Inside Pygmalion's lovely statue he found a heart of stone.

Inside Pygmalion’s lovely statue he found a heart of stone.

I’m fascinated by people and personalities. So I borrowed this book, “Please Understand Me, Character & Temperament Types“, written by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates. I discovered, among other things, there’s a reason for my interest in people… I’m hot wired for it! Like the majority of authors, my personality is one of the NFs – types of people who have dominant intuition and feeling characteristics. The book points out that people are fundamentally different, and explains temperament theory and why being different is OK. Keirsey reinforces through his work, “It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is.”

Honor, respect and appreciation for our individual differences in personality. That means you can be you and I can be me and we’ll all get along copacetically. Hermann Hesse described what we all attempt to do to the people in our closest relationships, at least to some degree…

“In Greek legend, a brash young sculptor named Pygmalion found the women of Cyprus so impossibly flawed that he resolved to carve a statue of his ideal woman, embodying every feminine grace and virtue. For months he labored with all his prodigious skill (and also with a strange compulsion), rounding here, smoothing there, until he had fashioned the most exquisite figure ever conceived by art. So exquisite indeed was his creation that Pygmalion fell passionately in love with the statue, and could be seen in his studio kissing its marble lips, fingering its marble hands, dressing and grooming the figure as if caring for a doll. But soon, and in spite of the work’s incomparable loveliness, Pygmalion was desperately unhappy, for the lifeless statue could not respond to his desires, the cold stone could not return the warmth of his love. He had set out to shape his perfect woman, but had succeeded only in creating his own frustration and despair.”

As I was reading about my type I found out that we’re odd balls in some respects, that it is very difficult for the other temperament types to really grasp what it is that makes us NFs tick! Keirsey gave an example, please read this passage…

“Becoming a Person means that the individual moves toward being, knowingly and acceptingly, the process which he inwardly and actually is. He moves away from being what he is not, from being a facade. He is not trying to be more than he is, with the attendant feelings of insecurity or bombastic defensiveness. He is not trying to be less than he is, with the attendant feelings of guilt or self-depreciation. He is increasingly listening to the deepest recesses of his psychological and emotional being, and finds himself increasingly willing to be, with greater accuracy and depth, that self which he most truly is.” Carl Rogers.

Would you consider that passage to be convoluted and tortuous rhetoric? Ummm, not for me! However, I can understand now when I rattle on why someone would perceive me to be from another planet, or on drugs. I can assure you that neither would be the case, but that my mind works quite differently than most. According to Kiersey, the NFs make up 12% of the population, however, we have extremely broad influence as we account for the vast majority of novelists, dramatists, television writers, playwrights, journalists, poets and biographers. So we’re an island in the stream, so to speak, but one that rises well above the plains.

I’m using the NF type as an example, and there are plenty of other ideas to learn and share about personalities and how they mix (or don’t!). The work by Kiersey is but one piece of this puzzle to the makeup of extraordinary relationships.

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” Thomas Merton

Are you fascinated by people who have different personalities? Do you find yourself trying to change people to match your character?

Image courtesy of Alex Bakharev and Wikipedia