Why do we need an awareness of the existence of temperaments in the first place? And once we become aware of the existence of temperaments, why do we need to know what the existing temperaments are? Furthermore, why do we need to know what our own temperament is? Answer: It really helps to be aware of the existence of temperament, know which temperaments exist, and discover which temperament we seem to fit into because it helps us to understanding everyone better.
Temperaments (Categories) Are Much Needed Because…
Sorting helps us learn.
Temperaments help us see the basic pattern of urges and drives that sort people into helpful, understandable groups. (That’s what Hippocrates and Galen insightfully gave us). There are often too many details to observe about a person to hold all those details in our minds at once and sort them out. We must be able to sort the main distinguishing strengths out from those that are peripheral details in order to truly understand ourselves or others. This is the first step in better understanding everyone.
People are complex.
All persons are highly complex organisms. The mere complexity of their actions and emotions can quickly confuse our understanding of what we need to observe. Consequently, the complexity creates great difficulty in understanding everyone. Therefore, understanding the four temperaments helps us see the true core characteristics of a person’s makeup.
People are unique.
The four temperaments focus on the similarities among people. At the same time, they acknowledge the endless differences that form a person’s distinctiveness. In other words, each of us is an amazing individual creation while also sharing core similarities with others.
It helps us avoid misunderstandings.
Our infinite differences can quickly cause us to misread who a person is at their core. As a result, we become confused about who they really are. The similarities we share with others should not be surprising, because we all share obvious similarities with others in our physical makeup. In addition, we can also expect to find similarities in our nonphysical makeup. To put it another way, we are looking for the pattern in which we all are designed. It is that pattern is what divides us into what we have observed over the ages as four observably different temperaments.
Temperament understanding provides “road signs” to help us stay on the right path to our own happiness.
The pattern in which we all are made is our fundamental, unchanging drive. However, each of us is also endowed with the ability to decide freely what we want and how we will act. This freedom is coupled with the freedom and ability to change our behavior as we change our perception of our circumstances. Furthermore, we can act contrary to who we are (that is, according to our defining core drives). For example, you have no doubt noticed a person who is dominantly a kind person. But you may observe them acting kindly one moment and unkindly the next.
- Understanding temperament aids us in forming positive relationships. Understanding a person’s true self — one they long to be known as — is what increases our chances of forming a satisfying and rewarding relationship with them. While completely understanding everyone is not a practical goal, we can certainly improve all of our relationships with some understanding of the four temperaments to guide us.
- We have studied the inner core strengths of humans for millenniums. We have discovered a compelling story of a distinguishing pattern at our core — a family of related strengths.
- Everyone categorizes themselves and others for practical purposes. This is because we can’t accurately understand a person if we don’t see their recurring pattern (ie their inner default mechanism). On the other hand, if we all are a random assemblage of strengths or urges that contradict each other, we will forever be misunderstanding each other.
The Current Emphasis to Define Us By Our Differences
Scientists seeking to understand us often examine our countless differences. As a result, they fail to see the picture of our compelling similarities. Remember, differences are infinite; similarities are finite. Similarities group; differences divide. Similarities foster understanding; differences cause confusion in getting to know a person (or even ourselves, for that matter).
An Analogy May Clarify:
All trees have similarities — trunks, leaves, twigs, bark, sap — but all are different. We call a tree a tree. But we also refer to it by a category — perhaps it is an oak. But still looking more closely, we may assign a further distinction — perhaps a Gambel Oak. And remember this: no two Gambel Oaks are ever absolutely identical, either. The way it is with nature is the way it is with humans. We have observed four large patterns in people from the observation of Hippocrates to this day. We will now show that no two humans — even of one temperament — are identical.
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