By Fr. Domingo Rodriguez Zambrana, ST
The spiritual life does not happen in a vacuum. It always depends on the attention each lends to his or her human development. That is why it is urgent to look at our own upbringing and maturity. The spiritual dimension of a person grows or becomes stagnant, according to one’s own self-knowledge. One of the least cared for aspects is that of character and temperament. Let us look at some details.
Temperaments: We realize that temperament is not a familiar or well known concept. It is not as common as speaking in a descriptive way about what a person is like. And yet, that is precisely what temperament is. It is defined as a “physiological state of an individual which conditions his or her psychological and physiological reactions.” It has to do with character, personality, the modality of feeling and thinking. In social sciences, the study of human behaviors is based on character analysis, personality, properly speaking, and temperament.
In a traditional manner, the analysis consisted in classifying people into four categories:
Choleric: A demanding, authoritarian, organized, dominant, rigid person, who takes control of the situation. He or she does not collaborate much, does not yield to the alternatives of others, is the owner of opinion, thinks he or she is right in everything, and is self-righteous, argumentative, and usually arrogant.
Sanguine: The opposite type to the choleric. Good moods, joyful, affable, kind, flexible, not as organized, this person enjoys being with others, does not easily get mad, is gregarious, not confrontational, evades conflict, is complacent, places harmony above everything else and has a pleasant personality.
Melancholic: The eternal sentimental, romantic, hypersensitive, easily wounded. They think with their heart, are faithful to friendships, reliable. They give themselves generously and are given to helping others. They are dramatic, slow to react; after the fact they reason about what they should have done; they are not confrontational, tend to cowardice and fear, comfort themselves with their own virtues.
Phlegmatic: The traditional absent minded, living in his or her own world, without malice, without passion, non energetic, never in a rush, capable of limitless toleration, creative, amicable, does not see the problem, perceptive, usually studious and brilliant.
None of these types exists by itself. Each one of us is a combination of the four prototypes, with one of them predominant or more evident. Character is forged through all experiences of growing up. Temperaments help to understand the reasons for the feelings, attitudes, postures and behaviors in an adult human relationship.
Enneagram just as any science, psychology has advanced to discover other methods of personal analysis. The enneagram is a system of analysis describing nine basic types of personality. The term enneagram derives from the Greek enneas, meaning nine. These nine personality types are formed by groups of persons who have common traits. They have a particular form, distinct from the other 8 types based on their perception of the world, themselves and how they face daily life.
The nine types are as follows:
Type 1. Perfectionist: This is the reformer, the visionary, the entrepreneur. He or she is very rational and disciplined, knows what he or she wants, seeks to be always in control, is the boss.
Type 2. The sentimental: He or she is the collaborator, tends to always help, needs to be needed, gives of himself, plans, is generous, cares for others, is demonstrative, relates well, is possessive, complacent, and reliable.
Type 3. The Efficient one: One who seeks status, the organizer, producer, and motivator, practical, impulsive. He seeks success, is outstanding, easily adapts, and is conscious of self-appearance.
Type 4. The artist: He is the arbiter of elegance, individualist, author, creator, romantic, knowledgeable, special, sensitive, dramatic, temperamental, self-absorbed, and distanced from others.
Type 5. The Thinker: Observer, philosopher, wise person, guru, researcher, intense, perceptive, given to secrecy, he isolates himself, is very learned, very rational.
Type 6. The faithful one: The one, who solves, is a collaborator, a hero, doubts, commits, is responsible, suspicious, and seeks security, anxious, reliable.
Type 7. The enthusiastic: Visionary, encourager, planning, optimist, generalist, entertainer, spontaneous, versatile, good humored.
Type 8. The Leader: Boss, mediator, the one who challenges, who seeks power, dominant, decisive, self-confident, confrontational.
Type 9. The pacifier: mediator, conciliator, kind, complacent, receptive, full of kindness and understanding.
Conclusion: The aim of the enneagram is not only to help us identify with the group to which we belong, but also, through it, to learn to work with and through our weaknesses and limitations in search of a real personal improvement will be able to appreciate this instrument for self-knowledge. Then spiritual life blooms more effectively. Then many deviations seen so often in the religious experience (much piety and little real practice) can be overcome.