Time for Temperance

Hi!!! And Welcome Back to Motivated Mondays! 

We’re talking about strengths. 

A quick recap of last week before we continue.

Last week, we journeyed to Justice, the core virtue that helps make life fair interpersonally. Justice creates the best possible interactions between an individual and a group/community, and the VIA Character Strengths include Teamwork, Fairness, and Leadership in this category (1). I hope you found the motto, description, and action opportunity for each of these strengths insightful. 

Did you accept my invitation last week and journey towards Justice by actively engaging your Teamwork, Fairness, or Leadership in a meaningful way? If so, how did your action impact the group dynamic in your relationships?

This week, I want to take the time to talk about Temperance. Temperance is the core virtue that protects us from excess. It is the practiced ability to observe and moderate one’s emotions, motivation, and behavior internally (1). The VIA identifies Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, and Self-Regulation as the pathways to Temperance (1). 

So, let’s take time for Temperance!

When Forgiveness is a signature strength, you are merciful to those who have hurt you and good at pardoning offense. You believe in second chances and value mercy over revenge. It is important to note that forgiveness is not condoning, forgetting, or reconciliation. Rather, forgiveness is an internal process that protects ourselves from hatred and aids compassion towards others (1). At its best, Forgiveness can also be used as a form of self-compassion when we make mistakes (2). And being human (Well, I assume you are…), you bound to make a few mistakes from time to time. If this strength speaks to you, I invite you to engage your Forgiveness and write about the personal benefits that came out of a negative situation, think about a time when someone wronged you and try to see it from their perspective, or work towards self-compassion the next time you make a mistake (3).

Forgiveness’ Motto: Let it go.

(And no, I am not going to sing from Frozen… at least not right now.)

The strength of Humility is a quiet one and is often misunderstood in contemporary Western culture. So, let’s take a closer look. A common misconception is that Humility is similar to low self-esteem or a lack of self-worth. At its best, Humility is an accurate assessment of the self. Folks who high in Humility prefer to let their actions speak for themselves and do not seek the spotlight (1). They do not feel a need to present themselves as better than they are or distort information to appear ‘better’. Anecdotally, I have found that folks who are high in Humility sometimes have difficulty talking about their personal strengths. If this is you, know that developing your strengths can be an internal exercise. Since Humility can be difficult to self-identify, ask yourself if others recognize and value the fact that you are humble? If so, Humility may be a personal strength. To develop Humility you may want to resist showing off accomplishments for the next week and see how it impacts your relationships, actively share credit for a success by telling others about the contributions of your team, or self-monitor and notice if you are speaking more than others in a group and if you are, prioritize listening (3).

Humility’s Motto: Place attention on others.

Prudence is often called practical or cautious wisdom. Prudence leverages practical reasoning and self-management to achieve long-term goals through both short and long term planning (1). It means you are judicious in action. Farsighted and deliberate, Prudent folks are careful not say or do things they may later regret (2). If this sounds like you, Prudence may be your pathway to Temperance. I invite you to develop your Prudence and think twice before you say anything at least 10 times over the next week and notice the effects, actively remove distractions when making your next important decision, or visualize the potential consequences of your next decision at one, five and ten years from now (3).

Prudence’s Motto: Think before you act.

Self-Regulation is the final pathway to Temperance identified by the VIA. If you are high in Self-Regulation, you are a disciplined person who is in control of your appetites and emotions. You are conscious and regulate what you feel and how you act (1). Self-Regulation can override impulses and direct behavior (2). It is important to note that Self-Regulation compared to a muscle – a resource that can be depleted and fatigued when exerted and yet strengthened through regular practice. This is one reason why resisting temptation is harder when you are tired. If Self-Regulation is your pathway to Temperance, I invite you to make an effort to control your emotions and focus on the positive attributes of a situation the next time you are upset, set goals to improve your everyday living and make sure you complete the task at hand, or track you daily energy rhythms and align important tasks to when you are most alert (3).

  Got Self-Regulation?

Got Self-Regulation?

Self-Regulation’s Motto: Manage your feelings.

Which of these pathways to Temperance resonates with you? Once again, I invite you to take action. Take time for Temperance in the coming week to actively engage your Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, or Self-Regulation in a meaningful way. Try one of the action ideas listed above to develop your core virtue of Temperance or create your own. The important thing here is to take the time to try action opportunity.

I hope you enjoy engaging your personal pathway to Temperance, and I look forward to seeing you next week as we engage and discover our personal pathways to Transcendence! 

As always, gratitude for the expertise of the following resources.

References

1. Peterson C, Seligman M. Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification (Vol 1). Oxford University Press; 2004.

2. Polly S, Britton K, Maymin S. (Eds.). Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life. Positive Psychology News, LLC; 2015.

3. Rashid T, Anjum A. 340 ways to use VIA character strengths. Unpublished manuscript; 2005.

4. Wedding D, Niemiec R. Positive psychology at the movies: Using films to build virtues and character strengths. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe; 2008.

* Special thanks to viacharacter.org for the Character Strength Mottos