What’s Your Temperament #Reverb10 Beautifully Different

8 12 2010

8th in a month long series

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

I remember the book distinctly. I wish I could find it. I read it when I was 15 and it talked about the “four temperaments.”

This was before the Myers-Briggs thing REALLY hit big and before personality testing was used for everything from hiring to finding a babysitter.

This one focused on the ancient idea of the humors of the body: you were phlegmatic, melancholic, sanguine or choleric.
Guess which one I was?

Give up? Choleric, which Wikipedia describes as such:

A person who is choleric is a do-er. They have a lot of ambition, energy, and passion, and try to instill it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. They like to be leaders and in charge of everything.

Imagine reading THAT about yourself. Especially when you were not sure it was true. Especially when you didn’t WANT it to be true.

I was the ONLY choleric I knew. (I made my friends read the book and take the tests to find out what they were.) What made me beautiful then was that people took what I said to heart.

At fifteen, I was a leader and didn’t know. I was in EVERYTHING from chess club, to band, to church youth, you NAME it. Rarely was I the “named” leader. I did not run for stuff, I did not try to take a position of power in anything. 

YET, those that did were always close to me in some way. Often my friends, and if not, they eventually did. I was a social butterfly in middle and high school. I was just as likely to be friends to the “burnout smokers” who hung out behind the school as the football players as my fellow marching band participants.

Why? See that line hidden in there: CHOLERICS “try to instill [their ambition, energy, and passion] in others.”

I learned from that “moment” in my life- my words had meaning to the people in my life who respected me at all. All of my words- good, bad, and ugly.

I learned that I need to be CAREFUL with my words because unbeknownst to a fifteen year old and still at times when I forget, what I said could hurt- even if I wasn’t trying.

Thus I tried and still do to use what I say as usefully as possible. It’s a beautiful thing to inspire people (especially when you aren’t even trying), but the flip side of that coin is that the same ability can also tear people down without trying.

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