Have you ever been perplexed by the things that you want to do but can’t bring yourself to do consistently? Maybe there were activities that you used to do when you were younger and now, even though you want to do them, for the life of you, you can’t seem to get them done.
Yoga has been that kind of on and off again practice for me over the last 22 years. I know it’s good for me. I know I feel better after doing it. I even know I like to do yoga and I like knowing myself as a practicing yogi person. I know that I feel better in my body and my mind is more at peace. I remember to breathe more deeply. I know that it’s as simple as picking up my yoga mat and rolling it out, in other words showing up to the mat. But simple isn’t always easy.
What has us show up to something? Social invitations, fitness activities, shopping, travelling or eating? If it’s not in the category of there’s a strong biological need, then how do we ever get anything done? It seems to be a case where knowing that we like it, knowing that it’s good for us, knowing all the things, makes no difference to us actually doing it.
I recently did Gretchen Rubin’s quiz on the 4 tendencies. If you’re like me, you love these personality profile tests. I collect them like butterflies. I love anything that brings more self-awareness so that I can stay empowered and be of service to others. Plus I love the whole ride of self-discovery. Gretchen Rubin has distinguished 4 tendencies that we fall into when it comes to expectations. These tendencies are not a full personality test, but they do help to give you insight into the why behind how you relate to outer expectations and inner expectations. Outer expectations often come from other people in the form of requests, work from your boss or are an agreement in society such as wearing seatbelts. Inner expectations are the expectations you have of yourself ie. to lose weight or to start a new art practice. We all have these expectations but what’s fascinating about Gretchen’s work is how we relate to these expectations and therefore how we respond to them.
For instance, if you are an Obliger, you operate best when you have external expectations of you and left to your own devices, you’re unlikely to follow through on the expectations you have of yourself. This is good news! It means you can put in structures, accountability, coaches, external scaffolding to support you in doing the things you want to do. Many people have this tendency and it doesn’t mean anything bad about who you inherently are – remember, it’s not a full personality test, it only provides insight into your relationship with expectations.
If you’re a Questioner, then you will need to understand the WHY, the reasons to do something that someone else is expecting from you, before you’ll do it. Again, a great insight to have. It’s also a great insight to have if your partner is a Questioner, as I discovered this week. Earlier in the week, I’d asked Chris to find out the balance of their UK student loan. Pretty simple request I thought. Days went by and they still hadn’t done it. I was itching to find out because I love seeing our debts go down and our savings go up and this is part of what has me be excited about doing anything to do with our finances. When I eventually broached the request with them, I realised that they needed to understand the reason why, before they would take action by themselves. I told them that I needed to know so I could work out how much of our money we could put into their top surgery savings as an additional amount this week. As soon as they got the WHY, they were in action and got me all the data I needed on the spot. Many people are also Questioners.
Not as many are Upholders. I am. I typically am quick to comply with both external and internal expectations and I don’t always care about the why behind it. It just seems simpler to me to take the path of least resistance and get on with other things I care about. Upholders can get frustrated with other people who don’t do things or do what they said they would do. Why can’t they just get it done or do it just because they said they would? This has been so useful for me to understand both in my business, as a step-parent and as a partner. Now I’m trying to pick people’s tendencies around me (my friends know about this) or asking them to do the quiz so I can understand how we can work together and be empowered. The jury is still out for me regarding what our 5-year-old daughter’s tendency is. I can’t decide if she’s also a Questioner like Chris or whether she’s a Rebel which is the 4th tendency. Either way, it’s been super helpful for me to understand when she resists doing something and how to help her navigate through things she doesn’t want to do in the moment but has an agreement to do (it could be anything from brushing her hair or going to school or doing her jobs for her pocket money!).
The one thing I’d like to dig a little deeper into as an Upholder is how to support myself in doing the things that I resist, avoid or procrastinate with – because of course I still do all of those things. If you’re also an Upholder, I’d love to hear your tips.
And if you do the quiz, I’d love to hear your results!
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