On Temperament

On Temperament

I assume, based on the information gathered using my sense organs of sight and hearing, that like most people around – especially the youths, you must have read or, at least, have heard about the popular book titled: “Why you act the way you do”.

In the above-mentioned book, the author outlined the four major categories of human temperament namely: Sanguine, Phlegmatic, Melancholy and Choleric. The author also did a great job in giving an in-depth explanation of these temperaments and how they affect our general behaviours, how we view our world and people around us, how we respond to situations and so on.

The study of human temperament began in the early times. Wikipedia credits a Greek physician by the name Hippocrates (460-370 BC) for being the first person to describe temperament as a medical phenomenon.

Our temperaments are said to be connected to our behaviours and sense of humour.

An individual with the sanguine-type temperament is said to be lively, sociable, carefree, adventurous and optimistic. They are expected to be warm-hearted and show hospitality. They are also likely to the imaginative and changeable meaning they could struggle to keep up with instructions and are quite easy to distract.

Closely related is the choleric individual. He is excitable and extroverted. He is also egocentric and can be easily angered. He tries to instil his passion and energy in others making him appear bossy. He is strong-willed and consequently stubborn and likes to be in charge.

The melancholic person is an introvert. He is usually cautious and suspicious of events and people around. He finds it difficult to trust and is liable to moodiness and seclusion. He is, however, a focused person and is thorough. He wants to do things himself to meet his own personal acceptable standards.

Phlegmatic people are interested in private life. They are calm, patient and tolerant. They are habitually consistent and dependable making them faithful friends. They also are slow in speech and can be ponderous and clumsy.

Based on the available information on the descriptions of these temperament types, conclusions have been drawn regarding the fields and career choices that perfectly suit each of the categories. These assumptions, while intended for good purposes, have stood as roadblocks on the way to the top of many people. Believing that your kind of temperament is not suited for a field for which you have passion, you could be discouraged and end up giving up your dream for a less interesting career.

I, therefore, disagree that temperament is something we should even pay quality attention to. Upon reading about temperament, many people go about spending their useful time analysing and categorizing others into groups of temperament and base their expectations from and of such persons in the information they gathered from the temperament scale.

While the knowledge of one’s temperament could help encourage him by highlighting his inherent strengths and ultimately inform him of other things he could feel comfortable doing, it is meant only to supplement or complement one’s ability rather than to displace and replace an already laid foundation of hope.

Knowing your temperament should only make you feel good for learning something new and interesting about yourself. It should not be something that throws a spanner in all your works. It should be a compliment rather than a derisory comment undermines your plans and aspirations.

I have seen people do more than is expected of them. I have seen people go against the norm and succeed. Information and knowledge are good but not when they bring negative results and ideas.

Many people believe their temperament is inherent and they have absolutely no control over it. Someone says “I just can’t stop talking because it is my temperament” and I’m like “really?”. People look for excuse when they do wrong things and look for whom to cast the blame on. And what better excuse can one get than his inherent, and apparently uncontrollable temperament?

I chose to live life in a particular way. I chose this lifestyle. It was not forced on me. I made the conscious decision to live like this and every day I continue in this path I reinforce my belief and conviction that I am in control of my life. I am not a product of accident or circumstance, I am in charge of my moods and responses because I am response-able.

You could want to prove me wrong and try to point out that certain tribes and races have a certain kind of behaviour that are common to both the early men and is currently in play in our generation and will definitely dominate in future generations yet unborn. I am not here to deny that our environment has a great influence on who we are and what we could become. As suggested in the book Outliers, the society certainly plays a role in shaping us.

But in every gathering, there are some individuals who stand out and are different from others. These ones break the general law of conformity. They are the black sheep in the herd. They go against what is customary and choose to diverge from rather than converge with others.

As with animals that exhibit parental care, human parents are charged with guiding and directing their offspring, teaching and rebuking as deemed necessary. But on attaining certain age or level of maturity, the parents withdraw slightly or completely their contribution and effort towards the offspring in order to allow it fend for itself and make choices based on its personal and learned experiences.

At this point the offspring decides for itself what if feels is right. It becomes responsible for its actions and choices and will bear the consequences that are attached to those choices whether good or bad.

While we could rely on the excuse of environmental and societal influence, a time comes when we attain maturity and decide for ourselves what we want and will accept whatever results our actions bring. Though our temperaments are inherent, we have a choice to either submit as slaves or object and take control of our lives.

On temperament, I am of the opinion that we eventually are faced with the option of continuing or stopping. You have a choice make, be a subject or decide to object. Blend in or break out. But in the end, you have no one else to blame, but yourself.

One thought on “On Temperament” by Isaac Adewale Omole (@Isaacwalex)

  1. namdi (@namdi)

    Well written. I share same belief.

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