Everyone is unique. This makes life interesting, and it can also make life challenging. There could be tension when someone doesn’t think or behave the same way you do. And that tension often boils over during particularly stressful times like the holiday season. Lack of understanding others is, well, understandable. But what if there’s a way to “read” someone and better understand what makes them tick? Wouldn’t life be easier if we could get along better with each other? Ayurveda has some answers.
How Ayurveda defines types of people
If you don’t like to be defined, rest assured, the Ayurvedic approach won’t put you in a box. Ayurvedic science helps to explain the uniqueness of everyone. Personalized wellness is one of Ayurveda’s trademarks. Wellness in Ayurveda is holistic, which means that it’s not just about your physical health. Your mental and emotional selves’ matter, too. It’s all addressed through the concept of Prakriti, or individual constitution. Everyone has an individual constitution they are born with, and it never changes. This constitution determines more “strictly” physical traits like whether that person has lightly or deeply toned eyes or tends to be thinner or heavier built. Constitution also determines if they are more likely to run anxious during stress or go silent and ghost the situation.
There are seven different individual constitution types, and each has a general personality to match. But you don’t have to be able to identify someone’s constitution to start reaping the benefits of reading constitutional types. The truth is, most people are imbalanced and are likely to express traits that are associated with this imbalance. If you know their constitution – great! Knowledge is power. And even when you aren’t sure what it is, just knowing how the different constitutions manifest energetically can help you build compassion and understanding and get along better with everyone.
How the Doshas contribute to individual constitution and imbalance
If you want a proper introduction to the Doshas, you can read this previous blog. Here, we’ll keep it simple and primarily focus on how the Doshas pertain specifically to a person’s behaviors – whether it’s their constitution or imbalance expressing that behavior.
The Doshas are energetic principles that are fundamental to Ayurvedic science. They are subtle energy forces that pervade all matter in the universe. Planets are made up of Doshas, the sun and stars, all the plants and rocks on earth, and all the space in between. The Doshas are combinations of five elements, ether, air, fire, water, and earth, and thus contain the traits of those combined elements. For example, Vata Dosha is light and mobile, like the air and ether that makes it up. Meanwhile, Pitta Dosha is hot and sharp, like the fire and small amount of water in its composition. And Kapha Dosha is stable and heavy, like the earth and water within it.
You were born with a unique balance of these three Doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha in your system. Dosha means “that which can go out of balance.” Doshas are subject to change. Throughout your life, imbalances caused by lifestyle habits or your environment may tip the scale of how much of each Dosha is present. For example: if you’re dominant in Vata and Pitta, you’re healthy as a Vata-Pita. Your birth constitution is your neutral, harmonious state. But if your mom’s dominant in Vata and then her Pitta increases substantially and she starts acting like a Vata-Pitta, that’s an imbalance for her.
The personalities of each Dosha during a holiday season
Each Dosha possesses hallmark traits. Once you know them, you can’t help but see them everywhere. Previously, there were simply angry people fueled by holiday stress. Once you’re empowered with an Ayurvedic lens, you see a Pitta individual vexed by their inability to control the drink station, or a Kapha person getting pushed to the limit of listening to everyone’s problems and exploding. Let’s dive into the Doshas’ personalities to gain insights into how we can get along better during the holiday season.
People who have more Vata Dosha in their constitution are highly intellectual, creative and often “on the go.”
Tends towards extremes
Vatas (Vata-dominant people) can veer into or oscillate between opposite extremes. The extremes are natural for the Vata individual and can happen quickly. They may be uninterested in your party invitation one moment, but then all about it the next, and then not show up at all while juggling ten other invitations. It’s helpful to check in with a Vata individual to gauge where they are now, as past information can easily become outdated.
Difficulty making decisions and keeping them
Good luck getting a Vata to make a decision and stick to it. The Vata energy is always moving, so Vata folks can find decision-making a challenge. They will also change their minds and then change them again. If you ask the Vata what they are bringing to the party, don’t be surprised if they decide to change it up later. As for the advice on extremes, check in with your Vata friends more than once to get the latest update and double-confirm plans. If you find their scattered minds too much effort, just be straight with them and ask for a definitive answer. Make it clear you want that to be final. “No changes, please.”
A tendency towards forgetfulness and flaking out
With the difficulty of sticking to decisions comes the same challenge of committing to plans. This is one of the most important lessons to get along better with people with a lot of Vata Dosha. When your Vata Dosha sibling forgets your party date or the correct time, it’s not necessarily personal. Reminders are always appreciated by Vata folks because they really do need them. They love to communicate, even if they forget to respond, so send those save the dates and confirmations a few times each!
Can get anxious and overwhelmed
When a Vata is stressed, they tend to feel overwhelmed and anxious. This may manifest as a full-blown panic attack the morning of a holiday dinner, or as a sudden need to leave the party and take a breather. As Vata is the Dosha of extreme, the reaction and coping mechanisms can be extreme as well. They aren’t drama queens – it’s really that intense being a Vata sometimes! If you can avoid taking their stress personally and be a stable, loving rock, they might be able to bounce back. Otherwise, let them take space if they need it. Knowing Vata, they might be back in 10 minutes, anyway!
The more delicate constitution prone to illness
Since Vata fluctuates easily and is so light and inherently cold in nature, they are more prone to illness. Given the holiday season aligns with the cold and flu season, there’s a good chance they will be down for some of the festivities. Vatas also tend to take on a lot of social engagements as part of their extreme nature, which can tire them out. If you are planning to host a Vata after a long run of their season, you may be the engagement they can’t make.
During Vata season, Vata folks have it rough
It’s important to be mindful of the seasonal impact on the Doshas. Winter (cold and dry season) is the Vata season – there’s more air and ether in the atmosphere. This means Vata can increase in all individuals, which can send those who already are Vata-dominant or imbalanced in Vata over the edge.
Pitta Dosha-dominant individuals are quick-witted, sharply observant and sometimes a bit intense.
The master planners
If you need a plan, Pittas are your gurus. Pittas has the fire and the will to plan and execute. You know it’s an event hosted by a Pitta when you feel their fire reaching for you! If you’re the host, a Pitta may step in and try to plan your party. They can’t help it! They love it! And planning is not pure logic, as much as Pittas want it to be. They are emotional about it, which makes confronting any planning tension feel intimidating. You can empower a Pitta by giving them a planning task – they’ll love you for it! And if their constant need to plan drives you nuts, just let them know you need to discuss it later or get back to them and be specific about when or how. They are detail and task-oriented, so clarity always wins.
Controlling is living
If you need something done and can’t handle it yourself, ask a Pitta for help and they’ll gladly take the reins. Some Pitta-dominant folks don’t know the difference between living and controlling life. If your partner drives you crazy with commanding your platters, displays, and place settings, or just redoing them entirely without asking, it’s ok to ask them to back off. Just try to avoid going on the defensive or raising your voice, even if you’re hurt. When confronting a Pitta, do so sweetly and gently. They need to be reminded to step out of the head and into the heart.
Competition and sharp communication
Pittas are naturally competitive in life and conversation. This is a fantastic fire when everyone is working and vibing together. Pittas get it done and step it up! They’re passionate and engaging in conversation. But Pittas usually can’t help but step outside their lane or turn a conversation into a debate. Two Pittas in a heated argument is a sizzle fest. Sometimes it helps to let the Pitta take the win if it means peace can ensue. If you need to remain engaged in a heated situation with a Pitta, you’ll get along better by reverting to sweet and gentle. Fiery words are like alcohol on a blaze.
The hunger is real
Pittas need to eat regularly or they get cranky. One way to help manage your own Pitta Dosha, or someone else’s, is to ensure there is a constant supply of meals and snacks. Sweets are also Pitta-pacifying. Remember, sweet and gentle.
Alcohol feeds the flames
Drinking is more common during holiday gatherings, which can contribute to Pitta imbalances. Alcohol is like liquid fire and remember Pitta Dosha is composed of mostly fire. Alcohol can make a Pitta hot both physically and emotionally. This is why fights tend to break out more when alcohol is involved. Alcohol in the body increases Pitta Dosha, elevating fiery emotions like anger. You can’t make the choice to minimize drinking for others, but you can encourage them to take breaks or slow down.
Individuals with predominantly Kapha Dosha are more quiet, laid back and sentimental. Their attitude is to “go with the flow.”
Soft, shy, and stable
Kapha Dosha is earthy and watery, like the earth herself. Individuals with Kapha as a predominant Dosha tend to be calm and loving. However, they can also be quiet or shy about expressing it. If you haven’t heard the words themselves, don’t underestimate someone who is Kapha-dominant. Their love may be quiet, but it is steady and burns strongly.
The slower moving endurers
Kaphas often get a bad reputation for being “lazy.” While it’s true that Kapha-dominant individuals tend to move more slowly and produce less in short amounts of time, their energy is still invaluable. When others burn out more quickly, Kaphas are still standing. You sometimes just need to specifically ask them and communicate about what you need, because they’ll otherwise just be chilling.
Kaphas are the stable rocks we can all lean on, and they are happy to be there and listen. Because they tend towards quietness and shyness, they are likely to “go with the flow.” They often serve as peacemakers in groups, are instrumental in conflict resolution, and in general, are usually catalysts to help us all get along better.
Less friendly to change
While Vata is the Dosha of movement and Pitta is that of conversion, Kapha is more about stability and cohesion. Kapha individuals are thus often resistant to change, as it feels unnatural. This can happen in any life situation. Kaphas are the ones hoarding old magazines that “clearly” should be thrown out, or the ones insisting the milk should be fine and not to throw it out. When it comes to the holidays, they are the ones who are most likely to stick to traditions and routines. Their resistance to change isn’t just out of a desire for comfort. It is also combined with their inherently nostalgic nature. The old ways are attached to memories and vivid feelings for a Kapha. If change is needed, highlighting an emotional benefit is more likely to resonate with a Kapha than a logistical one.
5 steps to embrace your Ayurvedic personality lens and get along better with everyone
Do you recognize yourself in some of the qualities listed above? Do you recognize others? We encourage you to reread this article a few times to help the qualities sink in. Then put these tips into practice to get along better with everyone!
Step into the “observer” mode and allow yourself to notice when Vata, Pitta, or Kapha Doshas show up – in you, or others.
Acknowledge it’s a Dosha thing, not personal
Rarely are situations personal. When we don’t take things personally, it’s easier to get along better. Understanding the Doshas can help to reinforce that.
If you’re in a tense situation, respond based on the Dosha involved
Engage with the energy of the Doshas as they appear. When a Vata quality of forgetfulness shows up, you can be more forgiving. If a Pitta planning challenge occurs, you know that being specific and detailed in your responses can settle the situation. And if a Kapha hasn’t said the words you want to hear, you can remember they are naturally less expressive and feel insecure to say it first.
It’s always tempting to “figure out” what someone’s constitution is, and you may start to make some great guesses in this process. Whether or not the qualities you recognize in yourself, or others, are part of the constitution or imbalances doesn’t particularly matter when it comes to coexisting peacefully. While the constitution qualities are more constant, you’ll have them your entire life, qualities of imbalance can pop up anytime. We’re all made up of the three Doshas, and prone to expressing any of the above qualities. Now, you can better see them and understand how to appreciate them and get along better with everyone this holiday season.