Stubborness = resistance to change.
We’ve all heard stories of people who refuse to leave their homes in an emergency.
Whether it’s a fire, mudslide, hurricane or other natural disaster.
Yet some people ignore evacuation orders and stay to “protect” their home.
Note: not everyone can be grouped into the too fucking stubborn camp. Some people don’t have another place to go or the funds to travel and sustain themselves somewhere else.
But what are they really protecting?
Today, we’re going to learn if stubborness is really a bad thing, how to tell who has it in your life and how to work on fixing it in yourself — since we can’t force change or control other people.
IS STUBBORNESS A BAD THING?
Yes, but with some exceptions.
We love pointing to famous examples of stubborn behavior as if to say well if Steve Jobs was stubborn in business how could it be bad? We have to remember that sometimes we get lucky. Also, sometimes certain ideas just work. Even if the person making them is an asshole, or difficult to work with. I’m looking at you Elon “Tusk”…
Lets look at the more common ways we see stubbornness in society. We need to define stubbornness first.
To be stubborn is to reject the flow of all nature in the universe. Things grow, things change. So why should people be different?
I think we all know a few people who cling to the beliefs they’ve lived with their entire lives. Certainly I’ve had people in my life were like that.
And I always used to note to myself: be different. However, that trap I fell into was doing the opposite of the people I was trying not to be. Which became a habit of itself. So after enough time had passed I had a different set of beliefs… that I held onto rigidly.
Lets be honest, this is all about control.
We desperately want some small part of our lives to be in our control. But this “control” is always elusive. We may fool ourselves into thinking we have it. Go out of our way to obtain it all costs. Only for fortune to pull it out of our hands with no notice at anytime. For no reason.
The challenge as always is self awareness. We have to have a certain level of awareness to notice our own stories and how they affect the people in our lives. Once we’re aware of our lack of flexibility. We can take action — the only road that leads to freedom.
HOW DO I KNOW IF IM STUBBORN?
The general feeling of stubbornness is rigidity.
When your body tightens and tenses up. When you clench your jaw. When someone offers a belief, data, or opinion that differs from the ones prominent in your story. And you react instead of respond.
Stubbornness is something that people will rarely point out to you. Unless it’s someone close to you who is overwhelmed by your lack of flexibility, it will rarely come up. It’s often quite ugly when it does come up.
The real trouble with stubborness is that it masqurades as pride. While having pride in yourself is worthy, too much of it (like anything else) can become an obstacle.
Think about it. If you have to justify every “negative” comment to puff yourself up and the person criticizing you beneath you… how does this help?
It doesn’t but it does keep you engaged, distracted and unlikely to change. But like all change, sometimes events are forced into our lives and then we have to take some action.
The biggest indicator of stubbornness is your level of open mindedness. Being open minded doesn’t mean adopting every new viewpoint, it just means you can hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time — without freaking out.
HOW CAN I FIX STUBBORNESS?
This is a much harder question to answer. It will be a long process.
Any change is always possible. The key is flexibility. Challenging yourself (and your beliefs) is hard work. No one likes turning their life upside down. But this is what changing beliefs is like. It does suck at first, all discomfort is otherwise we’d have a different word for it!
But slowly, you realize that you’re still alive after the change. And mayyyyyyyyyybe it wasn’t as bad as you thought?
Most of the time, the amount we predict a situation to suck never matches the actual discomfort we feel.
Take a topic like working on anxiety in social situations. Some mental health professionals have advised on using a journal or ledger to predict how much you think a thing will suck before you do it and then go back later to compare your experience to your expectations.
This sounds like more work than it is. But this is just a fear we have to face. Remember. so much of life is facing fears and then growing from where we used to be to the new place we stand in for today.
Because, you guessed it, tomorrow things will change again. Being flexible and adaptable has so many advantages. Stubborn people will naturally only like being around people who share similar beliefs. They wont be able to handle new ideas when they emerge in society.
This is how much and how often beliefs change. Pretty much everything that was on TV when I was growing up is wrong. The trendy slang terms we came up with are interpreted differently. Things that are acceptable in one decade become intolerable in the next.
This is more than okay, because it mirrors the change we need to accept. However, there is more to be cautious of than the obviously clinglyness to old ideas.
There can be a tendency to use logic and data to claim that our ideas are more rational than they really are. This is just a different form of stubbornness UNLESS its an open minded form of rationality.
There is a subtle but real difference between using logic to beat people into submission who can’t reason as strongly as you and using logic to understand without judgment.
Follow up questions are where you can see this part happening. The questions will be leading if it’s inauthentic. The insistence of needing data, while admirable, shouldn’t be used to “win” an argument. Also known as making sure you opponent loses. That brings us a win-lose situation. Data and logic have their places. But if the topic isn’t strictly measurable in the natural world, or if the measurements are “softer” it can be hard for understanding to occur.
So ask yourself:
How flexible am I really?
Do I think I’m right… all the time? This is even more important to ask when a subject your passionate about is being discussed. You’re more likely to believe your right when the topic is connected to your identity or story.
Everything attached to our identity and story is just as likely to be false than anything else. Yet we tend to reject arguments that counter our strong beliefs.
This is where self compassion can be useful to apply. You’re doing the hard work of being a good human being. This is your growth and your life. It’s important. Sending yourself compassion can give you the courage to hang in there and consider a world where we’re wrong sometimes.
Until we get some space from our strongest blind spots we can get a little stuck.
Have you had experience with stubborn people in your life?
How can you show people in your life that you’re truly flexible?