Monday, 2 February 2015

A Melancholic Searches for Joy

Have you heard of the four temperaments?

You all know how much I love analyzing personality types, right? Well, I''m moving past Myers-Brigg to a new one.
Four temperaments is a proto-psychological theory that suggests that there are four fundamental personality types, sanguine (optimistic leader-like), choleric (bad-tempered or irritable), melancholic (analytical and quiet), and phlegmatic (relaxed and peaceful).(wikipedia)

I had read about it a month ago after one of my mentors talked about different temperaments on a team could affect the dynamics, and how we needed to use the gifts of each while recognizing their weaknesses. But of course I find this all fascinating because it gave me an insight into my OWN  temperament. A friend of mine sent me a few pages from the book 'The Temperament God Gave You'. She and I both identify as 'melancholics'.

Disclaimer: Identifying with one temperament doesn't mean it completely describes you, nor does it mean you don't have traits from the other temperaments too. But it does mean it may be your dominant temperament or attitude or way you approach life. On one test, my dominant temperament was melancholic, and the lesser one was choleric.

In a nutshell, according to one website:

Melancholic people are emotionally sensitive, perfectionistic introverts.
Choleric people are the proud, extroverted 'alphas' of our species.
Phlegmatic people are meek, submissive introverts who live to please others.
Sanguine people are boisterous, bubbly, chatty, openly emotional, social extroverts.

So many ways to describe the different types:

Anyway, when I was reading the pages my friend sent me, I saw this:

Only through an intimate relationship with Christ will the melancholic learn to temper his overly critical expectations of other people- such trust should be placed in God alone- and to overcome his natural tendency to sadness.

A natural tendency to sadness!

You know Grumpy Cat?

A distant relative of mine.

I inherit my grumpiness and pessimism from both sides of my family. Our faces in repose are grumpy. I wouldn't be shocked to hear the words 'gloomy' and 'moody' used to describe me or many members of my family. (Not all, some are shockingly cheerful and optimistic.)

Poor melancholics! Poor me! Wait, another excerpt- Because of their introversion and their tendency to pessimism , melancholics can become excessively self-absorbed. They need to... fight against the temptation to self-pity. Self-pity is a trap that can keep the melancholic in a myopic, unproductive lifestyle.

Teachers and parents (and loving roommates) can help their melancholic students and children by encouraging them to exercise regularly and to eat well and to learn to develop confidence, optimism, and enthusiasm.

Melancholics procrastinate.


A melancholic's analytic tendency to uncover all potential problems and obstacles can inhibit action. He envisions all the potential disasters and thinks to himself , "This can never be done,"or "This project is doomed." or some other gloomy thought. Not only will he face all the potential obstacles, worst-case scenarios, and disasters possible for the project, but he will begin to envision all future projects to be accomplished by close friends and family members (as well as the depressing state of world politics and the cultural climate of licentiousness). Thus the web of disaster and despair spreads.  

They're talking about ME! Every time I approach a task, I think I'm dealing with LIFE and THE WORLD AND ALL ITS PROBLEMS AND EVERYTHING IS GOING TO CRASH AND BURN BECAUSE I'M NOT DOING IT ALL PERFECTLY!!!!

Anyway to fight the temptations of my temperament, here are some things that help:

1. Get enough sleep: If I don't, my mind is like a negative spiral of doom, and if anyone tries to gently tell me that maybe everything DOESN'T suck, I can PROVE it to them using calm, clear, deadly, precise logic. Being rested does wonders for a positive outlook on life. Take naps when necessary, and possible.

2. Exercise: Okay to be honest, this is one method I'm juuust beginning to use. But everyone has convinced me that ENDORPHINS ARE THE KEY TO EVERYTHING. Well, not everything, but apparently they help with depression and moods. But getting down to exercise seems to be the problem. From the book- For some reason, melancholics tend to be less physically vigorous than other other temperaments.

3. Eat regularly: Seems obvious, but not in the moment.

4. Do not marry or live with another melancholic: Well I haven't been married to anyone at all, but I know that when I was living with another melancholic, we pulled each other down with our negativity, pessimism and procrastination. I need someone to remind me to eat, sleep and that the world isn't going down in flames.

These are the kind of people I need

5. Ask oneself 'What's the worst that could happen?': When I allow my logic to proceed calmly, and I face my worst fears, I realize that I actually do NOT have control over most things, and that God does. I'm called to faithfulness, not success. If I take my faith seriously, I realize that even death is not the end of all things.

6. Read 'Searching For and Maintaining Peace': I know, I know, I keep recommending this book. But really, read it!

7. Notice when I'm on a negative downward spiral: (Especially PMS days, ohmygosh the craziness inside my head) And tell myself 'Maybe I don't need to solve the world's problems in my head right now.' Choose to notice and comment on the many good things happening in the world and in my life.

8. Give myself small achievable goals: And write them on an easily accessible to do list!

9. Acknowledge that this is my struggle: And give myself a break.

Do you identify strongly with any of the four temperaments?


  1. I think I was more melancholic when I was younger, but knowing Christ has made me less perfectionistic. And I live with a sunny optimist, my husband. :)

  2. Have you read about social styles?

    It's similar to this but different. Even though we have our own social styles, the trick to being successful is to learn how to "Flex". Flexing is the ability to change your personality/social style to better suit the person or activity that you are engaging. The more you practice flexing the easier it becomes, although it always requires effort to do.

  3. A good slide-share:

  4. I am totally melancholic and it's funny you mentioned the book "Searching for and maintaining Peace" because I just purchased it. My goal for Lent is to stop being so perfectionistic and self-critical.

    1. I think every melancholic should read it!

  5. well well... would like to know where i can find these test... interesting though... tried a few on the internet and the score so far is - Sanguine (02)! Choleric (01)!
    The site i trust (so does my org ( says i'm a Guardian! Is there a rock solid test that i give and still give me a rock solid result? I'm confused right now because every time i take a test it gives me something else. Its either that my mind is inconsistent or the tests are and i can bet it o the test being unreliable. so... having said that please please send me a link where i can check my temperament out...

  6. i am doing this so that i can get the revert on an email and on my device :)

  7. Sue i found this on
    Four temperaments is a proto-psychological theory that suggests that there are four fundamental personality types, sanguine (optimistic and social), choleric (short-tempered or irritable), melancholic (analytical and quiet), and phlegmatic (relaxed and peaceful). Most formulations include the possibility of mixtures of the types.

    The Greek physician Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BC) incorporated the four temperaments into his medical theories as part of the ancient medical concept of humorism, that four bodily fluids affect human personality traits and behaviors.
    """""""""""""""""Later discoveries in biochemistry have led modern medicine science to reject the theory of the four temperaments, although some personality type systems of varying scientific acceptance continue to use four or more categories of a similar nature."""""""""""""""""

    So in essence "Myers Briggs" personality tests can still be trusted and is the most scientific way for assessments. Having said that INTJ stands forever till something else replaces it! Phew! And even after googling 'Four Temperaments' if i dont get valid results and if all the results that i get are not trustworthy and unreliable, then it is safe to assume that 'Four Temperaments'have been replaced by more accurate and efficient test algorithms in our case its Myer-Briggs personality test - INTJ's!

  8. So your assessment of yourself as melancholy might be a tad bit doubtful - with INTJ being more accurate. I rest my case here :)

  9. Replies
    1. I think the different types of personality tests are focussing on different aspects of personalities. So it doesn't have to be an either-or. I can be INTJ AND melancholic. A friend recommends the book 'The Temperament God Gave You'. (It probably isn't based on bodily fluids though!)

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  11. Its INTJ and Choleric for me! Humph! The test was easy but the scoring was tough!

    Quick to react, intense reaction of long duration; leader; initiator;
    logical; pragmatic, person of action, forthright; pushes plans
    through; doesn’t display emotions easily, except anger; not given
    to anxiety; impetuous; eager to express himself; loves debate; can be
    defensive and prideful; persevering; self-confident; self-reliant; not
    a follower; driven to achieve goals; private; inclined to retaliation;
    extraverted; take-charge; argumentative; abhors sentimentality;
    logical; goal-oriented; decisive; intense; quick-tempered; optimistic;
    interruptive; needs acknowledgment; wants to be right; a doer;
    headstrong; competitive; looks for the positive; impatient; productive;
    makes decisions based on principles/ideas.)