I am not, but I close my eyes and for a minute I am transformed. I am intelligent, quick-witted, driven, determined. I see an obstacle in my way and immediately my mind and will lock into high-gear, and I plow through whatever had been obstructing my progress. It’s the end of the day, and the list of tasks I accomplished that day is far longer than what I had gotten done in a month as regular me. I am not discouraged. I am energized—or angry, given the day—and I go to bed looking forward to conquer tomorrow. Wow.
I open my eyes, and I am not a choleric. I am melancholic me again, prone to discouragement and pessimism. But I have so much admiration for the choleric. In fact, I even married one. And today’s post is dedicated to highlighting the great strengths of my choleric friends, a few of their weakness, and some special considerations when raising one, all which comes from my most beloved book The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennett. Listed below are simply a few tidbits from a most extraordinary book, which I strongly recommend to anyone looking to further her study in the field.
The mighty choleric: “Whether at home or on the job, the choleric will take charge and get many things accomplished in a short time. The choleric reacts quickly and intensely; decisiveness is his hallmark. In addition, he is extraverted and self-confident, comfortable taking charge of people as well as situations. Opposition is never a stumbling block, but rather, a further incentive to action. Dynamic and direct, the choleric has a keen mind and thinks independently. He will always let you know what he’s thinking” (p. 30).
My husband’s temperament was on shining display this weekend, as he deftly arranged for a team of family and friends to help landscape our yard. As I stood back, shocked at what was unfolding, my husband quickly organized the group to plant ten—the original plan was three—trees in our backyard, and then tore up the entire front of our yard, removing old bushes and shrubs that were on their last legs. I ended up simply watching the flurry of activity, lost in amazement. My husband in a few hours had transformed our average-looking yard into something spectacular. And it would’ve taken me that same amount of time just to decide who to call to help me in the first place!
St. Paul, St. Therese, and St. James (a “Son of Thunder”) were all cholerics, who “can be great saints…or great sinners” (230). If you are a choleric, thank God for your numerous gifts and drive to utilize them, but be on the lookout against willfulness, seeking to control others, anger, haughtiness, or superiority (231). The Bennetts recommend frequent reception of the sacraments, especially Holy Communion and Confession, and fostering a deep prayer life, without which “you risk blind activism, the egotism of individualism, or an apostolate founded on pride and vanity rather than on the pure love of Jesus Christ” (232).
Now, should you, as we did, find yourself blessed by the arrival of a tiny bundle of energy and agendas, the Bennetts have some excellent advice on how to raise the choleric child:
Compassion, meekness, and forgiveness are key virtues to teach your choleric child. Cholerics are natural leaders, but they need your help in learning the subtleties of interpersonal relationships. They need to learn to let other, more thoughtful children have a chance to speak. They need to learn not to interrupt or always to speak for everyone else...help your choleric child to appreciate the mystery and depth of other people—and himself...
If you are becoming frustrated with a strong-willed choleric child, it is sometimes helpful to remind yourself not to get caught up in secondary power struggles; whether the child is not doing what you want. Ultimately the goal is not to attain what you want, but to enable our children to do what God wants” (109-110).
So, if you are a choleric, thank God for your mighty temperament, and set to work doing lots of good for Him. If you’re not, stay tuned in the following weeks when we cover the remaining three temperaments.