On http://www.dictionary.com, temperament is described as ‘ the combination of mental, physical and emotional traits of a person, natural predisposition’.
Our temperament heavily impacts on the way we react and relate to others. Unlike personality we are born with a particular temperament, it is ingrained in us. For example we each gravitate towards being an introvert or extrovert and it is likely we had this trait from a young age. If you quietly observe a group of young children, you should be able to identify their various temperaments. It cannot be hidden and seeps out of us.
Our temperament dictates the dynamics of our relationships with nuclear and extended family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and complete strangers.
Whilst we cannot change our temperament we can become self-aware and endeavour to understand ourselves. The more we understand what we do and why we do it, the more we can find ‘our place’.
I believe the struggle and challenge many of us face is we lack understanding of themselves. This could be due to ignorance or naivety. It can prove difficult to accept and acknowledge our traits particularly when they present as negative. The majority of us want to be at our best and be perceived as so, therefore a word of advice or constructive criticism does not particularly go down well with our egos.
As a child I was quiet, inquisitive and rather cheeky. I had a lot of energy but was often found in books. Though I was easily excited there was definitely a calmness. As a teenager I was an extreme introvert, only having one or two friends at any one time. I steered clear of crowds/groups and much preferred the dynamics of one to one conversations. I disliked having this trait and questioned why I was not more outgoing and fun. I definitely felt invisible and overlooked throughout my teenage years and I despised my trait as oppose to embracing it.
25 years later, I understand myself far more and I embrace who I am. At my place of work, I like to spend lunchtimes alone to reflect and enjoy just being with me – no obligation to speak or listen. It probably presents as strange but it is freeing to be who you are whether it fits well with others or not. Taking time out means when I am around others I am more tolerant and present.
To end I recall Joyce Meyer, the evangelist describing a situation where her children complained about her spending time in the bathroom. She mentions in a number of her books that she would often shut herself in the bathroom to pray, read and think. She responded back “You should be thankful I shut myself away as I am a better mother for it!”
How would you describe your temperament?
At what point did you embrace this?