Don't put me in a box! Understanding personality types can help you understand yourself and those close to you.
Temperaments, doshas and personality types.
I’ve been talking a lot about relationships in the past few blog posts, probably because I’ve been traveling with my family for the last six and a half weeks. We are living in close quarters most of the time and we all have some fire to our personalities. So we don't always have an easy time of it.
I’ve found that knowing and understanding more about my general tendencies and the tendencies of those around me, helps me to be more patient and get along.
There are many different philosophies around personality types. I’m going to give a brief rundown of the three that I am most familiar with, and then go more into depth on each in the coming weeks. This post is going to be wordier than my others, but I think it’s helpful information.
The Four Temperaments
My daughter went to a Waldorf school for six years, my son for about 3 ½ years. Waldorf schools follow a philosophy of Rudolph Steiner and the four temperaments (the four temperaments actually go back to the ancient Greeks). They are choleric, sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic.
Choleric is usually associated with fire. The choleric tends to be egocentric and extroverted.
Sanguine is associated with air. Sanguines tend to be sociable and carefree.
Melancholics are associated with earth and appear to be serious and introverted.
Phlegmatics are associated with water and can be inward and private, also calm and tolerant.
The second that I am familiar with is the Ayurvedic body types or doshas. I do a lot of yoga and have completed a teacher training with my teacher, Kofi. These also make a lot of sense and there is definitely crossover with the four temperaments. They consist of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata’s element is air and body type is thin, with a delicate bone structure and low body fat. They tend to have trouble gaining weight. They tend to be sensitive, spiritual, and maybe flighty.
Pitta’s element is fire and water. They tend to have a medium body frame, well proportioned, prone toward muscularity and easily over-heating. They tend to be type A personalities, don’t like to skip meals and compelled to accomplish things.
Kapha’s element is earth and water. They tend to have a larger body type, not necessarily overweight. They can gain weight easily, but can be strong, powerful athletes when in shape. They tend to be grounded, stable and solid.
Both the temperaments and the doshas usually have a primary type and lesser secondary combined.
Myers-Briggs Personality Types
The Myers-Briggs system identifies the unique personality types. The idea is that your thoughts, decisions and reactions come from your perception, and your perception is not random and variable, but rooted in your personality.
So if you understand how you see the world and your preferred way of interacting within it, then you have the power to alter that perception.
Myers-Briggs types are grounded in four pairs. Within each pair, people tend to lean towards one type or the other. Like the temperaments and doshas, people aren't all one or the other.
The four pairs are: extraversion and introversion; sensing and intuition; thinking and feeling; and judging and perceiving.
The pair that seem most important to me are extraversion and introversion. I am more introverted; meaning that time alone energizes me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like to be around people, it just means that I charge my battery by being alone. Extroverts put their time and attention into the outer world.
In the sensing and intuition pair, sensing people put more attention on the five senses and their physical world, whereas intuits pay more attention to the impressions and meaning of the information they receive.
In the next pair, thinkers prefer basic objective truth and value impersonal facts, whereas feelers take in all points of view and make decisions taking everyone’s feelings into account.
In the final pair, judging people appear settled and organized. They prefer to finish work before playing. Perceiving people appear more flexible and adaptable. They tend to be more open to new experiences and information.
What do I do with this?
I'll talk more in depth about the types next week, but what I find most useful is to not pigeon hole people, but appreciate how people are, especially if it's different than me. A sense of humour helps a lot, too!
Now it's your turn. Tell me in the comments below if you are familiar with any of the personality types, doshas or temperaments that I wrote about today. What do you identify most with? Is there another system that you like?
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