Several years back, a friend suggested I read “The Temperament God Gave You” by Art and Laraine Bennet in response to some problems and questions I was having. I asked her if I could borrow her copy, but she said that it was such a helpful read that I really needed to buy my own. Besides, she was still dog-earing her copy.
So, being a trusting friend, I got the book and and learned that I am a Phlegmatic Melancholic. (Say that five times fast, right?) But, before I get too far, let me explain what one's temperament is and what one's personality is. “Temperament is not the same as personality. Personality refers to the whole of an individual's patterns of behavior, thoughts, and emotions. In this book, we are considering temperament only which is but one aspect of an individual's total personality—the aspect related to behavior and reaction.” (Bennet, pg. 5) In my mind, you could make a pie chart (since we are close to Thanksgiving, it's gotta be a pumpkin one) and label it Personality. Then, you would have different pieces. Temperament would be the label on two of the slices, named Behavior and Reaction. So, how you behave and react.
Now, once you find out your temperament, does this mean you can behave poorly because it is 'how you were made?' No. The purpose of knowing this is so that you can know where you may stumble and work with it. Or, for that matter, where you may shine. For instance, I know that I need time to make a decision. So, if possible, I wait several hours or until the morning to respond to an request. When the kids ask me for something, I have learned to say “Let me think about that just a moment.” This reduces my stress and helps me give a more honest and possibly correct answer. The book explains why we need to learn about temperament: “Rather, we want to understand others better, improve our relationships, enlarge our capacity for love, and become more effective in pursuing our goals.” (Bennet, pg. 11) Knowing your temperament can overall, help you love yourself and others better.
For all you history buffs, this temperament business goes way back to Hippocrates. Here are the four different types with my own personal positive nutshell description:
Which one(s) do you think you are? It's good we are all different and can complement each other.
But, wait, there's much more. Many people also have a secondary trait. I learned, as I have previously stated, that I tend towards being a Phlegmatic Melancholic (see pg. 210). What I take from this is:
Figuring out the temperaments of people you daily relate to can also teach you how to motivate yourself and them better since not everyone responds the same to pressure. This is partially why I had to find this book again—to figure out how to help my son stay motivated to pass his timed math tests at school. So, sorry, I'm using it and you'll have to get your own copy!
To take a test to learn your temperament, visit:
My pilot husband doesn't care much for personality tests. He thinks they put people in boxes too much and I think he doesn't like living under some stereotype. In some ways, he's right. All people are unique because of our different experiences, temperaments, birth order, beliefs, and personality.
I guess one way my pilot and I are different is that learning my personality has been key in my life. It all started when my youngest was about three and I began thinking about what life would be like after she was in kindergarten. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, and although I knew mothering would continue once they were all in school, the prospect of free time to myself was exciting and yet...daunting.
So, several books and studies came into my life. I checked out Do What You Are from the library, which is about careers and personalities. After taking the test and reading descriptions of jobs, the most interesting thing on the list to me was writing, but I still wasn't sure. Our church was having a study on personalities and the Christian faith. I wrestled with the short written multiple choice test, still unsure of what I was. It wasn't until I devoured a book called Motherstyles and took the test therein that I really felt that I KNEW that I was an INFJ. This book helped me the most because I had been doing full time mothering for seven years at that point, so I could easily answer the questions.
INFJ stands for:
Introvert—I get re-engergized by being alone. This does not mean that I'm shy, just I need some space away sometimes. Self care: Take a nap. Stare out the window for awhile.
INtuitive—I like to have the big picture and to be creative and to think outside the box, asking why questions. I am also idealistic and set high goals. Self care: Learn something new. Write or journal.
Feeling--Keeping relationships in harmony is very important to me. After I'm alone for awhile, I need to communicate with someone again and see how they're doing or feeling. Self care: Take a break from people who need you. Find out what things you really enjoy doing and do one of them.
Judging—I like to have a plan and a schedule. Self care: Have some area (even a drawer) that you are in charge of. Keep it organized just like you like.
In many ways, being an INFJ is like walking on a balance beam. You need to be alone—but you need to be with people, too. You like to live on a whim and go with the flow of your creativity, but you also must have structure.
Since INFJ's are one of the rare types, I've found that how I view and do life is different from many others. But, finding this out has helped me better accept myself and use my strengths, and work on my weaknesses.
Thankfully, even though my husband doesn't like personality tests, he still likes me—well, almost all of the time.
Do you know your type? Click here to take a free test: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp
"Do More of What Makes You Happy"--this was a sign my husband bought for me for Christmas this past year (with a little encouragement from me). I now have it hanging where I can see it every day.
Why do I need this reminder? I admit that this sign is not for everyone, and could seem selfish. However, as I am learning more about myself, I am seeing more and more how the rest of my family and rest of my life is better if I take care of myself. And, taking care of myself means saying 'no' to things that sap all my energy and make me 'less happy'.
As a Christian, this means I give glory to God in the ways He created me.
As an INFJ, this means I try to take time for myself each day, give myself chances to dream and imagine, find out what my own needs and feelings are, and order my life in such a way that it is not total chaos.
As a phlegmatic melancholic, this means that I need to learn to say 'no' and to set limits and but that I also enjoy working with lots of different types of people.
As a pilot's wife, this means that I have someone else watch the kids for a couple hours when he's gone on a four day trip so I can have some time to breathe and do what I want to do.
As a mother, this means that we don't do a lot of other 'busy' things that other families do.
So, if you are like me in any way, I hope to encourage you to be the best you and to "Do More of What Makes YOU Happy!"
"If Mama's not happy, no one's happy!" What Brings You Happiness is a blog designed to encourage you to take better care of yourself so you can take better care of others. Click on the categories below to find how I've dealt with various situations in light of who I am.