A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of August 19-25, 2015
Journey of discovery
My inbox yielded an email about “understanding the 4 personality types for a happier relationship.” Following the link, I discovered that it’s about a book called “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives” by Gretchen Rubin. Her two previous books, “The Happiness Project” and “Happier At Home” were both New York Times bestsellers.
While a critic called Rubin’s latest offering as “secular self-help lite,” we can still use the findings of self-professed “street scientist” Rubin so that we can help ourselves become “better.” Rubin is saying that at the bottom of behavioral change are habits, and before we can begin to work on our habits, we need to identify our tendencies. After doing that, we can then make use of the strategies in the book. According to Rubin’s blog about the four types in her book, “Better Than Before”:
“If you need a quick overview of the Four Tendencies: In a nutshell, it distinguishes how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution). Your response to expectations may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very, very important.
Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations.
Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations.
Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves.
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.” (https://gretchenrubin.com/…/ta-da-the-launch-of-my-quiz-on…/
According to Rubin’s research, the most number of people are Obligers, and the least number are Rebels. Therefore, based on the quiz you are supposed to take, found within the book or on her website, you can find out which tendency you have and how best you can form habits that will support and empower you.
Astrologically speaking, it’s hard for me not to see parallels between the “four tendencies” and the “four elements” of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. The Fire element is all about energy, action, assertiveness, and passion. When Fire signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius say they’re going to do something, for themselves or for others, they usually follow through. So I tend to liken them to the “Upholders” in Rubin’s tendencies. A Fire sign can commit to a volunteer civic gig for the long-term, showing up religiously each week, yet he also does not neglect the agreement he made with himself to continue his office work, physical fitness regimen, and journal writing in preparation for his novel.
The Earth element is all about discipline, effort, limits, and solidity. When Earth signs Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are faced with an expectation, they will meet it if they think it makes sense, and then internalizes that expectation. For example, doubting the effectiveness of a new scheduling system at work, an Earth sign may be the first to question it, being the conservative person that she is with a tendency to resist any change. Once the boss explains the advantages of the new system and convinces the Earth sign, our “Questioner” will adopt the change and align her inner systems accordingly. As long as it makes sense, the Questioner has no trouble complying with the changes.
The Water element is about sensitivity, compassion, idealism, and faith. When Water signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are faced with an expectation, their reaction is that of an Obliger. They have no problem meeting outer limits like deadlines and to-do lists, but when it comes to their personal resolutions, the lines get a little blurry. For example, a Water sign may comply with all the necessary requirements in his workplace, but may overlook the necessary requirements of his own physical health by eating junk food during lunch or not exercising like he frequently told himself he would. Smoking and drinking may be some hard habits to break.
Lastly, we have Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, the Air signs. The Air element is about independence, originality, reform, and rebellion. It’s no wonder that I ascribe to them the tendency of being a Rebel. Like it says in the description, Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. It may be very challenging to find an inner and outer system to which a Rebel would respond. Far from stereotyping the Rebel as the freedom fighter or a highly individualistic artist, we actually find that there are actually a lot less Rebels than, say, Obligers, in our community. It’s just one of those quirks of society, and perhaps we are far the better for it, since we may not be able to maintain order with too many disruptions. But then, hey, that’s just me, who took the quiz and found myself to be an Upholder. If you follow the link above, it can take you to the quiz so you can find out for yourself if you’re an Obliger, Upholder, Questioner, or Rebel.
Finding out which of the “Four Tendencies” you do have is merely the first step in helping yourself develop habits that are life-affirming and in tune with society. Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before,” is an informative, insightful read worth your while. Here is a recap:
Upholder: meets outer expectations, meets inner expectations (Fire)
Obliger: meets outer expectations, resists inner expectations (Water)
Questioner: resists outer expectations, meets inner expectations (Earth)
Rebel: resists outer expectations, resists inner expectations (Air)
Now who would you nominate to represent each of the Four Tendencies in your life? Where do you belong among the four? How can you help yourself, loved ones, and friends better? Good luck on your journey of discovery!
Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: email@example.com