Temperament and Stress in Our Everday Life


Author: Linda Berens


I spent the weekend working - 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Sunday. Was I stressed? Yes. But "Why?" is the relevant question. The work did not stress me; it was exhilarating. One stressor was feeling guilty for not being at home; another for having to quit while I was in the flow and not yet finished. This is temperament-related stress. No matter how much self-talk I do about being okay to be who I am, I still feel the tug of roles that don't match my temperament. Some Theorist™ (NT) women become competent homemakers and mothers, fulfilling their need for knowledge through other activities. I choose to live with the "tug." It helps to have a supportive Theorist™ (INTP) husband and a Theorist™ (INTP) son. It also helps to have my grown Catalyst™ (ENFJ) daughter working with me. It was worse when the kids were at home.

Temperament related stress is not the same as everyday stress of overwork, over indulgence, and worries over money, relationships, etc. It results from not getting the core needs and values of the temperament pattern met. As with most stress, it is worse when it is unconscious. Knowledge of one's own temperament pattern can help manage and even prevent such stress.

The four temperaments are patterns, not clusters of traits. While their discovery was based on observations of behavior patterns that clustered into four groupings, further study has led to a theory of interrelated needs, core values, talents and behaviors.

THE CORE: Like a tree trunk, each temperament has a core from which all growth and rejuvenation orginate. The growing part of a tree is at the center and growth emanates outward from that center. If that center is damaged or diseased, the tree dies. For the temperament pattern, the growing part of the pattern is the core needs and values. It is only when these core needs are met that the individual is energized and truly high functioning. To not have the core needs met, is like 'psychic death' and is one source of stress or even dysfunctional behavior. Closely related to the core needs are the core values. Pursuing these values gives the individual the greatest nurturance.

OUT FROM THE CORE: The inner bark of a tree provides the transport of food to the growing section. These are like talents or favorite abilities and roles. By exercising these talents and playing temperament specific roles, we bring new energy to ourselve. These talents and roles are well suited to meet the temperament needs.

For each temperament, there are different stressors according to different core needs, different expressions of stress and different 'antidotes' for that stress.
  Catalyst™ Theorist™ Stabilizer™ Improviser™
Core Needs Meaning & Significance

Unique Identity
Mastery & Self-Control

Knowledge & Competence
Membership or Belonging

Responsibility or Duty
Freedom to Act on Needs of the Moment

Ability to Make an Impact
Stressors Insincerity


Lack of Integrity


Lack of Knowledge


Lack of Belonging


Lack of Impact

Becomes Phony

Becomes Mindless

Becomes Sick, Tired, Sorry, Worried

Becomes Rebellious & is Restricted
Antidotes for
Affirmation and Nurturing from Self & Others

New 'Quests'
Reconfirmation of Competence & Knowledge

A New Project
Appreciation & Inclusion in News & Activities

New Membership
Find Options & New Ways to Impact

New Activities


Adapted from Linda V. Berens, Understanding Yourself and Others®: An Introduction to the 4 Temperaments-4.0 (Telos Publications, 2010) *Used with permission.                
Buy from Amazon now


So how does this play out in everyday life? My Stabilizer™ (ESTJ) friend was looking for a job even though she did not need to work. I asked why and she said her membership needs were not being met being home alone. My Improviser™ (ESFP) friend calls me periodically, when his job is oppressive, and talks about becoming an independent consultant and working with me. Shortly after, he finds a new position with his current employer, doing something exciting and impactful. My Catalyst™ (ENFP) daughter-in-law quit her job and took a big cut in pay. The organization seem to be ignoring the value of the individual and focusing only on organizations. Even though she agrees with them in principle, it is not consistent with her unique identity. She reports having much less anxiety and stress. My Theorist™ (ENTJ) colleague takes up new projects to feed her need for knowledge and competence even when she is overbooked. She puts up with the 'stress' of managing the complexity and hectic schedule to reduce the temperament stress. These people all know about their temperament needs and thus have 'permission' to seek to get them met. They are lucky. For those who are not aware and for whom life has not been so kind, the temperament related stress can turn into severe dysfunction. But that is another story belonging to the realm of psycopathology and therapy.

Related to temperament stress is the stress that comes from type dynamics. In relation to Temperament, the Jungian Mental Processes are ways we get our core needs met. Some of them meet those core needs better than others. These are the preferences that show up in the type code. We may over use them in trying to get our temperament needs met and and need to recharge using other mental processes. For example, as an INTP, I tend to spend a lot of time in introverted Thinking and extraverted iNtuiting. If I do that too much, I get wired and overloaded. I recharge by going outside and visually enjoying my surroundings. Taking photos or even shopping focus my senses. That's when I'm productive. When I'm not, I eat sweets to engage my senses!

Since we usually have developed our favorite Mental Processes more, being in situations that require us to use other Mental Processes (the Inferior or even the ones in our code in opposite attitudes) for an extended period of time may be stress producing. In my own case, I find training and facilitating the six-day Qualifying Programs can keep me in Sensing (physically managing the logistics) and extraverted Feeling (relating to participants and responding to their needs) too long. While I find doing these things rewarding, too much drains me. Of course, the Theorist™ need for competence comes in and can even increases my "in the grips" stress. Awareness and a co-trainer help me manage this stress.

The bottom line is knowing yourself, your temperament and type dynamics, can go a long way toward helping you deal with stress in your everyday life.


facebook share icon linkedin share icon