St. Augustine’s prayer says, “Lord, let me know myself.” It is a simple prayer, asking for the knowledge necessary for spiritual growth. If we know ourselves, our faults can be more easily combated, our appetites more controlled, our weaknesses turned to strengths.
The temperaments are an ancient means of attaining this knowledge. Although many disregard the temperaments in light of modern psychology, they actually offer us profound insights about human nature and our own dispositions.
We all have an intuitive awareness that there are different "types" of people. These basic dispositions, or manners of thinking, behaving, and reacting, are called "temperaments" -- a word whose etymology reflects humorist theory: it derives from the Latin temperamentum, which refers to "proper mixture."
Humorism asserts that each person is born with a basic temperament as determined by which of the four humors tends to predominate in the individual. As we all produce each humor, there will be varying degrees of influence by each, but the effects of one is usually more evident.
What follows is a very basic outline of the characteristics of each temperament as classically described. For more explicit information, you'll have to take the inventory here:
The Four Temperaments Inventory
The Temperament God Gave your Kids: Motivate, Discipline, and Love Your Children
Submit your Results (Password Required)
Self-composed, Not given to worry, Liberal, Tends to follow rather than lead, Cordial, Peaceable, Talkative, Not averse to change, Adjusts easily, Tends to prefer informality, Aware of surroundings, Impetuous, Impulsive, Lacking in perseverance, Lacking in initiative, Prone to carelessness, hedonism, flightiness, and lust
Self-composed, Not given to worry, Persuasive, Independent, Rarely shows embarrassment, Tends to lead rather than follow, Persistent, Insistent, Decisive, Dynamic, Impetuous, Impulsive, Touchy, Prone to hypocrisy, deceit, pride, and anger
Sensitive, Intuitive, Self-conscious, Easily embarrassed, Easily hurt, Introspective, Sentimental, Moody, Likes to be alone, Empathetic, Often artistic, Often fussy and perfectionist, Deep , Prone to depression, avarice, and gluttony
Peaceful, Easy-going, Deliberative, Faithful, Reliable, Relatively unaffected by environment, Reserved, Distant, Slow in movement, Constant in mood, Not prone to worry, Prone to stagnation and sloth
The following resources will be helpful in understanding your temperament on a deeper level.
Fish Eaters: The Four Temperaments
The Temperament God Gave You
The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse