At least weekly, Nicolas has something come into his life that he obsesses about. It used to happen a few times a year, then monthly, and then - weekly. Sometimes now, it is daily. It's usually drawing - the boy loves to draw and I read to him while he is drawing or I have books on cd or kids' praise music on for him to listen to. I used to call it "persistence" or diligence or devoted, hard-working, studious, but - most often, I called it "focused". My sins be told - I have been calling it "obsessive" again. Hmmm... Obsessive?
I've been obsessive before... like, uh - a lot! Whenever I am on a diet, I "save myself" all week, so that I can have a dessert on Sunday. And, during the week, I think about my reward. That's kind of obsessive - right? Haven't you ever been out shopping and almost bought something - but, didn't? Then you get home and wish you would have gotten it and you can't stop thinking about it? That's kind of obsessive. There really are people out there that don't torture themselves like this. Not me. I am good at self-torture in the mind, too good, actually. And, it's part of my personality, which happens to be a melancholy. I have taken 3 different profile tests over the last 15 years, and - they have all shown me to be a strong melancholy. I am married to Mr. Choleric. Hubs... what a guy. It took me years to understand why he is so LOUD. Once I understood his personality, I learned how to communicate to him and that I need to blow off most of what he says, because he is not actually "yelling", he is just loud. but - we have some major conflict because of how we process and interpret each other. Oh yeah...
Here's what this means for the melancholy - me, as taken from Florence Littauer's Personality Plus. In fact, I have two copies of this book, should you want to borrow one:
Deep and thoughtful
Serious and purposeful
Talented and creative
Artistic or musical
Appreciative of beauty
Sensitive to others
As a parent, sets high standards and wants everything done right.
As a homemaker, keeps everything in order.
As an employee, schedule oriented and hard working.
A list maker and keeper.
Personality Weaknesses of the Melancholy
Can get too caught up in details
Doesn't do well with change.
Struggles with insecurity
Tends towards depression
(I'll keep the "weakness" list short because the Melancholy may tend to dwell on the negatives.)
Of all the personality types, the Melancholy probably struggles the most with a low self image because they have set such high standards for themselves and others.Words count with a Melancholy. Every word that comes their way will be replayed in their mind and analyzed for meaning. Their feelings are easily hurt. They have to work hard to keep from falling into a spirit of offense. It helps the Melancholy to stop and ask "did they mean to hurt my feelings?" or "could I be reading too much into what they said?" It also helps to simply echo back comments that are potentially hurtful and make sure that you haven't interpreted them wrong.
Those who have Melancholy people close to them should drop generalizations from their vocabulary. Words like "always" and "never" will not be appreciated. If at all possible, drop the volume of your voice and keep your tone friendly. If you are in a bad mood, take care that you do not drip your negativity on them, they will take it personal and be wondering all day what they did wrong.
A Melancholy can become easily isolated. It's a good thing to keep in touch and give them a lot of positive feedback and personal affirmation.
Melancholy's think all the time. When they get quiet, watch out... Don't be afraid to ask them if everything is alright. Depending on where they are on the road to spiritual maturity, they may not tell you what is really wrong, but be persistent.
Phlegmatic and Sanguine people do not usually have too many problems getting along with the Melancholy. But the Choleric can be a bit rough on them, so they will have to try to tone it down and develop their sensitivity.
The Melancholy is usually an amazing exorter. When they do give you complements, they mean it. They are also often prayer warriors when they turn their thoughts into prayers for the people around them. They are merciful and sensitive to others, making great confidants and counselors.
Who is the most famous Melancholy in the cartoon world? That's easy! It's Eeyore! (Winnie the Pooh's slow taking, self deprecating friend!)"
It's all true. It's me! I could call myself "quirky" and I think we all have some quirks - don't we? I think there's a little bit of OCD in everyone and that's the way it is. And, as adults, we can comprehend our strengths and our weaknesses. We know exactly where we need to improve, where we need to mellow-out and where need divine intervention too. There are parts of our lives where only God can intervene and change our hearts, our attitudes and then, the result is that our lives are changed.
So, how about in a child? How about my child? Nicolas is smart - there's no doubt about it, and I should know, I am his teacher, after all. If he wants to learn, he will. But - part of his "condition" is that the imbalance in his body and the foods that he eats have everything to do with his attitude and therefore, his learning/his education. What does that mean to his melancholy teacher? It means that I can't really follow a scope and sequence. We get stuck on one particular subject for quite a while, sometimes. Other times, I can't shove it down his throat. It is nearly impossible to force someone to learn something if they don't want to. So - we get lost on many, what I call, "bunny trails". You can call them tangents or related topics, but - the fact is that we are often all over the place in our homeschooling. Is he learning? Oh yes. Is he remembering what he is learning? Absoutely. Is this acceptable? It has to be. Other than math, we jump around throughout the week. My goals have to be monthly, not daily or weekly, because I never know how receptive Nicolas is going to be. Or how obsessive/quirky he will be either. Some call it working to mastery. That's a really good way of thinking about it. Instead of calling it obessing - I want to start calling is "mastery".
It tortures me to have to let go of what works for me and admit that it doesn't work that way for Nick. It tortures me to watch him love to learn and then the next minute have a screaming fit about hating school. It is a roller coaster most definitely. Without a doubt. Ups and downs, all the time. Good thing I have a seatbelt! It's not just silly talk, but God really is my seatbelt or safety harness. I would have gone off the deep end long ago if not for Him. He created me and He knows me. He can get me through this healing time too. I am counting on it.