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A different perspective on your Meditation habit: the Four Tendencies and how to use them

Wanting it and doing it are two different things.

If you’ve been around the internet for a while, you’ve probably come across many articles about habits.  How to form them, how to keep them, how to lose them.  If not, then just by being a living, breathing human then you know that habits are tricky!

Meditation, and more specifically a meditation practice, is something that works best when it becomes a habit. Something we do regularly and often, almost without thinking.

Decision fatigue

So much of our lives is actually routine and yet we wear ourselves out by having to constantly DECIDE what we’re going to do. "Do I feel like meditating? Shall I meditate now?  Or maybe later?”.  

All this decision making means we can instead find ourselves escaping into the oblivion of a social media scroll or checking our email and then suddenly...times up and “I don’t have time to meditate now anyway”.

So working out how to make something a habit makes sense - it makes it an automatic so there’s less energy wasted “deciding”. 

Making it happen

So how can you create a sustainable habit? How do you turn “I wish I could meditate” into “I meditate regularly”?  The fact is that in the beginning, building a new habit takes effort. We have to build those cues that trigger us to meditate until we start to feel the benefit - which then reinforces the desire to keep doing it.

That means understanding how to influence ourselves and our behaviour.

The role of Expectations

One question to ask yourself is how do you respond to expectations, both the ones you place on yourself but also those of other people?  That may seem a strange place to begin but it could help more than you think.  

One of the big daily challenges of life is: “How do I get people—including myself—to do what I want?”.  In her book “The Four Tendencies” Gretchen Rubin (who’s written multiple books on the themes of human nature and how to be happier), provides a framework to answer that deceptively simple question.

And it turns out it could be a game changer if you want to influence your own behaviour. 

In a nutshell, it distinguishes how people tend to respond to expectations: Outer Expectations (eg a work deadline, or a class you’ve signed up to) and Inner expectations  (a Meditation practice, a decision to exercise more)

Here's the Four categories:

1. Upholders 

They respond readily to outer and inner expectations. If they decide to do something, mostly they will stick to it.   This is the least common tendency behind Rebels.

2.  Questioners 

 They question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense.   That person who asks a million questions about a course of action? Probably a questioner.

3.  Obligers 

They meet outer expectations really well, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves.

So if they agree to do something with someone else it's likely to happen.  If it only impacts themselves then its more likely to slip off the radar.

This is the most common tendency.

4.  Rebels

They resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. Sometimes they'll meet them but sometimes they won't. This is the least common tendency.

So why is this even important? 

Well, when you understand which category you mostly fit into you can use that to help you make meditation a habit. Helping you to take those first steps to make the behaviour stick.

Figuring out what works for you

1. Upholders:

Once you’ve made a commitment to yourself to meditate or a commitment to attend regular meditation sessions then the chances are you’ll do it. Go you! Click here to check out the ways we can help you get started.

2.  Questioners

Once you know exactly why it works and how to do it then you also stand a good chance of continuing.

You just need to have compelling evidence so you know it makes sense.

Click here to check out our “Why Meditate?”Section for info to help if that’s you.  You might also find our Be.Course really useful in constructing a really compelling "why?" for yourself. You can find out more about it here.

3. Obligers

If this is you, then you’ve probably been frustrated with yourself many times that you’re so reliable for other people but you just can’t seem to stick at things that are about you.  

If you’ve ever mentally berated yourself for that, then it’s time to cut yourself some slack.

This group has arguably the most to gain from understanding their tendency. What’s crucial is that you establish external accountability.

It matters to you if you make a commitment to someone other than yourself. So, joining our regular Be.Drop in/ Intro sessions could be the game changer you need.

Once you’ve made that commitment, you’ll show up and what’s more you’ll reap the benefits.  

Being part of a community that supports each other is really important for Obligers.  Once you know that, you can set yourself up for success. If you attend Be.Course, you will also gain access to our members only Facebook community - a positive and supportive community to give you encouragement and inspiration. Check out all of the options by clicking here.

4. Rebels

Well, you guys just need to decide for yourselves!

Meditate. Don’t meditate. It’s all up to you.  If you feel pressured to do it then the chances are you will resist.  But maybe you can help yourself by deciding what kind of person you want to be and deciding if meditation fits with that.

Ultimately you can do whatever you want!

Cut yourself some slack

So maybe it’s time to stop feeling bad about yourself and spending your finite energy trying to convince yourself that Now’s the right time. At Be., what we’re most passionate about is making meditation a sustainable part of your life. 

Take the Four Tendencies quiz  here to find out which tendency you fall under. 

So which tendency are you?

I'd love to hear what you think. So which of the Four Tendencies are you? Personally I found this framework really thought provoking...Especially when I thought of other people in my life, not just myself.  An eye opener.


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