Getting To Know Ourselves And Others Better; The Four Temperaments

For the past few months I have been really wanting to get to know myself and others better. I have been drawn to many things since being open to this and decided that all of this knowledge should really be shared. Blog post ideas have been spinning through my head and when I have the time to write a little bit about anything, I take advantage of it.

I really began researching a lot more about the four temperaments this past spring. This is something that Rudolf Steiner (the founder of Waldorf education) considered a major part in education. Not only the temperament of the child, but the temperament of the teacher (or parent) as well. It was interesting to me to find out what temperament I am and what the temperaments of those around me are, my family and my friends. It really helps to get to understand people better and not take other people’s moods or differences in personality so personally. Instead of judging people or yourself for certain things, once you understand that it is just a part of their/your temperament and who they/you are, it is easy to step back and refrain from judgement, not get so upset or take things personally.

I think often times we want people to be like us, and/or we don’t understand the differences in the ways we think, act or behave. Temperament really helped me to understand who I am a little better and why I am different from some people and similar to others. How some people really seem to “get” me and some do not at all. We are all different and there are many different things to consider when we look at each human being as an individual, with their specific astrology,  numerology, temperament, etc. I decided to create a series of posts on getting to know ourselves and others better and I hope that this knowledge will help you find more inner peace about yourself, others and life.

In this post, I wanted to share about temperament.

Steiner says that we are all really a mix of two of the four temperaments, although we posses all of the temperaments in our being. Most common mixes are Phlegmatic/Sanguine and Choleric/Melancholic. There is however one predominate temperament that characterizes us, even though we are a mix of all the temperaments and two of them are most dominate in our lifetime.

For myself, after much research and taking a few quizzes here and there, I have come to conclude that I am predominately Sanguine, with Melancholic being my second temperament. My mother is Melancholic and my dad is Sanguine, so it makes sense, even though it is not at all a common mix. It also makes sense to me and to people who are really close to me, like my husband or maybe even those of you who read my blog, because sometimes I am so outgoing and energetic and sometimes I feel deeply saddened and more closed off. It is almost like I am two personalities, but that is just the way I am. Even when I was a baby, my mom used to say when I was good, I was really good and when I would get upset, I would get really upset, always extreme in my personality. I think I have come a long way in balancing myself over the years through self-education and reflection, meditation, yoga and really researching into things like numerology, astrology and temperament to expand my consciousness.

Here is some more information on each of the four temperaments.

SANGUINE – People of a sanguine temperament are outgoing, optimistic, friendly and make friends easily. They are easy-going, expressive, emotional, energetic and extreme. They are talkative, open and productive, but lack discipline and usually have many things going on at once, which makes them unorganized and it is difficult for someone of a sanguine temperament to see projects through to completion. They live in the moment, love to connect with people and find social interaction invigorating, though they still need time to themselves. They have an open sense of humor and are light-hearted. They like to be liked,  need the approval of others, are attention-seeking and can come off to others as a show off. They are motivational and encouraging and love to help people see the bright side of life. They smile and laugh often and are quick to forgive and forget. They need constant entertainment and new projects or they are not happy. When people connect with a sanguine person, they feel like they have known them all of their life. They talk more than they listen. They are often unreliable because there is so much going on in their minds and they live such disorganized and distracted lives.

This is totally me. I so live in the moment, my mind is often forgetful and my environment is never really in order for long. I love to share and connect with people, but I need my time alone (usually going for a walk or doing yoga is my “me time”). I love to be positive. I am friendly and encouraging. I am very open with my thoughts and feelings and very quick to forgive. I lack discipline, but have been working hard at this one, seeing projects and ideas through to completion (I wrote a cookbook and I try to discipline my focus by reading to the girls and reading things myself, which is hard for me sometimes). I admit that I can be unreliable. And I do like attention. 🙂

MELANCHOLIC – Melancholics are contemplative and perfectionistic. If they cannot do things perfectly, they get easily upset or depressed. They make unrealistic goals and set extremely high standards for themselves, which they often cannot reach and thus, spiral into a depressed state. They are critical of themselves and others. Good enough is never good enough and they have a hard time accepting compliments of any kind because they judge themselves as not worthy of praise due to their perfectionism. The world seems  imperfect to them and they want it to be perfect. They are pessimistic and assume the worst. They are neurotic worriers and prefer to be alone than to be in a crowd. They get their energy from their contemplation and isolation. They are stubborn, do not easily shift from their ways of thinking, and are very set in their ways. They really take the time to think before they act and are not at all impulsive. They see a job through to completion and make sure that they do their best job, even though in the end, their best could still have been better. They argue logically and really do want to set wrongs right. They do not assert their opinions because they want to be right and dominate another, but they really have a heart for others and want to help them however they can. They complain a lot about everything, blame themselves, crave time alone and prefer a few close friends to many different ones. They share openly within their circle of chosen friends, but not with all the world. Because they love to be alone, they come off as selfish and unsocial. They are possessive of their things and have a hard time sharing what is theirs. They are moody, emotional, thin-skinned and sensitive. The slightest comment can send them into a spiral of depression and self-pity because they take everything to heart and once they are in it, they spend a long time there and have a hard time seeing anything positive. Because they are sensitive and so in tune with their thoughts and feelings, they also have a big heart for others, especially others who are going through struggles in life. They can truly feel others pain and really want to help others heal.

We all feel melancholic from time to time and I am sure we all have (or have known) at least one melancholic person in our life, whether it is a family member or a friend. These people can be hard to deal with, especially if you are sensitive to the energies of others, as I am. For me this is my mother and the mothering influence that I grew up with, but I love her dearly and even more dearly now that I am older and realize that we are not of the same temperament and have researched the temperaments better. Know that melancholics really do have big hearts and allow them a shoulder to cry on once in a while when you feel like you can be of service, but also if you are sensitive, remember to protect yourself from the negativity of others when you feel you need to set up boundaries.

PHLEGMATIC – Phlegmatics love to please others. They are peace makers, always quiet, love time alone and are introverted. They are terrified of conflict and so they take the path of least resistance whenever possible. They will say and do things for others just to keep the peace and are not at all confident or confrontational. People of other temperaments often judge phlegmatics as unfeeling because they are so quiet, passive, unassertive and like to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves. People of other temperaments can even think of phlegmatics as doormats because they are the “nice guys and girls” in life who put others before themselves as often as they can. If in an argument they get distressed and seek to do anything to escape any form of conflict. They give into others just so that they do not have to feel any negative emotions or deal with any negativity. All they wish for in life is peace. They are quick to apologize and cannot say no to others. They will go along with others plans, even if they do not really want to. They will always take the blame, are natural followers, prefer to be told what to do and find making any decisions to be way too much pressure on them. When an obstacle comes in their way, they get uneasy and do not know what to do. They are kind, calm, dependable and loyal. Belittling or hurting another is not at all in their nature and they take care to always be extra cautious never to hurt another (mostly due to the fact that this could cause a conflict, which is terrifying to them). They are great listeners and would rarely ever pass on information to others. They can come off as cold, lazy and rude to others who do not understand them because they like to keep their emotions inside and prefer to not express any of their emotions.

My husband is definitely predominantly phlegmatic but is a mix of both the phlegmatic and melancholic temperaments. He goes along with anything in life and never complains about a thing. I can talk to him about anything and he is definitely kind, dependable and loyal. He is always careful to create a peaceful home life for our family and likes to live an introverted existence. It is nice to be with him considering my temperament mix, but can be frustrating too, as I always have to make the decisions and I feel like even after all of our years together he is still hard to know and doesn’t like to talk and share like I do in my sanguine self. Now that we understand our temperament differences, we really have come to understand each other so much better. Reading both the Sanguine and the Phlegmatic characteristics seemed so spot on for us both!

CHOLERIC – Choleric people are extroverted, proud and not afraid to speak their mind! They are loud, active, dominating and over-bearing. They are extremely opinionated and boastful and not afraid to show it. They often meddle in others’ affairs because they really do believe that they know best and are extremely blunt. To a person of choleric temperament, conflict is seen as a way to assert their superiority and prove themselves. They are quick-thinking, strong-willed, love to prove themselves and are easily annoyed. They are very independent and self-reliant and think that they know what is best for everybody. They use commands when speaking to others, instead of asking for what they want and are very easily angered due to their hot temper. They hold a sense of entitlement and use language such as ‘deal with it’, ‘get over yourself’, or ‘stop being such a wimp’, or may start sentences with “look”, or “listen”. Cholerics are firm and forceful and are givers of tough love, expecting others to “suck it up”. They love to challenge others and are very aggressive and confrontational. They are lovers of competition, but hate to ever lose. They take pleasure in others pain, misfortune or humiliation because they love the feeling of superiority and dominance. They blame others for their mistakes and will have no problem telling a lie if it means saving themselves. At all costs, they refuse being dominated by or inferior to anyone else. They are dogmatic and are not open-minded, given to fantasy or imagination. They demand respect and hold grudges against anyone who challenges them. Those that do are automatic rivals. It is impossible for a choleric person to admit their flaws because they really and truly believe that they are right about everything and this makes them demand respect. They can make great, supportive and defensive friends if you stay on their good side, otherwise they will want nothing to do with you and you easily become an enemy.  They are extremely stubborn and always want to be strong and independent. Being dependant, means being weak and that they just cannot be.

There are a few choleric people in my life, but for the most part, I try to avoid people of this type of personality because honestly, they scare me, since I am more shy and sensitive. I find it would be very difficult to have a relationship with a choleric person, but for those who do I give you much credit.

Some more information on the four temperaments:


  • Predominate Body – Astral
  • Element – Air
  • Thrives on variety and change
  • Challenges – Fickle
  • Color – Yellow
  • Walk  – lightly on toes
  • Eyes – lively, dancing, often blue in color
  • Relationships – fickle
  • Food – nibbles
  • Memory  – like a sieve
  • Interest- the present, here and now
  • Clothingnew and colorful
  • To stimulate ask a personal favor
  • Parent and teacher attitude- show friendly interest, but be firm. Help the child to discover a true interest and develop a true sense of love for their teacher/parent. Introduce them to many subjects where interest can be fleeting and transitory.
  • Lesser and greater dangers of extremes in temperament – Character instability/lunacy or insanity


  • Predominant Body – Physical
  • Element – Earth
  • Thrives on security
  • Challenges – Self-Absorption
  • Color – Violet
  • Walk slow with a drooping, sliding gait
  • Eyestragic, mournful, dejected
  • Relationships – poor, has sympathy only with fellow melancholics
  • Food – finicky
  • Clothing – dark, drab, solid colors
  • Interest – self and the past
  • To stimulate – explain how others will suffer if he/she is not compliant
  • Parent and teacher attitude – show sympathy and empathize with suffering, tell stories of tragedy to get their minds off of their own suffering. Paint pictures of triumph over adversity.
  • Lesser and greater dangers in extremes in temperament – Extreme Depression/delusions and mania


  • Predominate Body – Etheric
  • Element – Water
  • Thrives on order
  • Challenges – Laziness
  • Color – Blue
  • Walk: plodding, ambling, with a steamroller-like quality
  • Eyes: sleepy, often half-closed
  • Relationships – friendly, impassive, reserved
  • Food – eats most everything and is interested in food
  • Memory – good concerning the world Interest: the present, without getting involved
  • Clothing – conservative
  • To stimulate – speak directly to the point, use shock tactics
  • Parent and teacher attitude – show calm strength, constant social intercourse to experience interests and enthusiasms, notice things outside self. Reflect an attitude of laziness and be boring.
  • Lesser and greater dangers of extremes in temperament – Extreme Disinterest/imbecility and idiocy


  • Predominant Body – Ego
  • Element – Fire
  • Thrives on short-term tasks
  • Challenges – Bossy
  • Color – Red
  • Walk – firm, heels dig into the ground with each step
  • Eyes – energetic, active, dark and challenging
  • Relationships –  friendly as long as he/she is in command
  • Food spicy
  • Memory – poor
  • Interest- the world, self, and future
  • Clothing- individual and outstanding
  • To stimulate- issue a challenge
  • Parent and teacher attitude – recall events and deeds (the next day), be firm, strong, and to the point. Cholerics are guided by respect and esteem for authority. Place obstacles in their path for them to overcome.
  • Lesser and greater dangers of extremes in temperament – Uncontrollable temper/fanaticism

Once we understand temperament, it is easy to understand why people in our lives are the way they are. In a way, they almost can’t help it. Steiner said that it is important to not allow any predominating temperament to rule us, but to become conscious of it and then work to really bring ourself into balance, especially as teachers and educators of our children. Regarding a child’s temperament, we should never try to change who they are or make them something that they are not, but find ways and methods of educating them that suit their unique temperament.

I hope that I have left you with something to think about. As I said, it really does help us to understand ourselves and others better and know how to better understand and educate our children. I hope that someone out there has found this information insightful and useful!

If you feel inspired to leave a comment, as always, I would love to hear from you!

Love and Light,




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