This blog is following appropriately after my discussion about Why Are Mother's a Good Target Market?. This book came timely as a grappled with sharing that blog 4 months after it was written. I worried about offending people. I worried about expectations. I worried about my accountability to myself and others. I wrote this after reading a book which helped me understand why.
Have you ever tried to start a healthy habit but struggled? Do you make New Year's Resolution only to fail? I certainly have in the past. The reasons for my failure however are likely different than yours.
I recently took a quiz to determine my personal tendency. This quiz was designed by New York Times Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin. No, this isn't some validated personality measure as per a randomized controlled double blind study. Yet, if you read her book Better Than Before, you realize that it is based on published research, personal experience, interviews and well..... a lot of thoughtful analysis.
This book was a Lightning Bolt for me. Gretchen describes the Lightning Bolt as something that transforms habits by the power of knowldege, beliefs, and ideas. It is something that happens to us, you aren't able to plan it on purpose. Yet, when they happen, habit changes often occur spontaneously.
Needless to say, her book is about how to better your life with postive habits. How to become successful with habit changes is entirely dependent on understanding yourself. I wholeheartedly agree with this. Additionally, it also explains why no one single strategy works for each person as we are all different even if we have commonalities.
Gretchen designed the four tendencey quiz to aid others to help identify themselves in order to help them understand how to support his/her own positive habit change, but also to aid those who work with others to help them make postive lifestyle changes (coach, therapist, doctor, parent).
The four tendencies that Gretchen has identified and defined are:
Upholders: respond readily to outer and inner expectations (habit changes tend to be easier for these folks)
Questioners: question all expectations and will meet expectations only if they believe it's justified(they ask why and require information to make decisions)
Obligers: respond readily to outward expectations but struggle to meet inner expections (think accountability groups)
Rebels: resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
Based on her analysis, the most common are Obligers and Questioners. This makes alot of sense as I evaluate the health movement and the many different books and groups available that target mothers especially (Kia Fit, Beachbody, other "pyramid" like businesses). Maybe because many mother's are obligers since they tend to be people pleasers. The least common personal tendencies are Upholders and Rebels.
As I have been blogging over the past few years, I have been sharing my personal experiences in order to potentially connect to others that may relate, I have researched specifc topics to defend the science for the reccomendations in hopes that some of the medical community may be swayed, and I have even discussed human nature in order to become more aware.
What I found most interesting about the Four Tendencies, is I really began to understand why my tactics have failed in certain cases but were successful in others. The scientific based research I present often is helpful for Questioners to make habit changes...or it leads to more questions and resistance to habit change. Upholders may read the research and translate them to life being internally motivated and I would never know. And this same information is NOT effective for Obligers who often need accountability plans either internal or extrenal driven. Rebels, well, if they feel restricted would simply do the opposite of what I reccomend.
You may wonder what I scored....the most rare and troublesome....REBEL.
As I have sat with this and re-taken the test I tend to toggle between Questioner and Rebel, but mostly Rebel. Maybe this is why "paleo" worked for me because it went against almost all traditional reccomendations yet was based in science. This finding suprised me, I am not going to lie. I actually lost sleep over it. Yet, one of the things I love about the SOAR principles is it feels like it gives me freedom to choose the best path for me rather than restrict me. This would also explain some of my past exepreiences and current struggles. I do have difficulty with excessive criticism or praise (expectations) and so I often rebel against the things that carry heavy expectations of me for fear of not meeting them. I have had trouble with dissapointing friends in the past (an expectation problem I think). I don't like being told what to do...yet I like to follow rules when sensible and especially when safety is involved which is un-Rebel like. Even my professional physical therapy certification in Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment from the McKenzie Institute is rather fitting for my Rebel-Questioner nature. Robin McKenzie was rather ostrasized during my PT training as his system was hardly mentioned during training as if it was just too simple. At one point, as I interviewed with clinics for a job I was told this system was "too effective" and not fitting into their practice model, which made me actually hold stronger to my training. I am proud of my certification and maybe it is because it is "different" by following simple and sensible rules. I am proud to be part of an organization that is taking pride in producing some good research to validate this strategy (satisfies my Questioner nature). Or maybe all this Rebel tendency is all new because I turned 40 this year and no longer care....I digress....
My husband is not suprisingly an Obliger. As anyone knows, he is true to his word as he is driven to meet outer expectations. That was simply lucky for me as he initially went along with my rebel-lead on how we ate at home given enough family expectations. Yet, he struggles to take care of himself because he would give of himself before taking care of himself. I have atually admired this about him. He knows how to put others first over himself...yet a frustration for me at the same time. He works on accountability strategies to make caring for himself a habit and it seems to be working. Sometimes I am the accountability, but alas I am a rebel...so who knows what I am going to do - haha.
In the end, Better Than Before is worth a read for anyone embarking on healthy lifestyle habits if not NECESSARY.
"Know yourself" -Gretchen Rubin
The rate-limiting step for developing a healthy habit is solely to "know yourself" first. Only then can you ask the questions you need to understand why, or join the FB group that will help keep you working out regularly, or ask for help from a trusted source willing to use reverse psychology to keep the rebel in you on track.
This new found knowledge will help me continue to foster healthy habits with the appropriate support in my life yet maybe more important is it helps me understand how to help others to develop healthy habits that stick.
What are your personal tendencies?
Take the quiz here.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove ignorance about your personal tendencies.
Replace with owning your tendecies so you can modify to make healthy habit changes. Read Better than Before. Choose the habit and support that fits your tendencies over guessing and wasting valuable time and energy.
Restore the life you dream to have.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Soar On.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.