top of page

Are you a Rebel?

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

I've always been like that. Whenever someone tells me what to do, I do the opposite. Or question it. Or do it - if I can really not help it - but grudgingly.

I never thought much of it.

Until I found Gretchen Rubin's book The Four Tendencies with her description of a Rebel. And realised that I was just that. A Rebel. Someone who needs to understand what needs to be done. Needs to understand the consequences. And above all, needs choices.

Even if everyone else is telling her what the correct thing to do is (ESPECIALLY when everyone else tells her what to do).

It was interesting. Because I always thought I was - what Gretchen Rubin calls - an Obliger. Someone who meets someone else's expectations easily, but can't seem to keep her own.

It made me think about accountability.

Accountability: The willingness of someone to take responsibility.

Because that is exactly what it is. Taking responsibility. Doing things. For yourself. For others.

So, why is it so hard to take that responsibility? Why is it that not all of us can easily achieve other's or your own expectations?

I'm going to answer that with a long-ish response. And a bit of a detour.

How you develop as an adult

Adult development theory tells us that people's lives is divided in phases*. From infant stage all the way to old age we go through five stages. Three of them in adulthood:

  • Stage 3 — Socialised mind (58% of the adult population)

  • Stage 4 — Self-Authoring mind (35% of the adult population)

  • Stage 5 — Self-Transforming mind (1% of the adult population)**

The socialised mind

In the early stages of your adulthood you are in the 'socialised mind' stage. This means that you adapt. To society. To your family, your friends, your immediate circle around you.

In this phase you are spending a lot of time taking responsibility for what other people think of you. You try to fit in. Do what's right, what's expected of you. And, crucially, we derive our sense of self from others.

The self-authoring mind

At one point you are likely to make the move into the 'self-authoring' mind. This means that you are starting to develop your own values, you develop your own mind. You start to take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings.

So, why am I telling you all this?

Because I believe it is important for you to understand where you are in your development. And also to tell you that it is all not as clear-cut as it looks.

Because a transition to a new stage in your life is never clean, never easy.

When you have spent so much time thinking about others, deriving your self-worth from others, you may well have a hard time remembering - or making up your mind - about what it is that YOU stand for! You may have forgotten what it is that YOU want!

I'll call this hurdle number one.

  • Not being clear on your values - what's important to you. And therefore not being clear when someone's ask is going against your values.

  • Not being clear on what YOU want.

Who are you?

Do you really know yourself? Do you know if you're a Rebel (like me), or an Upholder - who meets their own as well as other's expectations? A Questioner - who needs logical reasons for doing things? Or an Obliger, who will meet every externally imposed deadline, but can never get themselves to go to the gym or keep themselves to their diets?

Not one of these tendencies is 'better' than the other. But by knowing which one you are you will be able to determine what you need to put in place to ensure you keep your own promises, or the promises you made to others.

Are you an Obliger? You may want to consider putting in place some external accountability. A running buddy. Someone who comes with you to the weight loss club. A coach who holds you accountable for your progress.