. Instead, they give you an indication of areas for self-improvement.

When you study your temperament or personality type, it should give you a general overview of your strengths and weaknesses.

A general overview and awareness of our weaknesses give us clear, specific direction for personal growth. Character, personality and maturity come to fruition when we take action and use the necessary measures to overcome the less-than-shining aspects about ourselves.

We should celebrate and build upon our strengths in one way or another too because our strengths make a fundamental contribution in shaping the society in which we live.

Ultimately we all want to be best version of ourselves, and our personalities and temperaments should inspire this.

SO… what’s next?

Well the rest is up to us.

Carl Gustav Jung, an influential psychologist who helped formulate what Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myer developed as the four letter acronym (aka the ‘16 personalities), said:

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

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