Stubbornness is, essentially, a determination to fight a losing battle with reality, while accepting as a “reward” for the effort the gift-wrapped deadweight of rigidity and resentment.
My apologies to Frank Sinatra fans, but I believe the theme song or anthem for stubbornness is the old favorite, “My Way.” One stanza stands out:
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew/ When I bit off more than I could chew./ But through it all, when there was doubt,/ I ate it up and spit it out./ I faced it all and I stood tall,/ And did it my way.
Sure—my way or the highway! When we’re smart and wise, we don’t put the emphasis on my way. We’re just pleased and grateful to find a good, sensible, or brave way to travel “each and ev’ry highway.”
Of course, stubbornness can sometimes be a virtue, as when we adhere bravely to a sound principle in the face of opposition. This post, though, is about the self-defeating expression of it.
Stubbornness and denial are two bad apples in the same basket. The former tends to be a conscious expression of opposition, as in a lady’s stubborn refusal to reunite with an estranged family member, while the latter is likely to refer to an unconscious form of the behavior, as in a man’s denial that his drinking problem is going to get him fired.
Stubbornness is usually a reaction to underlying emotional issues. If we can make these issues conscious and keep them in focus, we have a good chance of letting go of our mulish attitude and the suffering it brings on. Basically, obstinacy is a symptom of three different emotional issues in our psyche. [Read more…]