on April 7, 1999
If you really want to understand yourself, it is necessary to look at your ancestry. Some people don't like looking back for fear of what they may discover. However, it is this discovery that will answer many of your life's questions and start the healing process.
Even though this book is not a treatise on nuture versus nature, it gives a balanced insight into this issue. It's amazing to find that after we do an honest assessment of ourselves, we find out we are just like (you fill in the blank, with a person in your family). Even though I did not have the extensive knowledge of my ancestors as did Florence, her many examples help me shed some light on my family's background. Examine the fruit and you will very likely determine what type of tree you have or came from.
This book is not about blame and is not a way for you to settle in the "that's just the way I am mode" either. Looking back can help you prevent some tragic mistakes of the past or at least will give you some warning signs about where you may be headed. I also think this book gives very readable clues about what things we are predisposed to and if we are wise will avoid.
I highly suggest you read the Personality Plus book first and then read this book. However, you will still get the benefits from reading this one even if you don't read the Personality Plus book.
This book is a book of freedom. Free to be you in light of your ancestry.
on May 15, 1999
Your Personality Tree is the perfect compliment to Florence's mega hit, Personality Plus. Where as Personality Plus leads the reader through the steps of identifying and understanding his or her temperament, Your Personality Tree explores the deeper root causes of behavoir. Your Personality Tree tenderly excavates the reasons of deep seeded frustrations in one's personality, and the habit of "masking" natural characteristics. Florence Littaurer unlocks the key to peel off the many masks people use to mask past pain. After finishing Your personality Tree, the reader is free from debilitating struggles, and can finally start to experience the personlity that God gave them. Thanks Florence!
on October 27, 2000
I can not say enough wonderful things about this book. Littauer's Personality Plus, the predecessor to this book was informative, but this one really dives into the personalities in depth as they relate to our tempermental make-up and family history. She also adds a deeper spiritual element to her work, which challenges the reader even further. I can't imagine a better tool for finding out why you are the way you are, who and what influenced your personality, and why we all should accept ourselves and each other the way God created us.
on February 22, 2010
Your Personality Tree
A "Deep Review" by Lawrence J. Clark
This month I will continue my series of "deep reviews" of books on personality and temperament theory. My method is to discuss not only what each book contains, but my personal reaction to the principles it covers and the examples used to illustrate the main points. Previous reviews in this series include Florence Littauer's Personality Plus and Marita Littauer's Wired That Way. You can find them at (...)
Since I had read and reviewed Personality Plus and Wired That Way, Part I of Your Personality Tree was mostly review material. After that, the most useful sections for me were chapters 5, "What Gets You Depressed?" and 6, "Are You Wearing a Mask?"
I wish I had read Chapter 5 eighteen years ago when I was in the midst of divorce. If you haven't read my previous reviews, my personality blend is Powerful Choleric/Popular Sanguine. As a Choleric, I was depressed because my life was out of control. My wife was divorcing me, and I could not understand why she would do such a thing. I had done everything I could to be a good husband and father, I was absolutely faithful, and I was neither verbally nor physically abusive. She said she simply didn't want to be married to me anymore, and that she felt she could have a better life on her own. As a Sanguine, I was depressed because my wife no longer gave me the attention I craved, my jokes were no longer funny to her, and life with her constant criticism and negative attitude was not much fun at all.
It took me over a year after the divorce to finally seek therapy, but by that time I was in such bad shape that I was considered clinically depressed and was put on medication. If I had understood more about my own and my ex-wife's temperaments, I might not have spent so much time blaming myself for her choice to initiate the divorce.
Chapter 6 helped me to more fully understand the concept of masking. I could see how I had spent several years wearing a Melancholy mask of perfectionism in an attempt to first please my stepfather when I was a child, then my ex-wife when I was an adult. I could really identify with Florence's example of living for fifteen years masking as a Melancholy/Phlegmatic at home while living out her true Sanguine/Choleric in the public eye. Even after my divorce I continued to exhibit this pattern in other relationships. I am thankful to say that I have now overcome this issue, which was the root cause of much of my depression, and have not taken any anti-depressant medication for the past twelve years.
Part II of Your Personality Tree was very enlightening. It showed me how my personality has been shaped by the traits I have inherited. In my case, doing the family tree exercise was a little tricky, since I grew up with a stepfather and did not meet my biological father until I was twenty years old. It has been interesting, though, to see how many traits I inherited from his side of the family, even though I wasn't around to experience them during my formative years. Since I was "grafted" into the Clark family at only 18 months of age, though, I can see many personality traits that I have inherited from that side of the family.
This section also helped me to understand each of my parents and their parents better, and looking around at assorted aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, etc., I can see how these personality traits are passed down from generation to generation.
Another interesting thing I learned from this section was how the different personalities interact with and react to each other. For example, one of my uncles is a Powerful Choleric, as was his father. When I was a child, I was intimidated and often bullied by this particular family member. Although I am a Choleric/Sanguine, I now intentionally mask a Phlegmatic personality when I am around him so that we can get along better. I understand that there is no way he is going to change his personality, so if I want to have fun (Sanguine need), I am willing to give up control (Choleric need) for a short time whenever we visit.
An excellent line that I read in Chapter 7 was, "You will then find the reasons for reactions your mate has that have nothing to do with your behavior." Florence was giving advice to someone trying to understand the spouse's family personality tree. Later in the chapter she discusses two main benefits from exploring the personality tree: 1) to see where we've come from and why we are the way we are, and 2) we'll be aware of what we are passing on to our children. These are extremely important concepts that I plan to emphasize when doing seminars for married couples.
The two chapters on parenting and discovering the personalities of our children were also helpful. My two older children are now grown, but I can see how they each have their own personality traits. My oldest daughter is a Popular Sanguine/Powerful Choleric; she is a social butterfly but is also internally driven to achieve goals, but often masks Melancholy traits due to the influence of her mother. My son, who is a junior in college, is a Popular Sanguine/Peaceful Phlegmatic who manages to charm his way into getting what he wants and is more than happy to sit back and let others do most of the work. My youngest daughter, who is not quite a teenager, is also a Popular Sanguine/Peaceful Phlegmatic.
Part III of this book was the most difficult section for me to read. After I accepted Christ and began attending a Christian college at age twenty, I thought all my problems were solved. I felt that since I was a new creature in Christ, all of the physical and emotional difficulties I faced as a child would disappear. I tried to live my life modeled after the Beatle's lyrics, "All you need is love." What I didn't understand until a dozen years later was that my in-born Sanguine/Choleric temperament had been constantly squashed down by those I was close to.
Reading this section brought up a lot of difficult memories and people from my past, but it also helped me to understand who these people were and, by exploring their family's personality trees, figure out why they acted the way they did. They were not born with a mission to abuse and destroy Lawrence J. Clark; they just were the way they were (and are). This realization helped me to forgive them for their past actions, and also to understand how I masked my true personality while around them; now, though, thanks to Florence Littauer and her book, Your Personality Tree, I have the knowledge and the freedom to let my true personality shine through!
on December 4, 2007
I first read this book at least 15 years ago at the recommendation of a friend who loaned it to me, and I found it revolutionary. It was out of print then, and I'm glad to see it's back.
By identifying four basic personality types, Littauer lays out a very common sense foundation for understanding those around you, why they behave as they do, and why they relate to us the way they do, for good or ill, and vice versa.
Far from pigeonholing people, Littauer offers the freedom to be who you truly are, and thus challenges you to offer that same grace to others, as well as to have reasonable and realistic expectations of them. She also shows you how to recognize when someone is wearing a "mask", i.e., being who they are "supposed" to be, via peer or family influence, rather than their true self, which pretty much never benefits anyone. And she identifies key strengths and weaknesses borne by each personality type: armed with this knowledge, you can work to build your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, and encourage others to do the same.