I'm going on a hiatus

A couple of weeks ago I had, well... an interesting week.  Monday was great, I wrote an entire post about over coming over thinking, I got stuff done, everything was good.

 Then Tuesday rolled around and I went on a rollercoaster.  I went to go get a breast ultrasound done and unexpectedly had a mammogram as well.  At about the mid point, I started to lose my cool and almost had a hysterical fit just prior to the mammogram.  If you've ever had these tests done for reasons other than routine screening, you will understand that they are stressful and it's scary.  In my case I was facing my fears over some changes that had occurred in my body and had been ignoring for a number of months.  This was me being responsible about my health, facing reality and getting myself checked out.  But I didn't realize that it was going to be such an ordeal.  Even booking the tests brought about a good amount of psychic distress, and after bursting into hysterical tears of terror in the car after my appointment, I went home, took the rest of the day off and really pondered the concept of looking at self care as more of a continual process of self preservation.  Everything I did for the remainder of the day was about self preservation.

On Wednesday I planned to take it easy, but still ended up doing some chores, meal planning & grocery shopping.  In other words, it was a typical day.

 Thursday was fun.  By this point I'd been considering resolving my need to over-think for almost a week and the time felt ripe for me to really lay it to rest. I realized that whatever groundwork I covered and wrote about earlier in the week was a load of garbage, a product of my mind over thinking and trying to protect itself.  So I started afresh and ended up going on a deep dive journey to the heart of the matter.  For the record, my need to over-think, my inability to make decisions for myself or to engage in self supporting habits (and other things), stems from a belief that I am not supposed to be here.  As in, I'm simply not supposed to exist, so why should I try?   Pretty deep and per usual, totally made sense to me in the context of my life so far.   It was beautifully resolved that day and without a doubt things changed immediately.

 On Friday at about 1:10 in the morning I woke up, my throat was on fire and it was extremely painful to swallow.  This ripened into a full-blown flu that had me in bed sleeping for five and a half days.  All Friday I was thinking "I gotta write my blog post, I gotta do my newsletter... " But I simply could not be upright for more than 15 minutes without feeling like I was going to fall over.  All I was capable of doing was getting horizontal and closing my eyes.   This continued for a few days.

 I remember sitting there on Friday morning, feeling how exhausted my body was and really peacefully accepting it.  I surrendered in that moment to the needs of my body without thought, something I had never done before.  There would be no attempt to force myself to do anything and I was cool with that.  I see this as a personal triumph although it shouldn't be, but after a lifetime of ignoring my body or forcing it against it's ability, this was huge.

 I kept putting off my writing till later, thinking that maybe I might be feeling well enough to do it later on.   This clearly did not happen!  By Sunday I was thinking, what if I just don't do it? And there was a little voice inside of me that said: I don't want to do it, to which I said: alright.



That's the nutshell version.  A bunch of things occurred to me either slightly before, or while I was in and out of my comatose state and further this week as I recover.  They have all been swirling around in there, each a topic I could speak on individually, but then they coalesced into a picture that brought me to my decision to just stop what I'm doing and chill out for a bit.  Here is my attempt to share:

1.  After 6 months of diving deep into my psyche to resolve, release and otherwise take down the false structures that have been ruling my life (let's call it internal architecture bulldozing), I am now entering the rebuilding phase of my life.  Right after I cleared up that need to over-think I just got this feeling that I was done.  That I was done cleaning up that garbage and now the door to everything wanted was unlocked, I just had to walk through it and start to make things happen.  I really feel ready and able now to start making real changes in my life that I was unable to conceive before.  I am ready to build a new life from the ground up.   I feel flexible and embodied in a new way now.  I'm starting to entertain new possibilities that are exciting me.  It's time for the next stage of my life.

2.  I am more or less burnt out on many levels.  I know it's easy to say that when you have the flu and can't physically do anything, but hear me out.  My capacity has slowly been declining for some time.  My inspiration and enthusiasm have been waning.  I feel physically run down and my body is in a bad way, being inflamed often, and often I have a day of flu like symptoms that just randomly descends and disappears just as quickly.  The glands in my throat are swollen up more often than not...  But the most telling sign is that I often think about stuff I want to do, but just cannot imagine how I can fit it into my life, not because I'm busy, but because I don't have the energetic capacity for it.  Like I can only do one thing per day and even that I do slowly/feebly. I understand now that I've just been treading water for so long, this lack of capacity for life just crept up on me without me noticing.  But it is not normal and there is so much more that I could be doing with my life.  This delicate balancing act I have been engaged in, where I have just enough self care to match my demands, but nothing more just isn't going to cut it anymore.  That brings me to my next point...

3. I have never had a good routine of self care, even at a basic level, due to the many beliefs that got in the way of me taking even the most basic care of myself.  These beliefs looked like: I'm not supposed to exist, I'm unlovable, I’m not worthy etc.  I have also been unable to care for myself because of beliefs that I must put others before me for simple survival reasons.  There was a denial of needs because it's inconvenient for other people, a belief that I couldn't physically take care of myself, a belief that I had to be punished, and that there had to be something wrong with me because other people wouldn't make the effort to love me... the list goes on.  The point is there has been a tremendous amount of self-rejection, denial and inability to love myself at the bottom of all this which has now shifted immensely.  It is now time for me to work on creating a foundation of habits where I cultivate not only self preservation but also my sense of self, my identity, my pride and so on.  This is the area that I'm embarking on full force starting next week.

4. When I made the decision to create a blog, then a newsletter and later a website, I was doing it because I thought I had to, not necessarily because I wanted to.  Now thanks to acknowledging that little voice that said I didn't want to write a post, and considering my next steps forward in life, I'm questioning if it is something I want to continue to do at all.  At certain times I have really enjoyed writing and sharing my journey and the things that I have learned, but where once I was inspired to write I am falling more and more into writing because of obligation category and I'm resenting it a bit. Also writing does take my energy and with my capacity just slowly draining away, I recognize that right now I need to concentrate on building myself back up to a place where I at least feel inspired to share.  Acting out of love and inspiration is very important to me and who I am. 

5. And finally, even if I decide to continue to write a blog, or continue anything else that I started because I thought I should, I cannot continue to do it as is right now.  I need to start my rebuilding my life, my self care and my identity with a blank slate and that means putting aside what I have started, for a short while or maybe indefinitely.  I don't know what the future holds and I'm not going to predict either way. 

When I put this all together I suddenly felt WAY better about everything.  Like I was off the hook and could finally just do what I wanted, what I felt called or inspired to do.  I've officially decided to put everything down and concentrate on myself for, at a minimum, the next 6 weeks.  I am putting a pause on any effort to post something each week. I'm closing up shop and going on a vacation.  I'm saying yes to myself and taking the much needed time to relax, recuperate, recover from this flu, and prepare for the next phase of my life.  I'm going to work on building up my reserves and putting in place framework to not only preserve myself going forward, but framework to support and concentrate my energies so I can achieve a level of potency of self that I truly desire.  I am really looking forward to it.

I highly doubt I will be going through this time without writing anything since it is just such a huge part of my life.  There are so many things that I want to talk about and share and writing is just my thing, but even in this domain I see an opportunity to put in some useful framework.  A lot of the time there is really no definition between my own personal journaling, especially as I am working through something, and what I want to share with the world.  I hope to gain some concrete definition between the two that is useful to all.  I hope to define my voice a bit more too and get really concrete on what I want to talk about.

 Anyway, here is where I sign off to go take care of myself, which is in my mind the greatest act of self-love a person can do.  This is about laying the groundwork for the rest of my life, as I find and define who I really am.  


What's working, what's not?

Some time ago I made a decision to just write about my experience of life in hopes that my sharing would be an avenue for Divine Intervention, as I like to call it. You know, that spark that ignites a new possibility, that moment when the last piece of information reaches you and puts it all together or illuminates something that makes all the difference, that's divine intervention. 

So I just go about my thing each week and I write about it.  Usually there is a theme each week to my development and it's pretty obvious what I'm going to be writing about early on, but here it is Friday and I'm struggling a bit. I struggled a bit last week as well.  I know what I want to share as far as a constructive exercise, but the story that goes with it has been illusive to me. 

On reflection it's pretty obvious why it's been illusive: I feel like I'm all over the map and I have been all over the map. I've just flagged myself for trying to control things in my life because I'm feeling really unstable and maybe a little directionless. There has been a lot of fear controlling me, especially over the unknown future, which is clearly next on my list to deal with (I expect a post about that will be forth coming). 

I have been having a large amount of desire to change things, not from a controlling perspective but from a sheer desire for an upgraded experience of life. It's time to change my reality.  It's time to change specific things that will impact my health & happiness, but something still hasn't clicked and given me the go ahead. I know enough about myself to know that attempting to muscle my way through right now is not going to be useful or productive or make me feel good. So I'm waiting in a frustrated limbo. 

While in this limbo I have at least been continuing to understand myself better.  I read Gretchen Rubin's book Better Than Before, which is all about habit change as a way to increase happiness, and I binged on her podcast Happier, in order to help me understand myself more and understand how to change but I'm still waiting for that moment of Divine Intervention where I am spurred onwards by inspiration and sudden knowing.

Sometimes being in this space can be really difficult, but I'm getting better at rolling with it, especially thanks to a process that I learned last spring. I was in this totally awesome program that was pretty much designed just to deal with this limbo place of feeling like something needs to change, but not yet knowing what or how to go about it.

Part of the process of that program is what I want to share with you this week. I did this exercise again earlier this week and it has helped screw my head back on and give me some broader perspective. It also helped remind me of where I am in the grander scheme of my personal journey.


Exercise: What's working, what's not?

In order to move forward in the right direction (instead of mentally and physically flailing like I seem to enjoy doing) the most important thing is to figure out where you are now and where you want to go. This exercise helps you figure that out while giving you an opportunity to get present and grateful for what is going good in your life. This is particularly useful for peeps like me who sometimes drown in the morass of what's wrong without seeing the good. 

Take a piece of paper and create two columns, one labelled What's Working and the other What's Not. For each topic listed below, think about it for a moment and jot some notes down in each column about what's working or going well and what's not or needs some improvement.

  • Self Love & Self Care
  • Diet & Nutrition
  • Health
  • Movement & Fitness
  • Hair
  • Beauty & Style
  • Clothes & Accessories
  • Personal Growth & Development
  • Spiritual Life & Growth 
  • Home
  • Work/Career/Business
  • Desk & Office Space
  • Family
  • Partner
  • Children (or fur babies)
  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Life Support System
  • Professional Support System
  • Income & Finances
  • Hobbies & Fun & Spare Time
  • Travel & Adventure
  • Car
  • Other Environments You Spend Time In
  • Mode & Class of transportation (first class comfort or economy?)
  • Possessions (computer, phone,stereo...)
  • Anything Else

Some of these can be hard to answer but really challenge yourself to put something down in each box. Some clearly may not apply and some may seem to overlap a bit but it's important to really look at all the aspects of your life to get a broad perspective. 

This exercise can help you identify something that's really out of balance or desperately needs your attention, or something that might make all the difference. It can also help you identify where you can take small but really impactful action. 

At then end of answering all those questions, ask your highest self (the best and most powerful version of you) what it has to say. This may seem odd but it's a perfect opportunity to get direction or a message that might make all the difference to you. 

My message this week was exactly what I needed to hear.  It really illustrated that I am on a journey and as much as I may be frustrated with where I am now I have come so far and there are still a few things that need to be dealt with before I can really ascend to where I want to be.  It has been necessary for me to take the time to strip away false identity, need to please others , do the "right" thing etc. and to deal with the skeletons in my closet before I can move forward in the world truly being myself. it was just a big fat reminder for me.  The best part was the last little bit that gave me so much relief: You are free to do whatever you want...  Which is exactly why I'm on this journey.


Try out this exercise and let me know how it worked out for you, good or bad.  What kind of perspective did you gain and what did your higher self have to say?

What's your tell that things aren't all good in the hood?

Life has a way of creeping up on us. Even if everything seems pretty good on the outside it doesn't mean everything is hunky dory on the inside.  Paying attention, having a relationship with yourself and knowing your tells is important to happiness, state of mind and mental health. 

I figure it's probably easier to know someone else's tells than your own since you are removed from the immediate drama. My boyfriend has a really obvious one when he's had a bit of a day. Normally a fairly quiet and easy going individual, when he suddenly starts talking and an F-bomb drops I know he's stressed out or had a really frustrating day. Cue for me being a little more attentive and loving. A hot bath, cup of tea and an easy night are the ticket for him, most of which he automatically does himself. I make sure to not pester him with questions, just listen and give him hugs. 

Thinking about this makes me marvel at how easy it seems to be for him to take care of himself and to intrinsically know when he's stressed out. Maybe it's a girl thing, since we are always juggling 5 things in our brain at once, it's not always easy for us to notice our stress, or to surrender and take care of ourselves automatically. 

I'd like to think that I'm getting better at noticing it but still I get surprised sometimes, and then I wonder how I was so oblivious! Earlier in February I made the observation that I might be feeling stressed when I realized in my background thoughts I was getting nostalgic about massage oil and getting a rub down. I would have taken a 5 minute back massage at that point. A 5 minutes massage? Who only wants 5 minutes? Someone who needs comfort and will take whatever she can get! That tipped me off that I was maybe running on empty since I wanted comfort and I took some notes about other behaviours going on that should have been obvious tip offs but weren't. 

  • I was engaging in emotional eating of all kinds, alternating cookies and salt & vinegar potato chips when I wasn't even hungry. That is a never ending spiral of doom.
  • I had this insatiable urge to be doing something, I was unable to sit and relax or be leisurely about anything. Let's be clear, I get up when I want and rarely do I have appointments or deadlines, so there is never any need to be frantic about anything in my life. This need to be in action is absolutely triggered by stress and anxiety over something. 
  • I was not caring for physical body, I was launching into action first thing in the morning, skipping breakfast and feeling like taking a shower etc. was inconvenient. 4 day greasy hair is never acceptable and I was going out in public like that. Not a proud moment, but clearly a sign something was going on.


This week I had further opportunity to notice one of my classic tells: my need to control, change or fix things. I have this habit of deciding I need to fix something (usually myself) out of fear or stress and I will start doing research, and writing plans, and compiling information (like recipes and lists), and it's all very hard in my head. It's like I'm trying to solve a rubix cube with my mind.  There are usually feelings of despair (likely the rational part of me thinking wtf!), much inner turmoil and an inability to see the way forward. Once I noticed it I was relieved (no more need to plan through a problem that I was imagining in my mind) and I could take care of myself in the way that I needed.

It reminded me of another old classic tell of mine that thankfully does come about anymore, but I know I share with others: the furious cleaning of the house! You know, when you go into an internal rant, rehearsing an imaginary conversation, and suddenly furiously cleaning for 4 hours?  Mine usually started in the kitchen, then all the floors, then both of the bathrooms till I would have to stop because I was physically exhausted or having tremendous back pain. I see this as a control behaviour as well, you are trying to control your environment, but what you really need to be doing is acknowledging the stream of thoughts in your brain and wondering what's causing all the angst.

Sure in theory if you could control your environment you could control or limit stressors. But this ignores the fact that you yourself are stressed or depleted in some way and it doesn't help you to relax. The furious cleaning, along with the negative stream of conscious is really depleting when your well is likely low already, not a good situation all around. 


So what I realized about myself this week: I was trying to control/fix stuff, I had some mental turmoil I couldn't seem to get out of and I didn't feel like doing tasks that I normally really enjoy... my well was dry. When this happens I'm not at all resourceful or happy and life just seem hard.  

I don't consider my life to be stressful at all so I don't think that I should really be feeling depleted or have anything to complain about or need comfort for, especially compared to how it used to be.  But the reality is I still have outputs of energy in my life and any output of energy can be stressful or depleting, whether judged good or bad. I engage in regular mental landscaping, which is good, but very stressful and depleting since it usually involves an outpouring of emotion.  Sometimes its pretty obvious that I just need to go take a nap afterwards but other times it's not and I'm just kinda slow.  What i should be doing is making sure I take time to pamper myself and let myself recover before I try to do anything else.  (Resolving right now to make this happen!) But what about the other stuff I do that is seemingly ok or happy? 

Take my writing. I love writing, I do it pretty much daily but until now I have failed to recognize that it is still an outpouring of energy and thoughts. It still drains me, even if I'm just sitting there enjoying myself. So getting up after writing and doing a workout or making dinner or whatever else with no transition or downtime will often wipe me out and I don't even realize it. No wonder I often don't feel inclined to do the stuff I want to, even after I feel like I haven't done anything.  Maybe this is why I've been emotional eating more for the past couple of months.  

I also like to listen to a lot of podcasts and take in other information through reading.  Both seemingly low energy tasks and are always on topics that I enjoy, but the simple act of taking in and assimilating information is taxing to the nervous system.  My typical day, while seeming pretty low key and leisurely, is actually a lot more taxing that I previously thought.  And suddenly things become more clear.

What I need is more pampering or other luxurious, quiet, fulfilling activities that are going to fill up my energy banks again.  I need to rethink what I consider to be stressful or depleting and create a new list of personal resource activities and make sure I'm doing them more frequently.  Just because I might not seem to have a reason to be stressed, doesn't mean it's not happening. Maybe it really is time for a massage...


I guess the whole point of this is to say: think about your life.

  • Do you have particular behaviours that you fall into that tip you off that you might be stressed and in need of pampering? 
  • If nothing seems really bad, think about your energy outputs. Do you spend your entire day pushing things out or stimulating yourself in some way? 
  • And, always worth exploring, in what way can you have some real downtime that's going to fill up your bank? 

You might try making a list of the activities you do in an average day and classify them as input or output. Not surprisingly, my day is practically all outputs, especially when I start factoring in the household related activities I do to keep us running. It's time to make some some adjustments and start making an effort to pamper myself or do some regular adult colouring. 

I'm a Rebel

For the past 9 months I have been full time attending the School of Me. At first I thought it was just me continuing my education to be a holistic health coach in a more informal manner, learning about emotional healing and ways to connect with and accept yourself. But it really became my own journey to understand who I am and to right the wrongs that have held me back from my true expression. 

Throughout this time I have been stripping away expectations of myself and just trying to live in a way that feels good and follows my inspiration, which seems to work the best for me.  I can’t say that it’s been easy and I’ve definitely come face to face with mega baggage.  In fact, I’ve been surprised at how much stuff has been lurking below the surface, but then it’s hardly surprising to me as I go through the process of unpacking it and understanding.  It's been a tumultuous and highly rewarding time in my life that I think everyone should have the opportunity to go through. I have learned so much about myself and what works for me. I have let go of tremendous amounts of internal drama that has been limiting me from full expression and having what I want in life.

There have been a few moments of unbelievable understanding of myself that defy words and logic.  I just had another one that almost sums up all of the things that I have discovered about myself, what works best for me, what I strongly believe in and what I wish to inspire and uphold in the world. 

I am a Rebel. 

To some, this may seem really obvious, but you know how it is…  Especially as a rebel, it’s not like I would have just taken anyones word for it, I needed to experience the understanding in the right timing for myself.  The timing and understanding for this revelation came via Gretchen Rubin’s Podcast Happier.  She is the author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, and is a nerd for human nature, happiness and habit change.  In the process of understanding what motivates peoples habits and how they change them she noticed that we tend to fall in one of 4 categories:  Upholder, Obliger, Questioner and Rebel.

To use Gretchen’s words of explanation of these categories:

When we try to form a new habit, we set an expectation for ourselves. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand how we respond to expectations. We face two kinds of expectations: outer expectations (meet work deadlines, observe traffic regulations) and inner expectations (stop napping, keep a New Year’s resolution). 
Upholders respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations. “I do what others expect of me—and what I expect from myself.” 

Questioners question all expectations. They meet an expectation only if they believe it’s reasonable (effectively, making it an inner expectation). “I do what I think is best, according to my judgment. I won’t do something that doesn’t make sense.” 
Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations. “I don’t like to let others down, but I often let myself down.”

Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. “I want to do what I want, in my own way. If you tell me to do it, I’m less likely to do it.” 

I first heard about this last year and taken the test to figure out what I was out of curiosity.  I do love any kind of personality typing framework that helps me understand myself better!  I came out as an Obliger, which I didn’t really agree at the time.  It should go without saying that a person is likely a mixture of the tendencies and of course it depends on the context, but still It didn’t sit right with me. I could see how I landed there but it just wasn't right.  I quickly moved on from it until recently when it came up again.

After listening to one of Gretchen’s podcasts where they were specifically discussing the Rebel tendency I went back and retook the test, because quite frankly, I resonated with 97% of what they were describing a Rebel was.  No surprise that the second time around I came out a rebel, and it got me thinking about the difference in the result, here’s what I came up with:

When I first did the test, I was thinking about how I would have acted in previous work situations, since that was where I used to spend most of my time and interact with more people.  That was a time when my behaviour was being dictated by my internal architecture, so I was imagining how I would act during a time where I had internal programs running that had me always looking for how I would fit in, how I could be a “good girl”, how could I anticipate what people wanted from me in order to fit in and avoid a lot of negative subconscious drama. 

This time when I did the test I was thinking specifically about my inclinations now.   About how I would act in theoretical situations now.  There is a massive difference between then and now, of course one would expect some things to change but I can say that i am a totally different person now which is accurately reflected in the changed result.

I’ve known for quite some time about how subconscious beliefs and the way we identify ourselves determines our behaviour and actions.  I hold strong to the idea that we come into this world with our natural potential and knowing of ourselves, and that over time, as we figure out how to operate in this world (with limited understanding as our brains are still developing), we stray from our natural selves.  We learn that certain things are good or bad and that other things will get us in trouble or otherwise threaten our survival.  We slowly get moulded by our environments and our experiences.  This becomes our framework for moving through life.  If we are unable to express our emotions naturally, or we have unresolved hurts and trauma, this also adds a layer of debris that further distorts our natural self.  This is all the stuff that I’ve been working through myself, and having gone through all of that, I can see that my experiences and framework has been trying to fit me into an Obliger box from birth.

It’s hard to download all of the things to explain it, but there has always been outer expectations for me to meet, either real of perceived.  Keeping my parents happy for different reasons, not rocking the boat, avoiding conflict, doing my “duty”, being a good girl, being seen and not heard.  School was all about meeting someone else expectations and had nothing to do with who I was.  The jobs that I took were in service, from retail through to office environments.  All had to do with meeting external expectations. In relationships I have always been focussed on making someone else happy and pre-emptively meeting their expectations of me.

I now understand a lot of the inner turmoil I have felt, especially through the last few years, because in trying to be an Obliger role, I’ve been rejecting my true nature.  Anytime we reject ourselves we are causing an amount of internal stress which has a tremendous impact on our health and wellbeing.  through the last few years of my life I seem to have lost my resilience and my inner rebel started coming out.  I didn’t understand it as it was happening, I just experienced extreme stress and felt like I was out of control.  Now I can see the poetic unfolding, from reliving family dynamics when I was living with my brother, to having a boss tell me I couldn’t talk to the people around me (ps. you cannot tell a rebel what they can and cannot do!) to starting my journey into understanding childhood development and other stuff regarding the subconscious playground, behaviour and habit.

All of the work I have been doing in the School of Me has allowed me to honour and accept myself more. It has allowed my natural behaviour and expression to come out and for me to be ok with it.  And now this framework that Gretchen Rubin has created, which I resonate so strongly with, has given me a name to identify with and celebrate.

Is it a coincidence that I’ve been on this particular leg of my journey for 9 months?  Long enough to gestate and birth myself?  I think not!

I would like to take a moment and say, just in case I made it seem like a bad thing, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an Obliger!   In fact, you are in good company as it is one of the largest groups of this framework. Gretchen did an interview with Drew Barrymore and the way she described being an Obliger was so beautiful and poetic it made me a little wistful.   But it’s just not were I belong.  I am actually in the smallest group of people within this framework, with possibly the biggest challenges since I resist doing what others expect of me and even what I expect and want of myself.  New Years Resolutions, rules, to do lists, or any other traditionally accepted ways of doing anything don’t work for me.  I’m a total wild card.  I fly in the face of social convention and structure.  I’m all for freedom and making up my own mind and doing things my way, which is spontaneous and feeling driven.  No wonder all of the advice and knowledge in the world has been useless in helping me do what I want to change my life, it's targeted at the majority of humanity and i just don't fit in there.  And I'm cool with that.

Below i’m going to list some notes I have compiled about the Rebel personality.  Oh yeah, I took many pages of notes over several days, this was so big for me.  I have ordered Gretchen’s book Better than Before where these tendencies were first introduced and I plan to get really intimate with the rest of the categories simply because this has just made so much sense to me and will help me with my clients immensely.  

If you are curious about your own tendency you can take the test here

I recommend listening to Gretchen’s podcasts that explain the tendencies specifically to gain a better understanding of these categories in action.

Podcast 13: Stop Reading a Book, a Know-Yourself-Better Quiz, and the Trap of Free Stuff.

Podcast 35: A Close Look at the Upholder Personality; Are You Like Gretchen and Hermione?

Podcast 36: Do You Always Ask “Why?” Maybe You’re a Questioner.

Podcast 37: Meet a Work Deadline, but Can’t Go Running on Your Own? You May be an Obliger.

Podcast 38: Do You Hate Being Told What to Do? Maybe You’re a Rebel.

Podcast 43: “You Can’t Make Me, and Neither Can I.” Listener Round-Up of the Four Tendencies.


Rebel Tendency

Rebels resist inner and outer expectations.  They wanna do what they wanna do when they wanna do it. They don’t like being told what to do.  They don’t even want to tell themselves what to do. 

Rebel strengths:

  • They put a high value on freedom, on choice, on self expression and authenticity (this does not sound like me at all…
  • Love meeting a challenge in their own way
  • Independant minded
  • They think outside the box, see a bigger picture
  • They are all too willing to go their own way and buck social conventions 
  • They can be very principled according to their own view
  • They in touch with their authentic desires
  • They can be spontaneous and enthusiastic
  • They usually get what they want
  • They are determined
  • They are more likely to stand up for themselves


  • If you ask them to do something, they are likely to resist (unless you can figure out how to make it their choice)
  • They can be perceived as uncooperative or inconsiderate, because they aren’t listening to what others are asking or telling them to do
  • They often resist doing things consistently, they don’t like doing the same thing the same way over and over again
  • They can be restless, have a hard time settling down (living in one place, having the same job) 
  • Sometimes they act like the rules don’t apply to them
  • They don’t respond well to supervision, advice, directions, managing, hovering
  • They can be manipulated by reverse psychology because they like their freedom

Characteristics and quirks

  • They really highly value freedom, authenticity, and choice.  They don’t understand why others are ok being sheep.
  • They are often highly creative individuals
  • They want to do things their way
  • They rebel when you remove options/choice
  • They don’t like fitting into a box or being labelled.  In fact they may rebel against being categorized as a rebel
  • A rebel can do whatever a rebel wants to do.  The key is wants, nothing will really hold them back if they want it
  • Some rebels don’t like doing things like paying the bills, it’s a chore/routine.
  • Anything that is perceived as an obligation: a have to, should, is likely to be resisted
  • To do list is dangerous territory.  Even if it is something they want to do, the simple act of putting it on a list may have the reverse effect because it has become an expectation or obligation
  • They are typically really in touch with their emotions.
  • Other strategies (other than following what they want to do or what is in alignment with their identity) can be counter productive and destructive.  Praising a rebel for doing something will more often then not irritate them and cause an about face.
  • Strangely, they are often drawn to areas with high regulation: theory being that they have something from which to push off of.  it gives them fuel for their rebellion.
  • The more you press a rebel, the more they will resist and possibly do the opposite.
  • They want to act from freedom, without constraint.  
  • Don’t plan.  Ugh.  Agenda and itinerary remove choice.


  • They often don’t know what they want to do because they resist their own expectations.


  • Allow a rebel to feel the consequences so they have an experience of both sides.  They will make up their mind about what they really want or what works best for them and make it happen based on their experiences.
  • Rebels and others should give themselves ample choice, like a range of options to choose from.  Say the target is to eat healthier, having a list of healthy meals to choose from that makes them happy/feel good can help them achieve their aim without triggering resistance or sabotaging behaviour.
  • Let them act according to what they feel like, or how they want to feel (this is now my primary way of navigating my days). 
  • In order to get motivated towards what they want, Rebels should try to do things in accordance with their authentic identity: they value being able to express themselves authentically.  So it can be helpful for them to understand how they identify that authentic expression and how can they bring that across in to reality.
  • Do it now.  Acting as inspired can help Rebels get stuff done.  If the idea gets put on a to do list it is much less likely to happen, if at all, no matter how much it means to them or supports them.  (Oh how I know this one) 
  • Make it convenient, so they can do it now.  This strategy works especially well for Rebels since it makes it even easier for them to follow their impulse.  Having a yoga mat already rolled out will help support an impulse to do some stretching.  Having gym bag already in the car will help support an impulse to go work out.
  • Make acting on inspiration and whim a guiding principle as well as doing what is fun and feels good.
  • Have lists of fun activities that support their goals and identity.


What tendency are you?  Are you a Rebel?  How do you navigate the challenges of being a Rebel?  I would love to hear from you!

Suffering is Optional

A while back I started to say that suffering in life is optional and I truly believe it simply because I know we have the ability to change our experience of life at any time, whether we are able to acknowledge it or not.  That said, often we are unable to see the truth of what is directly in front of us, my own suffering included.

Back in December when I was pondering what I wanted 2016 to be about my mind answered with a resounding “Health & Happiness!”.  I really was tired of being bogged down by the same old drama with my body both physically and mentally.  They took up way too much of my energy and brain space, and I just wanted (and still want) to move beyond them already!  I wanted a new story and a new existence.  I wanted to finally tackle and overcome this old baggage.

When I sat down to get clear on what this “health and happiness” really meant I got some surprising answers:

Feeling fulfilled and light & fluffy.  (Yes, that’s right, I said light & fluffy.)  

Not exactly the answer I expected but I understood it, because honestly, I was feeling everything other than light and fluffy.  When you aren’t at your best level of health you do not feel light and fluffy.  I’m also carrying extra weight that bogs me down mentally, definitely not light.  I talked before about how I was feeling unfulfilled (and playing excessive amounts of video games…) so that was no surprise either.

Following the principles of manifestation I then asked myself what I needed to release, resolve or let go of that was no longer serving me in order to make space and facilitate moving forward into health & happiness.  This question also follows the idea that in order for it to be ok for you to have what you want, you must let go of the beliefs that prevent you from having it now.  This is the mental architecture that keeps us stuck in our current patterns. 

These were the answers I got:

  1. the despair over being where I am now (truly, I was feeling despair at the time)
  2. the need to have it right
  3. the need to know the outcome is certain
  4. the need for pain and suffering
  5. the need to know that I’m doing it right
  6. the paralyzing fear of being seen, of standing out, of being unique, having a voice, of spreading my wings and having a voice
  7. of overthinking
  8. fear of the unknown

Not a terribly surprising list, a lot of these fears are very common, but until we ask ourselves we can only guess at what is going on.  I recognized that all of these things are connected and in some cases might possibly be lumped together, but I think they are each their own issue that must be dealt with separately.  In any case the best way to climb a mountain is one step at a time and I simply started with the one that seemed the biggest and most pertinent to where I wanted to go…

Let go of the need for pain and suffering.  

I realized two things when I read that. Number 1: pain and suffering is not light & fluffy.  Number 2: it was totally true, I was absolutely in a pattern of suffering that I had been blind to.  Even if I had quit my career to pursue my dreams, clearly I was holding onto something deep and it was pervasive through my experience of life.  I was not living my dreams in a state of happiness, it was a state of pain and suffering that I could see riddled throughout my past as well.

In order to explore and understand what this suffering was, I started by creating a map that represented my current reality in relation to health and happiness (or the lack thereof).  A very telling thought came up in the middle of exploring my drama; the thought that life is suffering.  That thought was followed by it’s the human condition - we are all meant to suffer.

I know that I am not alone in the belief that life is suffering or that we are meant to suffer.  This is not just something that I came up with, people experience it all the time.  People have repeated my thought.  When you look up the official description of the human condition, it is actually for us to struggle, not to suffer.  But there is a belief out there that to struggle is to suffer.  We could get very philosophical about this…  I realized though that I didn’t want this to be my experience of life.  I don’t want to believe that everything is suffering and that I must endure pain in order to get what I want.  It’s not necessary.  So I did some belief unpacking with that theme that life is suffering.

It starts off with: What might someone (not me) believe to have the experience that we must suffer in life?  Below are my answers, which are a powerful and telling window into my internal universe.  They do not represent all the answers a person can have, just my own experience and I encourage you to answer that question for yourself if the belief that life is suffering resonates with you as well.

  • we are all meant to suffer - it is the human condition
  • I just want comfort
  • I can’t have the things I want without suffering (health & happiness)
  • One must suffer in order to receive love - where will I get love without suffering?
  • I must suffer, without suffering I am no one
  • suffering and love go together - you cannot have one without the other
  • suffering is how I confirm I am alive - without suffering you are just a mind
  • I cannot love myself without suffering
  • If I’m suffering, I know I am here, I exist
  • Life is suffering - it is what I deserve

That’s some powerful stuff that came out.  The answer that ended up sticking out the most to me in that moment was the last one.  The thought that it is what I deserve.  I decided to “unpack” that one specifically so I could understand where it was coming from.  The question then was: what must be true in order to believe that life is suffering, it is what i deserve?

  • I’m a bad girl        
  • I’ve done something wrong        
  • I’m not good enough to live without pain
  • That I’m wrong, I’ve done something wrong
  • There is always pain, all the time it hurts
  • That someone is out to get them, to punish them  

With that last one a name came to mind and I burst out crying.  You know, that little girl crying, loud and hard and full of true anguish and confusion.  I see after the fact that I had to go into 3rd person to get to that last one and I see why. Sometimes the pain is too much for us to bear that we must be removed from it slightly in order for it be revealed.  I was undoubtedly feeling some kind of psychic pain if I was saying that “all the time it hurts”


I invite you to take a moment right now to ask yourself, to really think: what has to be true in reality, for someone to have the honest and sincere belief that someone is out to get them, that someone is going to hurt them or punish them?

I don’t have any notes from that moment to answer that question.  I find that the majority of the time when I get that deep I just need to release the emotions no matter if they make sense or not, and then after to have some kind of positive resolution within.  These moments don’t need to have notes and analysis, they are about pure feeling.  I do remember making some really surprising connections about being rejected by a loved one and being punished by a loved one and how the suffering, both physically and mentally, got wrapped up with the desire for love. Totally makes sense when you look back at my original thoughts about life is suffering. 

But can you imagine the anxiety and general unsafe feeling that person must carry inside of them having that belief that someone is always out to get them and cause them pain and suffering?  I’m just wondering that now.  Was I always waiting for something bad to happen at any moment?  Was I constantly checking my back?  On high alert? I never knew it but that was exactly what was going on in my subconscious mind.  The only reason why I know that is because since that emotional discovery, all of that anxiety has disappeared.  I find myself with a spaciousness internally that is a little unnerving at times. It is suddenly ok and not anxiety provoking to ask myself "what do I want to do today?".  I can lay around in bed in the morning a-ok and not have this background anxiety driving me to get up and do something that will ensure I am doing “the right thing” and will avoid being punished. 

When you do this kind of work you get these little ahas afterwards, when things are illuminated and make sudden sense to you.  I had another one that same day that made me really hopeful for the future:  “I thought, shit, I’ve just had a hefty day, I deserve a hug.”  I went to get a hug and it hit me, Why would I ever reach out for physical comfort and love before when I believed that it came with pain and suffering?  Has it now become safe for me to get love?

The answer is yes. And things have changed :) 


Belief unpacking exercise

If you ever find yourself with a thought about life and how it is that you would like to change, or if you just want to change the parameters of what is possible in your reality you can belief unpack.  It can be really confronting but often it really illuminates how you’ve been operating.  Knowing that I operated under the belief that life is suffering would have been plenty for me to work with alone but of course I had to go the extra mile and resolve it.  In any case, here’s some general guidelines on how to go about doing it for yourself.

  1. Ask yourself: What is your current experience of life or what do you want to change?  What do you believe about life in general and about yours specifically?
  2. Explore: What would you like for your life?  Where would you like to be, what are your dreams?  If nothing particular comes to mind think about your current experience of life and ask yourself what would you like instead?  What would one step better be?
  3. Get intimate and unpack it!  Start creating a map of your current reality, Think about it for a few days and when something pops up, capture it on your map.
  4. identify your beliefs as opposed to your experience, these can be thoughts or statements or generally held truths that you have captured.
  5. Dig deep.  Pick the one that seems to have the most emotional charge and start asking yourself: what someone other than you believe for that to be true.  Keep asking yourself that and drill down.
  6. Then ask yourself: What must be true in order to have that experience of life?
  7. Resolve it.  Do what you need to to honour that belief, where it came from, and to release it in whatever way feels good.  Install and affirm a new, more positive belief.


The powerful thing about this work, especially if you are willing to dig deep, to allow whatever comes up to come up without judgement, is that many subtle things change after the fact and many realizations come as new understanding occurs.  I was just looking to let go of the need to suffer in my life, but I’ll let go of anxiety and fear too :) oh another aha: no wonder I always liked being alone... It's certainly is a lot safer and peaceful.