Blogger Widgets Ender-Chan's Thoughts: Disability and the Five Temperaments Part 2d: The Phlegmatic

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Disability and the Five Temperaments Part 2d: The Phlegmatic

Phlegmatics are well-rounded, submissive people that hate to bother others or stir up conflict. They range from warmly attentive to sluggish and lazy; a phlegmatic tends to be passive-aggressive rather than active-aggressive. They request rather than demand and tend to blame themselves for anything that goes awry.

How a Phlegmatic Deals
A phlegmatic person's lack of drive becomes their own drive: to protect their low energy reserves. Phlegmatics like routine and resist change. This temperament tends to keep their mouth shut and does not take to advocacy readily. However, advocacy is critical in order for a phlegmatic to better protect their energy reserves. Generally, a phlegmatic is uncertain of themselves and tends to look to others for advice. A phlegmatic defers to pleasing others as they hate to burden others. They do what they can, not to lead which is more choleric, but to follow others and please them. A phlegmatic would rather be inactive than act wrongly, so they tend to fly under the radar. They tend to beat around the bush rather than plowing through it; obstacles make a phlegmatic halt and fumble.

What to Watch For
Because of the people-pleasing and submissive nature of this temperament, phlegmatics are especially susceptible to abuse and overwork. However, some protect themselves from overwork by using verbal or behavioral defenses. A phlegmatic might put on a "happy mask" to please their caregiver/parent if they are abused. However, unlike a sanguine, they will not readily doff it. It is harder to know if a phlegmatic is hurt as this temperament does not readily show emotions or communicate. It is crucial that a phlegmatic knows where to draw the line as to how they are treated. Phlegmatics, when given a mile, take an inch. It is rare that a phlegmatic will outright challenge authority, so take care not to believe accusations of belligerence right away, especially if they seem absurd or out-of-character.

The Phlegmatic and Therapies
The pliant nature of the phlegmatic pleases therapists as a phlegmatic likes to meet the standards of others. However, unlike a melancholic, a phlegmatic will not tax themselves with a goal that is too much work, which frustrates the therapist. A phlegmatic may not address concerns due to their wish not to be a bother. They tend to use verbal defenses and passively resist with halfhearted effort and shoddy work when they wish not to do something. Typical social skill therapies tend to reinforce submission, which a phlegmatic already has. A therapy that teaches one how to assert themselves is rare, but such will benefit a phlegmatic immensely. Take care that a phlegmatic does not have too many therapies to prevent them from overtiring.

Phlegmatics and Acquired Disability
A phlegmatic takes to an acquired disability just as badly, if not worse, than other temperaments, which is a misconception overlooked by many. They may "go invisible" due to their innate desire not to be a bother. If a phlegmatic experiences a grief period, they may neglect their personal appearance and lose interest in things they once enjoyed. This temperament is either quick to accept their new identity or harbors long-term guilt over their "mistake" thinking they will be a "burden". A phlegmatic may resist help not to be superior to others, but to not be a bother. Generally, a phlegmatic will either beat their self-esteem into the ground or raise it through helping others by doing what they can. This temperament resists change; the changes brought on by an acquired disability fluster and anger the phlegmatic. Letting go of internalized grief is important for a phlegmatic.

Phlegmatics and Assistance
A phlegmatic may be reluctant to accept assistance because they do not want to burden others with their needs. However, this temperament may accept assistance to protect their low energy reserves. Even so, they will work hard to please the people who assist them and form a friendship with them like the sanguine would. A phlegmatic is generally more accepting of devices than other temperaments as it is something else to prevent overexertion. The main problems a phlegmatic has with assistance are either over-reliance or refusing it entirely.

"Do" for a Phlegmatic

  • Offer doable challenges. 
  • Encourage goal-setting and goal-getting.
  • Push them, but not too hard.
  • Let them sleep. Sleep is especially crucial to the phlegmatic.
  • Provide structure.
  • Teach a phlegmatic how to let go.
  • Be supportive.
"Don't" for a Phlegmatic
  • Set standards too high.
  • Overload a phlegmatic with activities.
  • Dismiss their concerns.
  • Do everything for them.
  • Be aggressive.
  • Try to change their temperament. (This goes for all temperaments.)
  • Tell them to have more drive.
The Phlegmatic Disability Advocate
  • Tends to follow typical PC rules
  • Goes out of their way to not to offend others
  • Says "Maybe X is the way, or something?" rather than "X is the way."
  • Does not like to discuss controversial topics, sometimes skirting them entirely
  • Is especially distressed by accounts of abuse
  • Non-confrontational, welcoming approach to advocacy
  • Less likely to take initiative
  • Requests rather than demands 
  • Welcoming to all kinds, not just people with similar experiences
  • Assumes a "follower" role rather than a "leader" role
Phlegmatics are meek, submissive, low-key people and, thus, have difficulty with advocacy. However, once a phlegmatic learns how to advocate, they become excellent advocates as their quiet iron will and diplomatic nature convey key points without offending others. Phlegmatics are the stable supporters of advocacy that dissolve conflict and ease newbies in. This temperament's strengths are a desire to please others and empathy with weakness being apathy and laziness. 

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