…or is that “temperament”?
Heh, I just looked it up and wikipedia says: “Temperament is defined as that part of the personality which is genetically based. Along with character, and those aspects acquired through learning, the two together are said to constitute personality.”
So for this post, I actually mean both! 🙂
I just started reading the book The Temperament God Gave You. I’m only on page 24, but I have read enough about temperament/personality types, etc, to be able to post what I’m about to say. (By the way, the book is good so far.)
In taking various personality tests over the years, such as the Myers-Briggs, I have always wondered why I appear to be “in the middle” of all the available types, in kind of an amorphous way – I feel like I could be one type one day and another type another day (introversion/extroversion aside – I feel like I am always an introvert). The new book I’m reading posed a question: “Do I make decisions based primarily on logical principles, or relationships?” Their thoughts leading up to this question made me realize something — I think I was BORN one way, and was necessarily *changed* into something totally different by the adoption into my particular family.
Maybe this isn’t possible… but my parents (mostly my dad, but then by proxy my mom) were *extremely* perfectionistic, my dad to the point of being OCD about it. Most of what I remember about being at home as a child were my Dad straightening up behind me (i.e. I closed the curtains and he was a step behind me “fixing” them, even though I did it *just fine* the first time) and me needing to be very quiet all the time because my dad often worked at home. My dad liked (needed?) things a certain way, so my mom went along with it all (as I guess she should have) and I was not allowed to do much around the house to help because it just wouldn’t have been “good enough”.
I say all that not to evoke pity but to explain my next thought- being adopted, and the whole fear of abandonment, can lead people to become people pleasers. Due to the fanatical nature of my household, I had to become a people pleaser “to the extreme” — something that I think has held on to this day and translates into strained relationships in my own home, and a general sense of anxiety in me (I may post on that in a minute).
So how does this relate to temperament/personality? I think *maybe* I was born more of a thinker than a feeler, more of a logical prinicple person than a “worry about relationships” person. So that now, every time I need to “react” to something, one half of me is logical and thinks about what I perceive to be the truth of the world and how it works, and the OTHER half is frantically going “but NO NO NO, that will UPSET everyone, oh nooooo, what do I doooooo????” LOL One can necessarily see that that can cause problems in parenting and running an active household! I feel constantly *caught* between the rock (truth/logic) and the hard place (pleasing others). It’s even harder when one decision never pleases all people (we have wildly different personalities running around here). But that sense of needing to please others, just to *survive*, can be so strong! And then throw in the whole “you should think of others first and totally die to self” of Catholocism and I’m totally confused! Am I “people pleasing” or “dying to self”? And where does logic/truth fit into it all??
As usual, I don’t know what this means for me and how I should deal with it. I just came up with it a few minutes ago, lol. It explains a lot, though. It’s not all bad – in fact I think it helps me understand many types of people, and thus be more forgiving and less judgemental.
(first published Aug 2007)