Our Tendencies

I was listening to Gretchen Rubin talk about the four tendencies of people- upholder, questioner, obliger and rebel. She contends that we are born with a specific one and just influenced by our other traits and our circumstances. She defines these as follows:

Upholder- meets both external and internal expectations

Questioner- resists outer expectations meets inner expectations

Obliger- meets external expectations resists inner expectations

Rebel- resists expectations altogether

It is important to know what your tendency is so you can be mindful of both it’s strengths and weaknesses. Most of the time its strength is also its weakness. Listening to the conversation I realised that I am an upholder even without taking the quiz. One key indicator of this tendency is rigidity when it comes to meeting expectations, both of the self and of others. For me this manifests as keeping to a set program sometimes even if it does not make sense anymore. I’ve just been more aware of this over the past years and have tried to manage by constantly asking why I need to carry on with it.

Knowing what people’s tendencies are also helps in dealing with them. I saw this in action a couple of nights ago as I witnessed my daughter’s ultra upholder meltdown. She is an extreme version of me and her diligence and conscientiousness are truly exemplary. She suddenly bawled after realising that she could not finish a book she committed to reading that night. I had to reassure her that she can always change the book into something shorter so she can finish the book task for the day. She too didn’t have to take the quiz to prove that she was a true blue upholder.

It may seem limiting to be defined to have this tendency but this is just a small part of one’s personality. It still encompasses a whole spectrum within the tendency, possibly even overlapping with the others and melds with our other characteristics as well as our context. What is clear is the need to be constantly mindful of how we are and how we interact with the world.

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