I’m a Questioner. Most people fall into two of the four Rubin Tendencies: Obliger or Questioner. Upholders and Rebels are outliers. Questioners have the easiest time adopting or abandoning new habits, because we find rational arguments convincing. The core of my personal philosophy is: “Do things that are a good idea. Don’t do things that are a bad idea.” For me, this is simple and straightforward, as long as I understand why the idea is bad or good.
The dark side of being a Questioner is that I have zero interest in whether my habits are acceptable to others. I also have a lot of trouble adapting to dictates that I think are arbitrary or counterproductive. This tended to cause problems for me in school and in the workplace. For example, one of the things I have never understood is the demand that everyone work “core business hours.” If I’m twice as productive as someone else, why do we get paid the same amount for the same hours? Why should arriving promptly at 7:55 AM every day be so much more important than net contribution?
Fortunately, I married an Upholder. Over the years, we have been great influences on each other. One of his keystone habits is punctuality. What I learned from him was that being a little early is not that difficult, and since I have a smartphone, I can fill in that dead time before appointments in myriad ways. The positive uptick in my reputation is about 10x more valuable than the 5-10 minutes at home that I always felt I was sacrificing. Once I bought into this concept, I started to realize that my concept of time was also off. His “minute” is about 58 seconds, and my “minute” is about 90 seconds. This intrigued me, and I started to see being ready on time as an interesting challenge, a puzzle to solve. The Obliger argument that I should just be ready on time to make him and/or others happy – well, that didn’t do it for me. Why should I be the one to change my perception, instead of him? Shouldn’t he just relax a little and quit judging me? What wound up happening was that my willingness to experiment on myself and try to break down lifelong habits paid off, as he met me halfway.
Over the years, I have bought into many ideas that I initially rejected. This is pretty common. “I could never do that.” “That’s not me.” “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.” “Why on earth would someone do that?” What I’ve started to say instead is, “What would that be like?” “I wonder who thought of that.” “Interesting.” When a weird new idea becomes known to me, I Google it more or less instantly, trying to understand. My new rule is to Do the Obvious, meaning I must make a concerted effort to try out anything that is widely considered to be a best practice, especially if I feel strong emotional resistance. Fortunately/unfortunately, all of these behaviors have worked out so well for me that I have had to accept them. Insight comes after action.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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