We all know about the “melancholy blues”, those times where we find ourselves despondent, have no get up and go, and see nothing but black clouds overhead. We just want to go back to bed and start the day over, tomorrow. These are normal feelings and fortunately for most people last a day or two, come infrequently, and have no long lasting effect on our bodies, spirit, or soul. For some people though, this appears to be a way of life; endless days of gloom, hopelessness, different than everyone else, and angry. At times they can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but to often believe it is another train ready to hit them head on.
Everyday I listen to people who believe this life is destined for them, that it is normal, because it has always been this way. Most of these people are Melancholy in at least one area of their temperament. They are the embodiment of Hosea 4:6 which says “My people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.” Sadly, because they and significant others in their life do not understand who God created them to be, they are most likely to commit drug/alcohol abuse, attempt suicide, sexual abuse (second generation), and are only second to the Choleric in committing physical and verbal abuse.
Temperament is the inborn part of man, placed in him at conception by God, which determines how we react to the people, places and things. In short, it is how we interact with our environment and the world around us. Temperament pinpoints our perception of ourselves and the people who love us. It is the determining factor in how well we react to the stress and pressures of life. The temperament needs (to varying degrees) are to associate with people, to control and be controlled, and to receive and give love and affection. When any of these needs are not being met or are being met in an ungodly manner this causes internal stress and intra- and/or interpersonal conflicts.
Our character development is influenced by interaction of the temperament and the environment, which includes but is not limited to parents, siblings, extended family members, media, teachers, school, church, entertainment, recreational activities and much more. The temperament is what will determine how we react to these influences and whether or not we become people of strong moral character.
There are at least thirteen characteristics of the Melancholy temperament that we can identify (surprising not unlike Adult Child characteristics). Each characteristic contains strengths and weaknesses of the temperament. For example, the characteristic of being task oriented is that the Melancholy has the ability to do complicated work well, can follow directions and work alone. A weakness of this temperament characteristic is that relationships will be avoided and kept to a minimum, because there is very little understanding of people and how to associate with others.
Melancholies are strong-willed, task oriented, perfectionist, sensitive, introverted, have low self-worth, and extremely loyal. They are the most gifted of the five temperaments, self- sacrificing and self-disciplined. The great artists, writers, poets, musicians, teachers, and other creative individuals were more than likely Melancholies. Melancholies are also highly independent, accept very little control in their lives from others and have high intellectual capabilities.
Research over the years has shown that children, who have “good” self-worth have grown up in a home that has parental warmth, clearly defined limits and is treated respectfully. A Melancholy child planted in a nurturing environment will grow and blossom, being able to utilize all the gifts and abilities that God has blessed this temperament with. But for the Melancholy child living in a less than nurturing environment due to addiction, divorce and or mental, physical, emotional or behavioral problems of significant others, life will be different.
Melancholies either excel in a positive manner or a negative one; there is no such thing as a mediocre Melancholy. Although the Melancholy is by far the most gifted in temperament characteristics, they are also the most susceptible to physical, spiritual and emotional abuse during childhood. Melancholies that grow up in less than nurturing homes and environments are at a higher risk than any other temperament to have problems with addiction/substance abuse, spiritual and emotional stability, self destructive behavior, and recurring physical illnesses. They have issues with rejection, anger and low self-worth.
As teenagers and adults they may guess at what normal family life is, have difficulty following through on tasks, lie when it would be as easy to tell the truth, judge themselves and others without mercy, have difficulty having fun, resent authority, and have difficulty resolving conflict.. They take life very seriously, have difficulty in relationships, overact to changes, constantly seek approval and affirmation, feel different than others, are extremely loyal even when undeserved, and lock into a course of action that is often destructive to self and others. These behaviors are the result of sinking to the weaknesses of the temperament characteristics to meet needs.
Regardless of our temperament type, when we have an understanding of our temperament characteristics and temperament needs we can improve our relationship with God, family members and others. We come to understand why we and significant others do the things that we do and how to meet needs in a Godly manner. Not under-standing the dynamics of temperament and its affect on relationships has lead to countless conflicts in the family, the church, school and the work place.