It's taking me awhile to complete because I find every chapter gives me food for thought on how I function. Part of the reason I've been such a connoisseur of self-help books is that I am flat-out terrible at follow through. I did have a successful go at a New Year's resolution list way back in 2003, but since then it's been a downhill slump. (I wish I had kept that list. It included: eat more cheese, learn to drink tea, learn prayers in Latin, drink more water.)
There are lots of reasons why I'm terrible at keeping plans, even plans I make for myself. I have a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder because three years ago I found myself unable to do my work, despite genuine interest and knowledge of what I was doing. It was creating a lot of friction between my boss and I, to say the least, and I was feeling increasingly helpless. I was also feeling the creep of a perpetual bad mood, so I found myself in therapy with a wonderful ex-Buddhist monk and got slapped with the anxiety diagnosis as well. Considering my family history, it was not too surprising. When I returned for a consult after going on medication, I reported that it "felt effortless to be cheerful." Clearly there was something bigger going on that was beyond my willpower.
The ADD diagnosis, though, I find myself on the fence. When I need to work I take medication, but otherwise it's just a facet of my personality. In fact, the "disorder" part of it bothers me. I maintain that the only reason why it's a problem is that I live in a society where specialization is highly valued. My brain is no good at sustained high focus. It is excellent at doing several things at once. This is why I was able to get through high school and college with decent grades while still being sociable and having multiple jobs. When it came time for a job where I did the same thing for hours upon end, a job where I work largely alone and that involves significant mental focus, my brain got busted. I've been trying to figure out how to trick it ever since.
Back to Gretchen Rubin. Her particular brand of personality profiling revolves around tendencies, specifically how one reacts to expectations and requests. There are four: Upholders, Obligers, Questioners, Rebels.
The "You Might Be A Rebel" list goes a little like this:
- If someone asks or tells me to do something, I often have the impulse to refuse. Keyword here is impulse; I often have to fight that impulse.
- Other people sometimes become frustrated because I won't do what they want me to do. God help you if you ask me more than once.
- I enjoy a challenge as long as I choose to accept it and can tackle it in my own way.
- If I'm expected to do something, even something fun, I have the urge to resist: the expectation takes the fun out of an activity that I enjoy. See also: why I hate theme parks and most holidays.
As I read, the insights keep stacking up. With people I've decided I like/trust/respect, I am an Obliger. If you've displeased me in some way, or I think your reasoning is questionable, I will Question the hell out of you.
A few days ago I mentioned how I'm not into excuses. Little did I know how prescient I was being. I read tonight -- "Rebels don't make excuses to justify doing what they want."
Maybe prescient is the wrong word. My self-awareness about how I function is kicking in. I'm better able to identify what I'm doing when I react rather than assume I'm going on some sort of weird autopilot. I'm enjoying the self analysis by reading this book. Things are making sense to me. More on it later.