I’ve thought hard about why I wanted to write this post. I was worried that I wanted to write it to ‘fix’ people, to offer suggestions in order to come up with some complex Recovery Theory of Everything to make myself look or feel good… I also don’t want anyone to think that I am aiming this particularly at them personally – I am honestly not. I hope I am trying to convey my understanding of what I have seen in LOTS of online interactions, where accountability to a coach, a forum or any organised group does not help the individual – in fact, quite the opposite.
My starting point for this was reading Gretchen Rubin’s personality model of The Four Tendencies, in which she categorises people according to how they react to outer and inner expectations. you can read about it and take the quiz here, if you like, which will describe you as an Upholder, an Obliger, a Questioner, or a Rebel. I loved this model when I first came across it because it seemed to explain so much about myself. if you have been reading this blog for a while you will know I adore a good graph, a good system.
I now think it can be a helpful starting point to understand ourselves, but that we all have aspects of each of the personality type within ourselves, and it can be hugely over-simplistic to say blithely that we are merely one of them. also what we are feels ‘normal’ and it can sometimes only be when we compare ourselves with others that we see differences. for example, I am definitely NOT a Questioner so when it comes the time to choose a holiday, or buy a new car, I am NOT the one in our family who spends three weekends in a row exhaustively reviewing all the options 😉
the other thing that the model skips out is that I believe it does not account for addiction (of course, Rubin never intended that it should). in addiction one does not merely resist inner and outer expectations, as in the Rebel category – one is unable to meet inner or outer expectations, because the addiction is in the driving seat AND riding shotgun.
Wolfie and Mrs Wolfie, out for a drive.
so in fact until addiction is out of the picture, it is tricky to assess one’s own true self, one’s own true preferences.
however, accepting the limitations of the model for the moment, where does it leave those who actively resist outer expectations but who want to get sober? if a person is not the sort of person who would derive support from a slimming class in order to lose weight, why do we expect them to use peer or coaching support in order to stop drinking? and I use the term ‘expect’ carefully because I know full well I have a raging case of confirmation bias myself, having successfully used Belle’s 100 day programme to get sober and that therefore it is easy for me to trill annoyingly, “ask for support!” and then shrug in bewilderment when either the person doesn’t ask for support, or they do ask, and it doesn’t work for them.
Rubin has a new book out in September about the Four Tendencies and I expect she will expand on such matters in that book. from what she has suggested already, I anticipate that she will say that for Rebels the concepts of freedom and identity are the most important, so that if those can be brought into play – for example, as an over-drinker, turning that rebellion into a desire not to be manipulated and controlled by Big Alcohol – then the person can drive change in that way.
ok throwing this open now – any thoughts on all this? in particular –
- do you think that categories like this are helpful, or unhelpful?
- if you felt drawn to doing the test, what category did you fall into, and how did that make you feel?
- and, most importantly, if you identify as one of the two categories who resist outer expectation – the Questioners and the Rebels – how has that influenced the way you have either got sober, or are finding it difficult to get sober? do you have any recommendations for others who share such qualities?
I am aware that people who resist or do not need outer accountability may be the least likely to be reading sober blogs, likely to take a quiz or to answer questions about it 🙂 that’s the joy of us all being different, yes?!
have a smashing day, and don’t let anyone put you in a box if you don’t want to be in one!
pretty sure I’m the one on the bottom right in this gif.