๐ŸŒ  Aligning Monthly Self Leadership with Values Based Living

Mentally Tying Together Daily Habits, Weekly Goals and Monthly Self Leadership

I just wrote a post about my new “Life Improvement System” which combines my values, the idea of Lลkahi (harmony) and my Clifton Strengths Assessment results into a cohesive system based on Demitri Martin’s Life Improvement Plan, yet now personalized to me (strengths, values and goals) and my life (farmer, writer, martial artist, mother, teacher).

How to Align My Strengths with My Goals

I usually won’t splurge on expensive tests, but I was satisfied with the Clifton Strength Assesment. Finding my values took me many tries and at least three years, it was nice to pay and have my strengths accurately mapped out in less than an hour. My particular strengths are restorative (adept at finding solutions for problems), learner (enjoys the journey of continuous improvement), intellection (deep thinking), input (idea collecter), responsibility (proactive, honest and loyal).

Thinking about how to apply my top five strengths to the self-leadership formula:

๐Ÿ’ก 1. THINK What good can I do? Intellection
๐Ÿ“˜ 2. DREAM How to live my values? Resolver
๐Ÿ› ๏ธ 3. PLAN What can I get done? Resolver
๐ŸŽ‰ 4. DO Celebrate where I am. Responsibility
๐Ÿข 5. LEARN Something from today. Learner
๐Ÿ˜ 6. NOTICE What to change? Input

How to Remember All the Goals and Habits and To-Dos Easily

After redoing the weekly goal system I adjusted my Habitca Dashboard habits to reflect my new weekly goals. The life improvement system is a “fancy” system of storing my weekly goals. Habitca lets me store weekly and daily habits together in an easy to use way. Habitca is a free productivity, list app, that works either on the web or via mobile app, it has a catagory for “Dailes” (daily habits), To-Dos, Rewards and Habits. I like it better than Fabulous, Habit Bull, CheckList.com and Coach.Me for keeping all my habits in one easy to use location. I still use Coach.Me, but I prefer to use it secondarily to Habitca.

This is My Updated Habitca for the New Version of My Life Improvement System

I used to use rewards for tea, coffee, sweets, steaks and new books, but I didn’t really check in when I got any of those things, so instead I was able to use it to make some of my weekly habits into rewards themselves. That way my lists are not as long and also I start thinking of the habits of connections as rewards, and they really are, since I feel really good after checking in with my friends ext. Habitca is a little silly, it makes real life into a game, but I love it! Having a party (group) of a few people makes me more accountable. There are little game functions to do, like fighting bosses and changing equipment to boost stats, but it’s overall a habit list with just a little bit of fun flair to it. I’m in the Jack of All Trades guild if anyone wants to join me there. Dailies loose health points if you don’t do them everyday, so that makes me really conscious of if the habit needs to be done on the weekend or not, if not it goes into the habit section instead and it’s great being able to add to-dos in the same page because I check in with my habits everyday. I like to add links to the activities I do online, that saves me time when I go to do the activity. In the end it feels like the school planners that I used to list all my homework when I had a lot of different classes at once.

Connecting the Day to Day to My Inner Values

I watched a show about the brain with John Medina (The Life of the Brain), he talked about how it was important to learn “schema,”(a representation of a plan or theory) and that knowing the overarching idea about what was going on aided learning and memory. It felt kind of like cheating when I changed the schema of my life improvement play based on the habits, instead of the other way, yet it was important to better organize and customize my life improvement system. The purpose of the system is to give meaning and value to my life, while not unbalancing it. It’s supposed to be filled with meaningful, but not impossible things that are achievable based on my strengths in reality and also significant to me. Demitri Martin said the unexamined life isn’t worth living, for me the system was more about fighting a malise and getting rid of the feeling my life doesn’t matter because I’m mortal and average and I can’t do anything important because I have many responsibilities to my kids ext and I’m just a normal person (not wealthy, nor famous ext).

I wanted to stop being persistent and start being perseverant. Instead of pushing rocks up mountains without stopping, I wanted to push the right rock up the right mountain.

All year I’ve been thinking about Einstein’s quote “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”

I think I’ve finally expanded my consciousness enough to solve the problems I was ruminating about going into the year, how to fix the relationship with my daughter, how to fix my life, how to stop feeling overwhelmed, how to find meaning beyond chores, how to cope with the feeling of debt, how to step back from emotional codependence, where to go with homeschooling my kids.

It’s interesting because stepping back and trusting my daughter solves most of my problems.

To fix the relationship with my daughter I needed to be not exhausted, so I needed help caring for her and to spend less time with her. Instead of filling her with love I stepped back telling her love comes from within and that although I love her if she can’t find the love within her heart she won’t feel loved. I stepped back from my expectations that my daughter would be “good” (quiet, calm, polite, conscientious, socially appropriate) while keeping non-violent boundaries for both of us and letting go of my expectations that I would be “good” as in able to make my daughter quiet, calm, polite, conscientious, socially appropriate. I accepted my daughter how she is (wild, loud and spirited) and accepted myself how I am (needing calm, needing more breaks and rough at speaking the truth nicely) and decided on boundaries that I would need to survive and possibly thrive living together.

To stop feeling overwhelmed, I also stepped back from trying to make my daughter “good” (still make her clean ie brush her teeth and respectful ie no yelling or hitting in the living room) and stepped back from trying to be “good (showing up as a teacher for my kids too much at the cost of rest and health),” redesigning the school curriculum and expecting a slower, yet steady, learning pace, as well as doing a lot of writing to solidify my wants and needs and help clarify my values vs abilities to use time management.

With that extra energy not spent trying to be “good,” I found meaning beyond chores through redesigning the value-based living life improvement system I’ve been using for six weeks, writing on my blog (https://bubblegummonkey.com/) and starting a family farm.

By letting go of the feeling of debt (still have a student loan, but let go of shame and regret) I had time to center myself and know that I do have integrity and values, even though I am in debt.

I learned that I was trying to prevent my daughter from being angry and throwing fits because it made me tired due to emotional codependence, instead of because I really cared about helping soothe my daughter and I surrendered her emotions to her, while still being open to soothe her if I can and when she comes to me.

I got new inspiration about homeschooling because I let go of competing with other moms/teachers/kids to be the best/know the most and instead thought about what my daughter’s strengths were, how I can help her build on her strengths and what basics would be the most helpful to her potential. So instead of trying to learn what everyone knows faster or more, I’m trying to teach what could be the most helpful skills or what is interesting to my daughter mentally or foundational for building her personal skill set for life balance, being a human being and also as a potential worker who serves humanity in her preferred ways.
I could only do that from taking a step back from normal and taking a step back from a competitive mindset that was based on ego of being a parent with the smartest kid and fear of being a parent who cheats a kid out of the best education they could have had to not have to worry about them being shot or molested in public school.

So taking a step back was the key to being able to move forward in new, healthier directions from today onward. A direction of love towards my family, friends, and humanity, a direction of taking breaks as a parent and a direction of customized education, which was the original reason for homeschooling that became corrupted over time by fear and ego.

I have daily habits, I have weekly goals, I think I will do this self-leadership monthly. Because the trend of stepping back has been a good one lately.

My Values Based Monthly Plan

This month of October:

๐Ÿ’ก 1. THINK What good can I do? I can finish up as much farm work as I can do, possibly leveling, weeding and seeding the moss lawn and putting weed cloth, mixing soil and adding transplants to the veggie grow beds and leaving the major weeding and morning glories for another year.

๐Ÿ“˜ 2. DREAM How to live my values? In particular, it would be nice to live by “aloha ‘aina” this month, because I won’t have access to our nursery for the rest of the year. Setting the food plants in order and decluttering the garden would be great goals.

๐Ÿ› ๏ธ 3. PLAN What can I get done? I can spend at least 10 minutes and maybe up to an hour doing the above goals, moss lawn, veggie bed prep, kaizen blitz clean up each day.

๐ŸŽ‰ 4. DO Celebrate where I am. I’m so happy I fixed things with my daughter, us fighting and power struggling and me trying to soothe her dozens of fits every day was wasting all my time and energy. Between fights and over teaching her I had no energy left for personal goals or well being even though I had some time. I’m glad that period of my life is over.

๐Ÿข 5. LEARN Something from today. The only way through is not forward, sometimes if you are going through hell, take a break or step back and go a different way around.

๐Ÿ˜ 6. NOTICE What to change? If there is a way to clarify my goals and make the many things I want into more streamlined, easier to remember chunks I think that would help. Making a visual reminder of my goals may help me stay on task. The inspiration is there in my heart, but my brain needs more mental clarity to be more effective.

Want to Find Out or Clarify Your Own Unique Values?

By the way my self leadership template is at the bottom of the Inner Citadel (home page) it comes from the free Life Values Invetory program’s “Optimal Self-Leadership” supplemental guide to florishing. That’s a really cool free website that is a great place to start examining your values based on the 14 most universal values and how they interplay. Russ Harris has a really cool list of 60 values in his book The Confidence Gap (also available as a free PDF). My family used this list of 51 Hawaiian Values to pick our 3 family values earlier this year (which was really exciting for me, since I knew other families that had them and we never did). I also have some Japanese values. I find not all Japanese or Hawaiian values do translate and perhaps that is what makes Earth so beautiful, that there are so many diverse values. I started with the 14, but quickly found using the list of 60 gave me more personal results and reconnecting with my cultural (where I was raised) and ethnic (my blood) heritage deepened my personal connection to my values even further. Each step gives you more understanding, but there isn’t really a limit to the satisfaction of living a life of virtue that agrees with your own particular soul.

๐Ÿ“• My Experience with Whole-Brained Parenting

Overall I enjoyed the book Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, I read it when my first child was a baby and found it somewhat unsuited for her tempermant.

I just started Kelly Meier’s “Beyond the Book” book club to try and apply the book towards my real family life, even though I failed in the past I’m excited to try again. Sometimes failure is not the opposite of success, but part of the path of success (and sometimes it’s not).

One thing about the book is it says that the child’s brain will mirror the parents, that doesn’t seem real to me. I have been super calm, while my child was screaming and kicking… my calmness just bothered my daugher more and more. It feels like I’m not able to validate her emotions and she isn’t able to down regulate. It’s not that I don’t want to help her, but I never found a way so far. I believe in her ability to self regulate and I think it’s fine for parents to co regulate also, but somewhere between her and I as individuals is some kind of problem doing so. I am able to face my emotions, I am able to calm my actions, yet I am helpless to help my daughter who is way more intense than I am. She reminds me a lot of her father, he doesn’t let me co regulate him, if he is very sad or mad he leaves the house and comes back. That’s the way he was before I met him, that’s his choice, but it seems to me that my daughter and him are very naturally different than average.

It’s my hope that I can help my daughter learn to calm down enough to handle her emotions well, not ignore them, not repress them, but also not be a slave to them.

The book says “everything that happens to us matters to how the brain develops,” that’s stress provoking for me, it made me want to control “everything that happens to my daughter’s brain” ie “everything.” That’s not a very realistic expectation, with one, or especially two kids. It also makes me frustrated when, not everything I try seems to have any effect on my child. From my experiences, I don’t believe that it is true. I believe that there are certain really important events, like “core memories” from Inside Out,” that for subtle reasons, are much more important than other events. I have come to find that a lot of events are outside of my control as a parent, and I have to accept and surrender to those events emotionally to face reality as it comes.

I also have doubts that squabbles are caused by lack of brain integration, I think they are part of human nature. I don’t know any adults who don’t squabble… I think heart to heart comunication breaks down and squabbles occur at all ages.

I have more doubts that brain integration can live up to it’s promise of helping people to thrive “emotionally, intellectually and socially,” maybe it does help “improved decision making, better control of body and emotions, fuller self understanding, stronger relationships and success in school,” but I don’t believe all the introductory claims are true. I personally know the “achademically best” student in my sisters school (her best friend), who struggled with relationships. I know many people who shine is one area of life, without brain integration. I think brain integration is worthwhile, but I think the claims of what it improves are inflatted or wrong. I think brain integration probably does improve day to day well being. I think success in school is somewhat determined by fate, some people can’t even afford to go seriously… I think relationship success relies on people outside of your control, not on your brain integration… I think intellect is heavily genetic or determined by nutrition or early education outside of brain integration. But even voicing my doubts, I believe brain integration has something beautiful and worth chasing at the end of its journey.

I think brain integration probably helps ward off depression, I was in the same place intellectually and socially, before and after working on brain integration, but I did end at a slightly elevated emotional place. What I can say about my daughter, is that despite getting more “enrichment” than her peers she is intellectually average, socially superior and emotionally poorer. I’m not sure if that is due to genetics vs enviornment, but I know she isn’t superior across the board, to her friends who’s parents don’t read parenting books or visit museums, learn sign language ext., instead she has peaks and valleys that I think are semi-perminant markers of her unique mind, heart and soul.

More to come…

๐Ÿ“• My Experience with Conscious Parenting

A book that really made it harder for me to raise my daughter was The Conscious Parent Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. I loved the book’s message that parents should accept their children the way they are, and it was probably not meant for small kids or to be literal, but I tried to use it that way.

I think when your child doesn’t use the toilet, and then they become ready to use it, you aren’t accepting what they want, you are training them to do things in a better way and somewhat change who they are.

Dr Shefali mentions that “normative” things should be taught as a routine, assertively, but she doesn’t address the dissidence between not trying to change your children vs changing them to do “normative things”. I also read Dr. Shefali’s second book, and loved it on paper. I committed myself to trying to use her method for my family, but many years later I am admitting to myself it did not work for us.

My understanding of the idea of conscious parenting is to 1. examine each situation on a case by case basis, 2. take in the moment, 3. examine your own soul and upbringing, 4. think about what to do, 5. put a space between being mad and acting (wait five minutes before punishment), 6. act to address the situation.

That all sounds fine, but it all doesn’t work for us. Examining each situation sounds great, but if you are pregnant with another kid vomiting in the toilet, how do you examine why your first child broke something in the playroom that you didn’t witness, and they say they didn’t break it… you don’t, you really can’t always do that. Clear, consistent rules are better for us, than a family meeting over each and every new infraction. We have tried it both ways. With clear rules my daughter isn’t scared of the punishment (you drop your ice cream you have no ice cream – you don’t get another, you hit your brother I talk to you about “mฤlama” (caring for) him and using your strength in a helpful way), she knows it is coming, she doesn’t love it, but it doesn’t give her anxiety the same as when we decided punishment on a case by case basis.

Conscious Parenting was a huge cognitive burden for me, to try to think about myself and my childhood every time anything bad happened. Yes,it was important for me to let go of a traumatic childhood, but having done that, not everything that happens to my family now has anything to do with my past upbringing.

When I am mad, it is often because my valid boundaries are being violated, not because I am a raging psycho who needs to chill out.

For me, especially with two kids to care for by myself, it makes things way easier if I don’t have to think about what to do when the same problem comes up, sure I have to figure out each new problem, but the set protocol really helps.

For something unsafe, phase 1 I grab my daughter and take her away, phase 2 soothe her, then phase 3 explain, I don’t ask for permission, I don’t negotiate, I just take action.

For emotional fits, I allow the fit, but ask her to go to her space so not everyone else in the family has to be disturbed from their life (quiet meal/music practice/computer project/work from home phone call) for her to throw her fit.

The protocols allow me to be a much better person in the heat of the moment than my attempt at conscious parenting did. For a big disturbing mess I separate her and the mess, have her wait, I clean, then I talk to her about mฤlama/caring for our home, or items she may have broken. I really do that. Before I had the protocol, it wasn’t as nice… There was yelling sometimes, it didn’t really seem to change her bad habits though.

Now with standing protocol I get less flustered, I treat her better, my husband can help me decide on the protocol (sometimes he has good ideas). The last point about why I’m not a fan of conscious parenting anymore, is that when you want to modify behavior waiting five minutes uncouples the cause and effect in the brain of the child, if each time the child does something bad something adverse happens (like they get their toys taken away for the day, when they hurt someone with the toy) it’s a more powerful learning message, than if that toy was taken away five minutes later, when they are already thinking and possibly doing something else.

Sometimes I get too angry to talk to my child about our values when she does something bad, and I confine her somewhere safe while I calm down, but I don’t expect her to learn from that… I’m just keeping her safe from being verbally abused by me, while I am furious. I talk to her when I am calmed down, and I tell her what our family values are. I’m trying to use ICC, inform, consequence, choice from the Four Tendencies book, so I say “when you kick the dog you are not mฤlama-ing/caring for our dog” (inform), “if you kick the dog you can not be in the living room where the dog lives anymore, you will go to your space” (consequence), then I let her choose to either apologize to the dog, or go to/be taken to her room (choice). I don’t punish her with hitting, with screaming, with taking away toys (except if she used them as weapons), I don’t confine her in her room as punishment (though I do for safety, while I calm down) and over the past month I’ve noticed a big improvement in her behavior.

There are some really wonderful ideas in Dr. Shefali’s books, so much so that I tried to live by them for about three years. However, I think it’s so important for parents to know that not all ideas work for all parents or children, even if you try them consistently and do a good job, since kids are different, parenting can never be a one size fit’s all eye glasses prescription. My favorite Ted Talk about parenting, Jennifer Nacif’s “the Secret to Motivating Your Child,” changed the way I saw all parenting advice forever, and empowered me to start viewing my child as a person first, and child second and if all people are created equal, that means my child isn’t really somehow “holier than me” needing me to constantly be the one to go the extra mile, while she won’t meet me half way.

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ Rock Bottom to Redemption

Recently in the kitchen, I confronted my three year old daughter about loving a purple dino cup more than me…

My sister said I was being ridiculous and that my daughter loved me more than the dino cup, we asked my daughter and she said over and over that she loved the purple dino cup, because it was a dino, and that she didn’t love me.

We asked her in different ways, we made a Venn diagram about what she did or didn’t like about me, and it just became clearer, and clearer that my daughter and I didn’t love each other anymore.

It happens with spouses, couples, and I guess with children too.

Initially I was so angry, I very uncharacteristically threw the purple dino cup full of water to the floor. It was another rock bottom emotional moment for me. As the water spread across the floor, the problem I had been having internally, emotionally, vaguely, became tangible, physical, measurable in density… (the problem I have with my daughter displaced about 2 cups of water).

I have had this problem, since she was born, but before the water hit the floor everyone dismissed it.

My husband, my sister, my father, refused to believe that things weren’t great between my daughter and I, but they never had been.

They had been better, but never great.

I remember my baby, screaming, flailing, crying out, in my opinion, to be understood.

I fed her, I held her, I carried her in a carrier, I taught her to read, I never left her to work (I brought her to work), but none of it mattered to her. Her dad understood her on a deep emotional level, that I never did, and that kept her dissatisfied, and me exhausted, feeling inadequate and bitter that my best effort wasn’t worth anything to my demanding daughter. {Check out When Your Daughter Has BPD by Daniel Lobel if this is too familiar.}

That was 22 days ago, August 1st.

Today things are much better, because I finally understand my daughter a bit more, and also I’ve been using “ICC” (a boundary setting tool) from Gretchin Rubin’s the Four Tendencies book. It has really helped.

I’ve tried literally a dozen very good sounding parenting books that were not able to help me with my extreemly rebellious, high spirited toddler: The Whole Brained Child, How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, No Drauma Discipline, Siblings Without Rivalry, No Bad Kids, Elevating Child Care, Boundaries with Kids, Brain Rules for Baby, The Awakened Family, Parenting Without Power Struggles, The Explosive Child, with Gretchin Rubin’s the Four Tendencies, I finally got what I wanted, something to help me manage my daughter’s constant crazy outbursts.

ICC specifically fits well with my daughter, while many of the “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen” ideas made her amused, but didn’t solve the problems we had, ICC does solve them 80% of the time. “Whole Brained Child” was too listening based for my daughter, even when she is being good, she doesn’t listen well, she is super visual and kinetic, but not auditory, she doesn’t have much inborn ethics at all to play upon. We have built an I don’t want to kick my brother, because I get a dollar less allowance “ethics” recently and that’s better than nothing. {2 years later it hasn’t backfired, some kids do respond well to rewards without loosing internal motivation or loosing the habit when the reward changes, despite experts saying it’s impossible, it’s happening due in part to habit stickiness}

ICC is inform (this example is for hitting the dog): “we malama (care for) the dog in this family, the dog lives here in the living room and deserves to be safe here” consequence “if you keep hitting the dog, you can not be here in the living room, you will have to be in your room,” choice “what do you pick to do? Will you stop hitting the dog or will you go to your room?” If she doesn’t go on her own, she would be grasped lightly, yet firmly on the wrist and escorted, if she stopped walking I would drag her gently like I would drag a heavy, yet valuable item around the house. But lately, she just decides to comply.

This is literally the first month of her life that she has started complying with anything I have asked her to do without a fight, her whole life. {Later learned my daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder, I’m the same mom and my other child was pretty reasonably compliant from about 1 year onward}

It was 20+ struggles a day with this child, since I met her in October 2015, I’m not 100% sure if it’s her age or the new discipline technique, but I’m 100% happy that we can spend the day learning, having fun, talking about values, instead of fighting over stupid stuff like wiping after using the bathroom, wearing shoes over rough terrain ext.

Today was amazing, she woke up and got through our normal morning routine, potty, wash hands, new underwear, have hair brushed, breakfast without any fights, then we did the entire school day without any fights, then we helped a neighbor go shopping and did our shopping and she didn’t have any melt downs shopping, or in the very long car ride, she was so amazing today compared to normal. It was family movie night and after the movie (Minuscule) she drew her first family portrait on the white board.

It was kind of beautiful that it was family movie night and she drew her first family picture. I want to believe that there is some internal values of unity and harmony getting through to her from the efforts we make to do things together at least one night a week.

Yesterday I found some very reasonably priced taco themed stuff (she loves the books “Tacos y Dragones”) for her upcoming birthday party, from Oriental Trading Company, and my husband says I can get it Wednesday.

Life seems really good right now. I’ve made a lot of mistakes with my daughter, but she is very forgiving and it feels like the relationship is reversing it’s sourness.

I’m very grateful that the 13th book I got to help me with the problem between my daughter and I, had the answers I have been looking for, for the past four years. Yesterday I wrote a post about the downside to persistence, but today I see the upside. Persistence over a long amount of time, has the ability to produce results that seem impossible to most people.

I thought my daughter and I being a poor fit would always make our lives worse, and that she would just have to rely on her father to be there for her in ways that I couldn’t because I couldn’t understand her. But thanks to raising my awareness above the level that created the problem, I can live a completely different kind of life with my daughter now. I’m starting to love her the same way I did when she was a baby again, I’m starting to enjoy her company again, I’m starting to look forward to watching her grow and hopefully being someone she can turn to as a teen and adult again.

Knowing why my daughter fights me so much, and does so much stupid stuff everyday, is what I needed to have patience with it, and find love for her. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong for me to need to understand her to be patient with her, but that is truly what I needed, and I’m very grateful to have finally found it. A special thank you to Gretchin Rubin!

I’m hoping to improve my other relationships with The Four Tendencies book’s techniques as well.

๐Ÿ“• The Four Tendencies

I recently started reading Gretchin Rubin’s book about the four tendencies to help me understand more about my daughter.

I have a three year and a half year old problem, I mean daughter (said somewhat jokingly). Things have always been hard between us, a poor fit, I’m not proud of it, but it’s the elephant in the room I would rather talk about than ignore. Part of the problem is that we don’t understand each other. I don’t know anyone like my daughter to help me get inside her perspective and understand her motivations to encourage her to be her best self and comply with necessary health and safety rules in a neutral or pleasant manner. {12-31-2020 I found out my daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder and I realized I was right about not understanding her, but I didn’t even realize the depth of the differences between us}.

Recently, I read the Jon Klassen shape trilogy. I really enjoyed it. It’s a children’s series, but I think I would have liked it even if I didn’t have kids (maybe because I loved “Flatland“). In the shape trilogy there are rowdy, rebellious triangles, hard working, yet inflexible squares and emotional, encouraging circles. I really associate myself with the squares, and my husband and daughter with the triangles. At the same time I read the shape trilogy I also started listening to “The Four Tendencies,” by Gretchin Rubin. After another horrible rock bottom moment with my daughter I was looking for an answer somewhere. There was a lot of synchronicity between the shape trilogy and the four tendencies book. I enjoyed learning about analyzers/promoters/assertives from Chris Voss’ “Never Split the Difference,” and the 16 Personalities from 16personalities.com (I’m an INTJ), but although they helped me understand and accept myself, they didn’t help me understand and deal with other people, nothing had until now.

I remember being a child myself, I remember feeling in my 20s that even though my family helped and supported me in many ways, they had never loved me “for me”, because they had never known me “for me” at all. I felt unheard and unaccepted until I accepted myself, over the past 2 years, after doing that I still think my family hadn’t known and accepted me, but it doesn’t crush me anymore, because since I have my own understanding and acceptance of myself, I don’t feel I need theirs anymore. It took me about 30 years to understand who I am, how I am, what I value, because most of my life I was trying (yet failing) to do and be, what I thought people thought, I was supposed to do and be. I got my head straight more during a long illness, which forced me to take more down time and evaluate what I wanted to do with the time I had left, since I was made aware that time wouldn’t be forever.

The Four Tendencies book was a really good finish to a journey I started a few years ago to gain a workable amount of understanding of myself as a human being. It’s probably the best to focus on self knowledge, more than values, strengths, personality, because self awareness transcends values, strengths and personality, and interacts with all of them. The tendencies (Rubin’s but not the traditional temperaments that is completely different) describe what you really do on a normal day, the way you live on autopilot, which is how most of life happens.

The four tendencies (Rubin’s) are upholder, questioner, obliger and rebel.

I am an upholder, I finish the fight most of the time, but I was an obliger just a few years ago. Meaning I put other people first, I could have gone to the grave without ever having played the cello (which I wanted to do since age 8), without trying to write (which I wanted to do since age 5), without enjoying a simple sunset without rushing to clean up or teach my kids, or ask my husband if he needed something.

It’s fine to help people if you like it, but I didn’t like it, I just felt that I had to put everyone else first, and there wasn’t much left over after I was done with what was demanded from me on a daily basis.

I’m not that person anymore. My demanding daughter killed that person.

Now I put myself equal with my loved ones, not really first, but not after. I think about what we all need and want, what makes sense to me to do first, and what I have to do now because the chance won’t be there later.

My husband and daughter are rebels, which is hard for me to deal with, but I love them, and I think someday the love will carry me all the way through the pain and help me find the wisdom I need to restore the harmony I want to have between us again.

My sister is a questioner, she is and always has been so different from me that it sparked an early interest in personality types for me. Physically we aren’t too dissimilar, small, female, thin, short, but mentally we have always had a different process of thinking about and interacting with the world, besides just having different tastes in food, pets, hobbies, music, books, people.

The Four Tendencies Book has convinced me not to try to change my rebel daughter and rebel husband anymore, I had stopped trying to change my husband already, but I had stopped out of desperation that it didn’t work, that isn’t the same as stopping on purpose because I accept the way my husband really is. With my daughter, I felt like I had to change her, that I couldn’t release a J-walker into society, but as painful as it will be to see it, she is mainly going to learn from experience what she does or doesn’t like in her life, and won’t just take my word about what situations to engage or avoid.

It’s not that easy to change people, but it is possible, because of leverage. I can change the environment I share with my daughter, and I can change myself and both of those things will change her. It’s subtle, but it’s true. We can change ourselves and we can change others, but not easily, or totally, not just by commanding the world to be the way we want it to be immediately with no time and effort expended.

The best part of the Four Tendencies Book, for me, is the guide on how to work with people of different tendencies. It’s helped me already, with myself, managing myself as another person. It’s helped me accept myself, when the book talks about an obliger having “a burnout moment” and refusing to meet expectations, which happened to me recently: after a really hard day my sister said, “we still love you,” to my daughter and I screamed “not me,” if it wasn’t described in the Four Tendencies book I would never have understood why I did something so unkind and uncharacteristic of my typical behavior. I’m not excusing my behavior, I don’t even need to excuse it, moms don’t loose the right to yell once in awhile while being yelled at, kicked, bitten, pooped on and otherwise abused by kids who get a pass for anything and everything… But, still I don’t like yelling at my kids, or think it’s the best way to communicate on a normal basis. I could have lived and died without ever knowing why I did yell though, since I have a small baby I could have thought it was postpartum hormones, but it wasn’t. It was burnout, because I don’t take breaks. It’s a workplace health code violation to go 4 years without a 10 minute break, but it’s standard parent lifestyle in the modern world… I should take breaks, so I don’t get burnt out, so I don’t yell. I never knew that before this book. Because I thought I could live up to an unlivable standard of doing everything my husband and daughter asked me to do before taking a break, but I didn’t know that break would never come, I didn’t know that I couldn’t ever satisfy my daughter, and that with or without a break she wanted more than I ever had to give her. Now that I have more insight I can get more help, I didn’t know I needed it before, but I do. I need more help to take more breaks so that when I am caring for my kids I can do my best job, imperfect as it will still be.