Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rigid Personality

My husband says I'm inflexible.  He's not the first person to tell me this.  I don't deny it.  I have a strong preference for structure over chaos.  It takes me a while to adjust to big changes.  I am easily stressed out, even over small things.  I like my space to be clean (or at least tidy).  Messiness makes me feel like the room is closing in on me. 

If something needs to be done I prefer to go ahead and do it as soon as possible; I rarely procrastinate.  I like to plan activities and/or events in advance.  I don't like spur of the moment invitations and will typically decline them. I am very attached to my routines. If there is somewhere I've planned to go at a particular time or something I do regularly on certain days I generally resist any attempts by other people to intefere. 

So no, I am not particularly flexible.  I can bend and I do bend, but only under a limited number of extenuating circumstances. 

I admit that I can be too "rigid" at times.  This sometimes leads to negative consequences.  As I said before, I get stressed out a lot.  I'm not always anxious but I do struggle with anxiety.  I am stubborn to a fault.  I become irritable and unpleasant when I feel overwhelmed. 

My husband highlights these consequences and insists that I change.  I'm too rigid, he says.  I won't listen to reason.  (I completely disagree with the latter sentiment.  I do listen to reason.  It's just that I do not always find his "reason" compelling.  I listen to it and then I disagree.  I have a right to disagree.  It doesn't mean I'm unreasonable).

While I disagree with the crux of my husband's argument, buried within it lies a valid point.  I can be too rigid. 

And yet this very same quality bestows so many benefits.  I am consistent, steady, and reliable.  I get things done.  I am responsible.  I am conscientious.   I am predictable. This may not make me the most exciting person in the world but I'm okay with that. People know what to expect from me; there is something comforting about that.  I finish what I start; I follow through with committments.  Because of this I have, for example, no difficulty exercising regularly and maintaining healthy eating habits.  In fact, I don't really have a problem maintaing any positive habit, once it becomes a habit.  I'm good at habits.  Habits are my thing.

It is difficult for me to know where to draw the line.  Yes I'm a bit rigid but to a certain degree this works well for me.  It enables me to structure my life in a way that ensures I have time to devote to every important person, activity, event, and/or obligation.  I realize, however, that being too rigid creates problems.  Sometimes I refuse to budge, even when I know I'm making things more difficult than they have to be.  There is definitely room for improvement.

When it comes to my marriage, I know that trying to be more flexible will decrease conflict and increase harmony.  I also believe, however, that a great deal of benefit would come from my husband putting effort into trying to understand and accept me as I am, for who I am, instead of wanting me to be a different "type" or "kind" of person.  (And that goes both ways, of course, i.e., me learning to accept him as he is).  I am open to self-improvement but I can't be a different person.  I don't want to be a different person.  And I don't want anyone to pressure me into being anyone other than myself.  If I say to my husband, "This is who I am.  Please try to accept me," am I just being rigid and obstinate?  I am confused at this point about whether I should be working on changing myself or encouraging him to to accept me as I am...

15 comments:

  1. That is putting it out there. Just curious, come from an alcoholic family? Or the oldest child where most things are destroyed by younger siblings? The unpredictability of living under those circumstances can make someone this way.
    Suggestion, "Don't say this is who I am." It kills any movement into awareness of where you might be a problem....and where you could change for the better.

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    1. I think it's probably a inherited tendency - I come from a long line of people with similar personalities.

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  2. I totally agree with the previous comment, about not saying this is who I am. I really does put an obstacle to the path of change. In my honest opinion, change should come both ways as long as it is a change for the good only! Anyways great post!

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  3. Ideally, we're not living static lives filled with fixed positions and routines. You may like your routines and habits, but of course you're much more than them, and they are subject to change as conditions in your life change.

    So, it's probably more accurate that you desire your husband to accept you where you are at right now. That this is who you are today. "Can you accept me where I am at today?"

    Maybe some piece of this is a more permanent element. Like a tendency to be stubborn on some some things. That's been true for me since I was a little kid. However, how that stubbornness looks, what it gets hooked on, the degree to which it gets hooked, and even the reasons why aren't the same. How could that be anyway?



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    1. A lot of good things to think about...Thank you.

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  4. My MIL is very rigid and shows characteristics of OCPD. My only comment is that this may effect your relationships later in life, with messy grandchildren, impromtu visits with loved ones. Anything that happens out of her routine is bothersome and she becomes mean, obsessive and controlling in all her relationships. Don't let this rule your life, she is now alone and no one wants to ever visit her because she is afraid to drive, afraid to live outside her rigid routines. We always sit in her immaculate home at the kitchen table, my kids dreaded going over to grammas house, Her choices have made for a very sad life in my opinion and she is so set in her ways she refuses to change, and she has pushed many opportunists of friendship and love away from her. She is 66 now recently widowed and alone in her rigid ways..........just a heads up!

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    1. How did she help herself? I feel I wrote this it's me to a tee

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    2. How did she help herself? I feel I wrote this it's me to a tee

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    3. This is totally me. I was told recently, by one of my not so many friends, that I was rigid. It floored me. My x husband told me years ago I was and didn't care or believe him. I push people away and get angry when my house is not clean. I don't want to be like the above MIL.

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  5. Well, I happen to like rigidity. If being rigid makes you feel good, more power to you. Don't let anyone change you.

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  6. Like you, I'm not very big on flexibility. Therefore, I lean towards structure and always will.

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  7. I too like structure. It gives me peace of mind, stability, and safety. I'm not crazy about change, but am constantly working on adapting to differences over the years. It is not easy, but necessary.

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  8. I am also very rigid and inflexible. It makes life very difficult and stressful both in my personal life and at work and not just for me but for others. When there is a new routine I immediately close off become defensive and set out my position clearly for others to see. It makes me stressed and depressed. I am always left feeling guilty for being that way.

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