Melancholy Eeyore

Without Eeyore, life would be chaotic indeed. Eeyore has an unerring sense of order, clear thinking analytical skills, and the persistence to get the job done. Typically the word melancholy brings up images of sadness or depression. While Eeyores do tend toward pessimism, a more correct definition of melancholy is contemplative or pensive reflection. Eeyore is a thinker, a planner, a consider-er. Nothing flits through his brain. Every thought and fact is held up for careful consideration, it’s value weighed and measured, and then precisely cataloged in his orderly brain for future reference.

In the world of Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Woods, Eyeore is usually found alone, sitting quietly. He quite often comes up with the most profound pronouncements about his observations on the world around him. Because he is a deep thinker and a less energetic person physically,  he is more apt to stop and  notice what others miss and then take the time to reflect on what he’s seen.

At the bottom right of our temperament chart , Eeyore is low on the physical enthusiasm scale and far to the right side where the need to complete tasks far outweighs any desire to socialize with people. Eeyore is the polar opposite of Tigger. Being around groups of people, expected to chit chat and be cheery drains the energy out of Eeyore. Given time alone for reflection and introspection actually re-charges his battery. Eeyores get great fulfillment out of bringing order to chaos. Their persistence allows them to soldier on where others quit in frustration. Rather than getting frustrated at a challenge, Eeyore puts his considerable intellect to work and takes pleasure in devising solutions to sticky problems. While their slow, methodical approach to life may frustrate more animated personalities, it is a gift that should not be ignored.

Rational and Reliable
Both Tigger and Rabbit are quick, and sometimes rash, in their decisions. Many times this can lead to disaster. As quick thinkers, they are both good at making lemonade from lemons, but often ill-considered risks can send a business, finances, or a relationship right up in flames. Eeyore, on the other hand, prides himself on the ability to weigh all the options, recognize potential obstacles, come up contingency plans and avoid emotional decisions.

My Tigger friend, Michelle, married Kyle, a solid Eeyore type. While she’s bouncing off to the next great adventure, he is patiently considering all the possibilities, investigating the risks, and quite often picking up the pieces behind her. When it came time to buy their last car, Michelle was convinced she needed the shiny new SUV sitting at the dealership down the road. “It has lots of room for the kids and their friends” she argued. “It’s four wheel drive! It will keep us safe in bad weather. And besides, it is such a pretty color, I would look good driving it.” The dealership was offering 0% financing, it would only cost $489 a month for 7 years. It was too good a deal to pass up, according to Michelle.

Kyle was not buying anything without first doing his research. He looked for consumer reports on the internet, checked out safety ratings and compared miles per gallon. He polled all the local banks for the best interest rate. He pointed out to Michelle, “we live in Georgia, we don’t get enough snow to justify a four wheel drive.” After long and careful deliberation, he pronounced the best car for his family was a 3 year old, four-door sedan with low mileage and excellent reliability. Color didn’t matter, flashy wheels were not important. The cost was reasonable, the insurance would be less expensive than it would be on a new SUV and they would still be driving it long after it had been paid off, according to his projections.

Personally, I would side with Michelle. Actually I did… once. My first car was a choice between a bright red Mustang and a beige Chevy Nova (anyone who knows their cars now knows exactly in which decade I was a new driver :)  ) For those who don’t know, Novas were basic, boring sedans that only old ladies drove, in my teenaged opinion. So I got the Mustang. It was like a giant bucket with four wheels and a hole in the bottom. No matter how much money I poured in to it, it never ran well.

Had I listened to my Eeyore Dad (lordy, don’t anyone tell him I’m admitting this) I would have been saved thousands in repair bills and tons of headaches.  Fortunately, Michelle, for all her Tigger impulsiveness, knows enough to trust her husband’s strengths. They got the sedan. She did get to pick the color, however, because Kyle knows enough about temperaments to respect his wife’s needs, too.

Young Eeyore
You can usually spot an Eeyore right from babyhood.  They are more apt to be late walkers because they don’t like to learn by trial and error. They wait until they’ve got it all figured out,  then they get up and go. An Eeyore baby isn’t terribly tolerant of discomfort or crooked diapers. When they grow older, tags have to be cut out of clothing and socks are worn inside out so the seam across the toe doesn’t irritate them.

While most kids clean their room only when forced and usually with as little effort as they can get away with, Eeyore makes his bed every day, p e r f e c t  l y. There are no wrinkles in the sheets or pillows out of place, it would disrupt his sense of order. In school he is conscientious about his work, completing assignments fully and taking seriously the teacher’s admonition to read a book every week during summer vacation. The world is very black and white to Eeyore, he takes everything very literally.

All temperaments can be creative. Tigger is expressively, and sometimes wildly creative, Eeyore is more practical in his creative endeavors. They could both be excellent painters, but it would be like VanGogh compared to a Gongbi painter. VanGogh was abstract and free form, the Gongbi painting style is very meticulous and detailed. Michelangelo is a great example of a creative Eeyore. When he was commissioned to do the David sculpture, he didn’t just take up his chisel and start to hack away at the marble. He spent months in detailed study of the human form, going so far as to frequent a morgue where he could study the inner structure of bones and the interplay between muscle and movement. He didn’t approach the piece of stone until he had formed in his mind a completely detailed image of every square inch that was to be his masterpiece.

For fun, Eeyore boys will choose to play with one friend, designing and building a Lego city over joining the soccer team. Girls will have one or two close friends who will cooperate with her in setting up a doll house and find enjoyment in placing each piece of furniture in just the right place.

Adult Eeyore
As parents, Eeyores can be a rock of stability. They never forget to pick their children up from a playdate. They watch carefully over the school grades to insure their children don’t get behind. They set and follow consistent rules of behavior. Eeyores make great parents because children always know what to expect from them. The rules are always clear and routines never change.

Eeyore is an island of predictability in an often crazy world. They are geniuses of structure and order. In fact, most people who are classified as “genius” are also Eeyores. If academic excellence is the yardstick for high intelligence, Eeyore will win the day. Fortunately for everyone else, high IQ is not the only way to  be intelligent, but that’s a story for another day. Eeyore does well in school, well in college and  performs his job with excellence and reliability. He is never late and never goofs off.  He can use his creative intelligence to imagine things that have never existed and use his analytic and engineering skills to make his vision come to life.

Get it Right
Eeyore likes everything to be done right and he usually knows exactly what “right” is, sometimes to the  frustration of those around him. He can be uncompromising in his quest for perfection and it spills over into his expectations of how others should live. My Eeyore friend Tony was at the house one day when my son asked me to cut the bruised end off the banana he was eating. I grabbed a knife, dropped the banana on the counter and “chop” no more icky black spot. My friend was horrified. “You can’t cut things right on the counter! Aren’t you going to use a cutting board?”
I looked at him, puzzled “why? It’s just a banana.”
“Because you’ll mark up the counter top” was his confident reply.
“oh well,” I answered, “it won’t be too bad.”
I’m afraid my reputation is forever stained in his eyes. Anyone who would cut a banana without using a cutting board is clearly not playing with a full deck in his view. While this encounter was humorous, in a marriage or work partnership it can be disastrous, if Eeyore is not willing to flex a little.

I have a bit of Eeyore in my Rabbiti-ness since we’re neighboring temperaments, although not to an extreme degree. I do tend to get frustrated when things don’t work they way they are supposed to. After 25+ years of marriage to Pooh Bear, I’ve learned to take my cues from him if I feel my anxiety rising when things aren’t going right. Eeyores would do well to recognize that life is not always perfect and they can’t control everything to their satisfaction, no matter how much preparation and forethought goes into it. If an Eeyore is lucky enough to have the calming influence of a Pooh in his life, take advantage of it and listen to their insights occasionally.

Another area where Eeyores might take a lesson from others is in recreation. Eeyores live for the practical. They are hard workers, dedicated and thorough, as long as the work has purpose. Doing something “just because” is unimaginable. There is an old saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” Jack was definitely an Eeyore and in danger of becoming dull. Eeyore will typically not join the gang for a night at a crowded bar, but he would be drawn to something that takes as much intelligence as it does physical effort, like rock climbing.

Living in seclusion sounds appealing to most Eeyores. Quiet, and restful, with no one to mess up the spices in their alphabetical order. Left to his own devices though, Eeyores are likely to sink into long, bottomless depressions. They might scoff at the daily dramas of Tigger, priding themselves on their logical minds and emotional stability. The truth is, Eeyore is just as emotional. His emotions simmer under the surface taking days or even weeks to erupt. Instead of blowing off steam and getting over it, like Tigger or Rabbit, he will stew. He’ll spend days trudging around, moping and generally being miserable to everyone because of some offense against him, real or imagined.

Tony, my Eeyore friend, is in business with a Pooh Bear/Tigger blend, Charles. At the start, they had several occasions to butt heads.  Charles spent weeks trying to convince Tony they should pay for a membership to the Chamber of Commerce. As far as Tony was concerned, it was a time waster. Why get together with people who own businesses unrelated to his and chit chat over lunch? There was work to get done. As I’ve shared about temperaments with them, they’ve come to see that they both have valuable insights about what is best for their business, nether is “better” or more right than the other, just different. I was able to show Tony where his natural Eeyore tendency toward solitude was making him biased against what could be a valuable business resource. Tony’s more conservative characteristics do help keep Charles’ spendthrift ways in check, though. It’s a great partnership when they recognize where their own strengths and weaknesses color their decision making process.

If life was a team sport, Tigger would be the cheerleader, Rabbit would be the coach, Pooh is the team player and Eeyore is the glue that keeps the whole thing together. He is the team manager. He’ll keep the stats, organize the locker room, make sure nothing is left behind. Without the support of Eeyore nobody else would be able to perform their duties quite as well.

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Uncovering the Gifts Within Us