Venerate four characters: the sanguine who has checked volatility and the rage for pleasure; the choleric who has subdued passion and pride; the phlegmatic emerged from indolence; and the melancholy who has dismissed avarice, suspicion and asperity. – Johann Kaspar Lavater, Aphorisms on Man, c. 1788, No. 609
There are many ways to categorize people and personality types. One of the more ancient, temperament theory, has its roots in the earlier and now discredited four humors theory or humorism. The four temperamental categories – sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic and melancholic – relate to personality traits and tendencies and while the question as to from whence these spring has not yet been answered, I imagine that most would agree that personality types do tend to follow along certain lines or patterns of mixture.
Rather than debate the accuracy of this particular theory, my intent in bringing this to light today is to point to Lavatar’s excellent suggestion that each personality type faces certain challenges. With each collection of strengths there tends to be a corresponding set of weaknesses, and worthy of note are those who manage to overcome their weaknesses without compromising their strengths. Such imbalances may be overcome internally, but they might also be usefully counterbalanced by your relationships with others, as long as they are not co-dependent.
Though I’ve long believed the old saying “What’s wrong with you is beside the point; what’s right with you is the starting point”, I’ve also found in my own experience that overcoming weaknesses in myself can be more gratifying than successfully employing my strengths. I love a good challenge, don’t you!?! We need not settle or resign ourselves to a flawed existence, in fact, when gaps, flat spots, immaturities and the like come to light, don’t throw your arms up or collapse in futility. Instead, say to yourself, “I have you in my sights…so, bring it on!”
The same goes for dealing with others. Rather than using weaknesses or tendencies you’ve observed as a reason to write the person off or conversely, to exploit his weakness, look instead to complement them with strengths of your own. If any one of us had the “whole package,” why then would there be so many people on earth?