It is hard to quieten the feeling that differences matter more than similarities. Isn’t it differences that destroy relationships? We are told by some to marry someone who has the same interests for this reason. Friends who have the same interests and temperament often get along well. However, persons with the same interests and temperament do not always make the best marriage partners. We are led to believe that differences matter more by using the persistent argument that finding our temperament “limits” us to the strengths of one temperament — which never happens. When we find our dominant inner strengths (our temperament) we do not limit ourselves to using those strengths alone. Temperament simply means one pattern of strengths dominates and identifies our temperament. And it highlights our similarity to others of the same temperament.
Reason #1, supporting that we are not “cloned”
Our choice to use strengths (for whatever reason) that do not belong to our temperament’s family of strengths comprise the first and most obvious reason that we are not cloned by our temperament. Our answers to the Temperament Key’s questions result in numbers listed for each letter (either a letter describing our temperament or the opposite of it). They also lead us to the conclusion that we are not clones.
Now, let’s take a closer look at further reasons why our own temperament does not clone (box, limit) us. The possible differences within our temperament, rather than resulting in restrictions or limits of any kind, provide infinite, boundless options for uniqueness.
The Infinite Nature of Temperament Differences
In this section, I want to make sure you understand how the differences among the individuals within one temperament can create uniqueness for us all. Science cloned a sheep, but we humans don’t like feeling like we are clones. And we are not, as I will show you.
Here are ten possibilities that add up to infinite possible differences within each of the temperaments:
Read as far as you need to slay the false idea that temperament “boxes” or limits us in any way.
1. The variations in the numbers that accompany the letters begin to tell the story of differences in each individual within the same temperament. Here’s how:
- Your answers to the Temperament key result in assigning a number to each of the letters — from 1 to 9 in the first pair of letters (E or I) and 1 to 15 for the remaining pairs. This means the potency shown by the number that appears with each letter makes for possible differences in expression. Ten is more potent or strong than one, for example. These numbers result from answers the person gave to four “basic questions” that form the Temperament Key.
- With each change in number, the strength of that feature of the temperament also changes. (I am using the word strengths to indicate the multiple dominant features that make up that temperament.)
- For some people, lacking awareness of the presence of all the strengths of a given temperament in them creates more differences. This becomes obvious when the person is asked to rate each of the strengths on a scale of 0 to 10. Zero means “I don’t feel that is me at all” and ten means “It couldn’t be stronger.” When the strengths of the temperament are rated, it is possible for the awareness of one or more to be missing in any temperament.
2. The influence of one letter on the other letters can change or “color” the way the other letters are expressed. The temperament remains the same. However, the “feel” of the letters from one person to another can be notably different.
- For example, an “E” (extrovert) will change the feel of, let’s say, the “F” (feelings) in the profile of four letters, giving it a more vibrant, expressive nature than the “I” (introvert, which is the opposite of E) might.
- Also, think of kindness, which is one of the strengths that make up the NF temperament. It will also appear “dressed differently” in the “E” (ENFP, ENFJ) than it will in the “I” (the INFP or the INFJ). Note as well that this goes for all the letters in a given profile. The influence of one letter on the other letters and on the temperament’s strengths can make for multiple differences when all four letters and the temperament’s strengths are interacting and “coloring” each other.
3. Emotions come in an infinite variety.
Of course, we all know of the infinite variety of emotions — especially if we are parents. Emotions themselves can be seen as infinite in number or “color.” All strengths of each temperament are, therefore, further defined by the four letters, their different degrees of potency and color, plus how their interactions shape each other. And we find that the infinite emotional expressions they can adopt further define them. We a have next to an infinite number of differences that are possible for each person just within one temperament. But we are not finished yet.
4. The different motivations for how and why a strength is used and for its purpose affect how that strength is seen.
These motivations arise in us not only out of the infinite circumstances we face in life. They also arise out of our individual beliefs and values.
5. The variety of talents or gifts that can arise from just one strength in a given temperament can make for yet another expression of a temperament’s infinite differences.
All of these things can’t help but fashion a remarkable uniqueness for each person. Talents are not the same as inner strengths. They are the skills that the strengths enable. And they multiply the variances of possible expressions still more.
6. The amount of effort we have put into building and developing our strengths will create strengths of different maturity.
We can now add to the differences caused by the maturity and unique nature of each of the strengths another cause for differences.
7. Our strengths’ individual development is shaped by all of the above and other influences in our lives.
Some are well developed. But none reach a point where no further improvement can be made.
8. Other non-temperament factors that come into play in our lives.
Non-temperament factors and things such as education and culture will naturally modify (usually to a lesser degree) how our strengths are seen and fashioned.
9. Temperament is not the only factor that defines the way we show ourselves to the world.
Features of our personality (which differs from temperament) will also make a difference in who we appear to be. Temperament is the permanent urges and drives deep inside us that shape how we think, feel, and act. Personality is the “in the moment” expression in different circumstances that others observe of who we are based on how we express ourselves. In one circumstance, we flare in anger. In another, we show kindness and calmness. The basic temperament can be shown to the world with infinite differences.
10. There are many more reasons for differences in the same temperament and even the same strength that temperament is expressing. But one more very important factor will have to suffice.
That important factor is the freedom to choose whether we use the strength, overuse it, or wrongly use it. No one doubts that a negative expression of a strength will be remarkably different from a positive one. Self-made variances and weaknesses can show to others distorted characteristics of our temperament and even negate the use of some strengths.
We could go on, but hopefully, you get the drift. We are all as individual as snowflakes. (But I’m not calling us “snowflakes”!) Yet we share commonalities that even shine through our differences. This overall defining pattern is the greatest help you will ever receive in understanding yourself and others. Why? Because it is the core of who we are and it does not change.
In my new book Who Am I?, I describe how we have become “crooked thinkers” and how to break out of this prison of the mind to become instruments of change for a better world by recognizing the source of our value as humans. You can get your copy HERE. (Psst! Subscribers to my weekly updates can receive a 15% discount and free shipping from the above link!)
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