The Four Tendencies and You

Jun 10, 2020

Every day, throughout the day, we make hundreds of thousands of choices. Things to do, things not to do, how to do them… the list is endless.

And sometimes, especially in our neverending role as mothers, not everything actually gets done. Sometimes you know why, and sometimes, you may feel inadequate, or incapable, or might even just wonder if you’re plain lazy.

But that’s why understanding what your tendency is isn’t just a “typification”. Understanding what your tendency is can enable you to jump over the “why can’t I just do it” hurdle, drop the judgment, and just be able to be your best self.


Mothering as an Upholder

If you are an Upholder, you can run your house and mother very effectively and efficiently -- if you give yourself the structure to do it.

Since Upholders tend to find it easiest to carry through with tasks when they have clear instructions on how to do it, you may want to find a parenting technique that speaks to you and will give you a clear plan on how to do things.

For household tasks, break things down into step-by-step pieces so you don’t feel lost and overwhelmed by an endless task, but instead have a plan of what to do so it’s easy for you to follow and follow through.

Use your natural strength to create routines for yourself and for your children -- our children just soak them up, and they can make your home run smoothly and make things easier for all of you.

But, be aware of your tendency to get rigidly stuck in rules when parenting and running your house.

Remember that flexibility may not come naturally to you, but “what worked” with one child, or in one stage of life (i.e. when all your kids were babies) may not work farther down the road (such as when you have school-aged kids, as well as babies). Keep your eyes open for that natural rigidity, and give yourself a new system if the old one isn’t working.

Also, keep an eye out for expecting too much of yourself. As an Upholder, you’ll be more likely to take on more expectations than you can actually handle, and may end up pushing yourself too far (and not taking care of your most important asset -  yourself! - in the process).

If you are not an Upholder but have a friend or relative that is, remember that there is no one tendency that is “better” or “worse”. The fact that she finds it easier to get things done or follow through, though, doesn’t mean anything about you.


Mothering as an Obliger

While we're all subject, to some extent, to peer pressure, and can spin it in our favor, an Obliger will have that in even larger doses.

Meeting others’ needs -- your husband, your kids, your boss -- is generally pretty easy as an Obliger.

What you’ll likely find you come up against, though, is taking care of the most important person: yourself. 

Experiment to find what will work best for you to ensure you’re meeting your physical and emotional needs. Will writing something up on the wall or on a calendar work for you? Setting up an accountability buddy - a sister/friend, or even your husband? Having a checklist?

Perhaps being part of a group will best help meet your needs?

If you are not an Obliger, but have a friend or relative who is, remember that she’s not “being lazy”; she may just need some external support to help her meet her goals.


Mothering as a Questioner

As a Questioner, you’ll be able to carry out tasks with the self-direction of an Upholder, reliability of an Obliger, and authenticity of a Rebel -- as long as what you’re doing makes sense to you. 

Because there are so many unknowns in parenting, you may be drawn to read, research, speak to people, etc. to figure out what the “right” thing is to do. However, there is no one “right” answer, and that can cause many Questioners to fall into the Questioners’ biggest trap: analysis paralysis.

To prevent yourself from becoming frozen, you can draw on the strength of being a Questioner: asking yourself “why?” Why do you need to continue to research this?

Or, perhaps there is an expert you trust, and you’ll follow his or her advice on this topic. 

If you are not a Questioner, but have a friend or relative who is, remember that she’s not “being difficult” in asking so many questions: she just needs to understand why so that she can turn an external expectation into an internal one, and easily fulfill that expectation.


Mothering as a Rebel

“A Rebel on a mission is a force of nature, a superstar. No need for checklists, for routines, rules, or habits to get things done. The need to find a cause, something to truly believe in and fight for, is vital.” (The words of one Rebel, as quoted by Rubin in her book.)

What do you LOVE? What can you feel passionate about, believe in, “fight” for?

If you are a rebel, getting yourself to do tasks you see as drudgery or mundane will be difficult (which, yes, may result in mountains of dishes in the sink because “well, ‘they say’ I need my sink to be empty, but I don’t have to do it.”).

But once you’re fired up about something, you can do it -- astonishingly well. The good news? Motherhood comes along with an internal fire: your passionate love for the baby you’ve birthed. Use that as your fuel to find your path as a mother. 

If you find it difficult to consistently do the mundane household chores (that, yes, do need to get done at some point), try challenging yourself to give you a positive way to push back against an expectation.

While Rebels can find it difficult to stick to a schedule or routine, you can find the freedom even in those aspects of meeting your children’s needs: sticking to an age-appropriate schedule for your children will mean that you have more flexibility to do what you want -- say, when your baby is in bed for the night.

What can you start doing today to harness your tendency?

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