hand of stubbornness

STUBBORNNESS is one of seven basic character flaws or “dark” personality traits. We all have the potential for stubborn tendencies, but in people with a strong fear of change, Stubbornness can become a dominant pattern.

Stubbornness is a basic character flaw or personality defect, one of seven possible chief features adopted in adolescence to protect the self at the level of false personality.

Stubbornness is the tendency to resist any form of change. It is defined as:

refusing to move or change one’s opinion; [1]

the trait of being difficult to handle or overcome; resolute adherence to your own ideas or desires [2]

Other names for stubbornness include dogged insistence, intransigence, temerity and pig-headedness.

Stubbornness is essentially an entrenched resistance to change. And given that life is all about change, stubbornness is effectively a resistance to life itself.

The person with stubbornness is driven by a fundamental resistance to being forced to do anything or experience anything against his will. The basic stance is, “No, I won’t, and you can’t make me.”

The personality with stubbornness is over-sensitive to the possibility of having sudden or unwanted change imposed upon itself, and sees the threat of it everywhere. Anything new or different or involving change is perceived (subconsciously at least) as a direct threat—even if the change in question is positive and in the person’s best interests.

Like all character flaws, stubbornness involves the following components:

  1. Early negative experiences
  2. Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
  3. A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  4. A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
  5. A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood

Early Negative Experiences

In the case of stubbornness, the early negative experiences typically consist of domestic instability or upheaval and the streess of having to suddenly put up with new situations. The situations causing such stress could be beyond the parents’ control, such as having to uproot in a time of war.

Alternatively, the stressful instability (as the child experiences it) could be of the parents’ own choosing, such as constantly moving home to find a better job. Most often, perhaps, it is just part of ordinary family life—the arrival of a new baby, for instance.

Whatever the circumstances, the core experience for the child in question is the shock of the new. Just when the child thought she knew where she was, living safely at home with her best friends and her favourite toys, without any warning she is whisked off to start afresh in a new, unfamiliar place. Change has been imposed against her will, and it has caused unbearable stress.

The cumulative effect is a desparate desire for stability and familiarity, to stay put and have everything nailed into place, and to fend off anything new or unfamiliar.

Misconceptions

From such experiences of sudden instability and imposed change, the child comes to perceive life as being unstable and volatile:

New situations are traumatic and must be avoided.

People want to impose drastic changes on me against my will.

A big enough change in my life could destroy me.

Fear

Based on the above misconceptions and early negative experiences, the child becomes gripped by a specific kind of fear. In this case, of course, the fear is of new situationsof having new, unfamiliar circumstances imposed upon oneself.

stubornness childStrategy

Because of this constant fear, the individual will crave permanance, stability and predictability. So the basic coping strategy is to resist change and any possibilty of change.

Typically this involves:

  • refusing to change or to accept new situations when asked to do so;
  • blocking the emergence of new/unfamiliar situations;
  • perceiving and anticipating every possibility of change or novelty so that it can be blocked;
  • denying that there is ever a need for change;
  • resisting internal pressures or impulses to change oneself.

In the case of illness, for example —

The chief feature of stubbornness will often insist nothing is wrong in the first place, no matter what evidence there is to the contrary, but once illness has occurred, it then strives to continue the pattern so that nothing so dangerous as new improvement is permitted.
MICHAEL

Persona

Finally, emerging into adulthood, the individual does not want go around being overtly afraid of new situations. Hence stubbornness puts on a mask which says to the world, “It’s not me—it’s just this situation. Changing it would be wrong and unnecessary. Everything is fine the way it is, actually.”

Under the guise of reasonableness and logic, the underlying fear tries to have its way. All new ideas are supposedly unreasonable and illogical. All actual changes are unnecessary and bad.

When this doesn’t work, however, the mask comes off and the underlying shadow or “inner demon” is likely to emerge in a fit of rage. “How dare you do this to me? It’s totally outrageous!” The rage is driven by a deep inner sense of overwhelming panic over the new situation.

All people are capable of this kind of behaviour. When it dominates the personality, however, one is said to have a chief feature of stubbornness.

Positive and Negative Poles

In the case of stubbornness, the positive pole can be termed DETERMINATION and the negative pole can be termed OBSTINACY.

+ determination +

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STUBBORNNESS

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– obstinacy –

Determination is state of mind that ensures a good enough situation is maintained: It ought to be this way because it makes sense. In moderation, this can be healthy or at least a healthy antidote to any kind of victim state.

grumpyObstinacy, however, is a state of excessive fixation on an existing situation, regardless of logic, regardless of desirability. It must be this way because I say so and I don’t care what anyone else says. Obstinacy will cause a person to cling to a terrible situation for no reason other than to avoid the possibility of facing change.

Handling Stubbornness

Stubbornness is the most prevalent character flaw there is. We all have some degree of stubbornness withion us, but more people have stubbornness as their chief feature than any other.

As with every chief feature, the key is becoming conscious of how stubbornness operates in oneself. If you have stubbornness, you can begin by observing your outward persona in action:

  • Do I have a tendency to justify the status quo?
  • Do I generally argue against change or newness on seemingly logical grounds?
  • Do I often deride new ideas or suggestions?

Try to catch yourself in the act of putting on your “Leave well alone!” mask.

Then dig deeper:

  • Why do I resist change, newness? What am I afraid of?
  • What do I fear would happen to me if I allowed uncontrollable chnges to happen?

Approaching the deepest level you may need outside help in the form of a counsellor, therapist or at least a close friend:

  • Where does this fear of new situations come from?
  • How was I hurt in the past?
  • Can I let it go?

Just as you can become more aware of stubbornness through self-observation and self-enquiry, so too you can gain more control over it through using that awareness and by exercising choice in the moment.

  • Whenever I am tempted to resist or attack people who want to change the status quo, I will consider the unreasonableness of my intentions rather than just theirs.
  • I understand that resistance to change is a resistance to life itself and leads nowhere.
  • I will be more willing to allow ordinary changes to happen in my life, knowing that they won’t destroy me.

Another way to handle a chief feature is to “slide” to the positive pole of its opposite. In the case of stubbornness, though, there is no opposite. It is the only neutral form of chief feature—which means it has no polar opposite, being positioned at the intersection of all the dualities.

7 CFs 300

This allows for greater flexibility, however. A person with stubbornness can easily “slide” from neutral into any of the other chief feature positions, such as greed or martyrdom.

If you are getting caught in the grip of stubbornness’s negative pole of obstinacy, you can re-balance yourself using the positive pole of any of the six other defensive patterns:

  • desire (the positive pole of greed)
  • sacrifice (the positive pole of self-destruction)
  • pride (the positive pole of arrogance)
  • humility (the positive pole of self-deprecation)
  • audacity (the positive pole of impatience)
  • selflessness (the positive pole of martyrdom)

In each case, there is a determination to cause, or allow, things to change—and determination is the positive pole of stubbornness.

For example, when you are stuck in obstinacy, sitting with “I won’t allow it! I won’t allow it!”, your attention is wrapped up in the imposition of change and your sole intention is to resist that. To loosen the grip of stubbornness you have to you turn your attention to some other aspect of the situation:

  • What’s in it for me? (desire)
  • Even though I don’t like it, will it help someone I care about? (sacrifice)
  • Will it make me feel better about myself? (pride)
  • Will it help bring my ego down to earth? (humility)
  • Will it buy me time to do what I really want to do? (audacity)
  • Is it just what’s needed, regardless of what I want? (selflessness)

By paying attention to one of these aspects of the situation, your fixation on the change itself is loosened. And by being willing to go with one of these aspects, your intention to resist is overcome.

Further Reading

Read an overview of the 7 character flaws – or see these specific pages:

TYDOr for an excellent book about the chief features (character flaws) and how to handle them, see Transforming Your Dragons by José Stevens.

Also of interest: Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the stubbornest of them all? (A Colorful Mind blog)

[1] http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/stubborn

[2] wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

54 Responses to “Stubbornness”


  1. 1 martine 28 Dec 2010 at 3:01 am

    Thank you very much for a most interesting article. I am doing research on father/daughter incestuous relationship and the consequences it has on the behavior of the abused adult. While your article did not directly address my research, it was enlightening regarding the construction of civil identity. Do you have any recommendation for my research?
    Thank you so much. Martine Louis

    • 2 barry 28 Dec 2010 at 11:43 am

      Hi Martine

      I’m not an expert in that field, but I would say that the link between early experience (such as incestuous abuse) and later behaviour is not one-to-one but is mediated by many variables. One of these is the personality of the child. Some children are very adaptive and resilient, for example, while others are more prone to crumble. Another is the child’s worldview (initially passed on by the parents). For example, belief in a world in which bad things happen to bad people because they deserve it is likely to lead to an interpretation of abusive events in terms of the child being deserving of it. Take a look at my page on Self-destruction for more along this line of thinking.

      Hope this helps.

      barry

  2. 3 martine 28 Dec 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Very helpful, thank you.
    I am older, 70. Your article on self-destruction has helped me understand why I was so self-destructive during my whole life, biting myself to the blood, making all the wrong decisions, etc… etc… manifestations of wild anger…. I am now in a position to avoid the triggering moments. So I think that I am under control, but I know better. We do not change that much. Our circumstances change, and we do make efforts, but the wild beast is always present in some of us.
    I am doing this research because I am writing a novel which, I hope, will be meaningful and enlightening.
    Your writings are most interesting. Best, Martine

  3. 4 kavyashree 08 Oct 2011 at 2:19 pm

    this paragraph is just the perfect ones i have been looking for my thought!!!

    • 5 barry 08 Oct 2011 at 2:44 pm

      great 🙂

  4. 6 rachel fenton 11 Jun 2012 at 5:23 am

    wow! Just amazing! This is very helpful upon me. I’ve been told that im stubborn and denyed it but reading this proves that iam and the cooping skills to help stubborness are great. I think it will be alot easyier for me to stop being so scared and stubborn to change.

    • 7 barry 11 Jun 2012 at 6:26 am

      Brilliant! Thanks Rachel

  5. 8 Daughter of a stubborn Dad 01 Aug 2012 at 5:58 pm

    This article is awesome and hits the nail right on the head describing my father. My family is having problems with my father who is in charge of our family business. He has always (since I can remember) exhibited symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety but never been diagnosed with anything (because he refuses to seek help since “nothing is wrong with him”). Last month he tried to commit suicide, but was unsuccessful. He was admitted to a mental hospital for a week, then released after he promised to continued to see his psychiatrist and a psychologist. He saw both once and now does not see the need to schedule more appointments. The family wants him to retire from the family business (he is 71) to reduce his stress, but he refuses. He did admit to the Dr. that the reason he tried to commit suicide was due to the stress and pressures he could not control at work. Now he wants to go back to work and change nothing. He cannot finish the simplest of tasks (ie: printing a form from his computer to the printer) without exhibiting great stress. He is afraid of change and I’m afraid that we will be unable to help him change this stubborn personality – which will again lead to him possibly hurting himself or others. It is a terrible situation for the family and we feel helpless. The mental health system is not helpful at all when an adult patient will not admit that they need help!
    ~So frustrated and sad.

    • 9 barry 01 Aug 2012 at 9:15 pm

      Such a painful situation. My heart goes out to you all.

  6. 10 Roseann 08 Oct 2012 at 11:57 am

    Stubborness to the point of almost or actually being pathological has probably destroyed more lives than people will ever realize. Living with someone who must control their own every move and word and your every move and word and refuses to change has caused such destruction in our family. It is sad. The only way to protect ourselves was to just finally leave. We haven’t left him in the lurch, but we keep our visits with him to a minimum.

  7. 11 Confused and frustrated... 22 Oct 2012 at 7:49 am

    This is a great article ane really does explain stubbornness well, I wish there was a secret word or method to getting through to someone who has taken on this personality trait. As it says early on in the article, stubbornness is a basic character flaw and is a resistance to life itself. Astonishining how someone can be this way and think that they are happy, anyone have some insight? I could use some right now!

    • 12 barry 23 Oct 2012 at 7:26 pm

      Well, like all of these defensive patterns, stubbornness operates under the surface, more-or-less unconsciously. Stubbornness automatically perceives change as a threat and automatically resists it, like there is no other choice.

      And the booby-trap here is that in trying to get him to be less stubborn, you are trying to make him change.

      If you try to point out to a person that they have such a pattern while they are still hooked on the fear of change, then they will simply try to justify it. To them, life is like walking through a hail of gunfire, and if you point out that they are always seem to be wearing a suit of armour then … “Yeah, of course I am. What’s wrong with that?”

      And if you suggest that they would be better off being more exposed and less rigid, you are literally suggesting the very last change they would ever be willing to accept.

      One approach might be to gently address his attitude to change in general. The operative word is “gently” as any attempt to dig, prod or CHANGE him is going to be automatically resisted. But maybe explore some positives: What constitutes an acceptable change? Have there been times when he has rolled with the changes without a problem? Have there been times when he has willingly chosen to accept a change? And it’s turned out fine?

      This might enable him to see the distinction between automatically resisting change by default and consciously choosing to accept (or resist) change. Note especially that having conscious choice doesn’t mean “I have to accept.” It means “I am free to accept or resist as I see fit, to choose whatever I consider to be in the best interests of myself and my loved ones.”

      But automatic resistance means “I have no choice.”

      Bringing the fixed pattern and the irrational fear behind it to the surface where it can be observed and considered rationally is probably much less threatening than any external demand for change…

  8. 13 Diane Buscaglia 18 Mar 2013 at 9:08 pm

    thank you SO much for the enlightening words.

  9. 14 alicia Allanson 24 Jun 2013 at 2:18 am

    A work mate referred me to this resource. Thnx for the information.

  10. 15 Sarah R. Lane 20 Nov 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Barry,

    I very much understand myself, yet I am confused as to my role with my child. I provide for his needs, and love him. I feel like there is more I should or could do to aid him on his journey. How do I figure out what that is? He is 5 years old.

    -Sarah R. Lane

    • 16 barry 29 Dec 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Apologies for my very late response – I have built up a backlog of 23 unanswered questions/comments during an extended period of low health. Anyway…

      My suspicion is that you “know” this being who is currently here as your 5 year old boy, but as a mere 5 year old boy he isn’t yet ready to benefit from what you are able to give him.

      In other words, the two of you have “signed up” to this particular form of parent-child relationship in which you will be able facilitate something in him – as you say, “to aid him on his journey.” But it won’t be happening just yet. Maybe it’s when he’s 10, or as a teenager, or maybe it’s something less specific but spanning his entire childhood with you.

      Maybe it’s already happening by osmosis, and you just can’t see it on the surface.

      But by the sound of it, there is likely something planned in the future in which you will play a pivotal role for him in his development in this life. I guess you will know it when you see it.

      How to figure exactly out what it is? One way to answer that is to take a philosophical approach and say that you don’t *have* to know what it is, it will most likely just unfold anyway. But I get that you are keen to get it right and “scratch that itch” of not-knowing. Two options come to mind.

      1. You could get a formal reading from a Michael channel or some other psychic who knows what they are talking about. (A lot of them don’t.) See the list of links near the bottom of my page on the Michael Teachings (http://personalityspirituality.net/articles/the-michael-teachings/).

      2. Go deep inside yourself in reflection (contemplation, meditation, introspection, self-enquiry, however you like to call it). Lock yourself away in a quiet room for up to an hour, with a journal to hand. Ask yourself what it is that you are here to give this person or soul who is in your life? What is it that they could really receive from you that would be of greatest value? … If you drift off, ask again, and be clear in your own mind that you really mean to know the answer during this session … Try to feel your way to the truth rather than “construct” a nice answer or a rational answer. It’s like finding your way through the unknown just using your feeling of truth (“warmer” vs “colder”) as your compass. Eventually, you might just get it and know that it’s exactly right.

      Hope this helps,

      Barry

  11. 17 Sarah R. Lane 29 Dec 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Thank you,
    -Sarah

    • 18 Anisa 03 Mar 2014 at 9:47 am

      I understand myself more now. Thank you for enlighten me. I needed to read this thanks again!

  12. 19 KS 25 Feb 2014 at 1:09 am

    Hi there I have just read this and it’s very interesting… I wonder if stubbornness can be a learned thing rather than from childhood experiences? Someone who was in my life until recently is SO stubborn she simply will not allow herself to experience change, even if she knows it is good for her. However as far as I can tell she had no trauma or upheaval in her childhood but her behaviour is the exact pattern of her father who did experience upheaval and dreadful tragedy in his life childhood. It has been pointed out to her, many times from what she said, how much she is like her father and that her stubborn nature is a reflection of him. It has never been said as a compliment but she seems to wear it like a badge of honour. Her defence is that her father is only ever about his family and he would go to any lengths to provide for them. Yet then contradicts this by pointing out that if her son (non biological son) had a serious asthma attack while is her fathers charge he would make no effort to medicate the boy and simply doesn’t acknowledge how serious the condition is. The man is stubborn to the point of death occurring.

    My question is do you believe that stubbornness can be a childhood learning rather than a childhood trauma?

    I also see the exact same pattern occurring in her daughter (biological) who also seems to live in a place of utter fear and cannot cope with change at all.

    • 20 Anonymous 30 Dec 2015 at 5:49 am

      Hi KS,

      This is very interesting. I just want to say, in my family line, we have a long history of people whom have lost a mother and/or father figure at a very young age.

      Both of my parents lost their mothers at young ages, and the list goes way back in time of loss of a loved one (i.e. primary mother role) as a young child (i.e. abandoned). This deffo leads to lots of feeling of insecurity in life, as life at an early age becomes unpredictable if there is such tremendous level of loss + probably unprocessed grief later in life for all of the experiences one missed out on.

      I believe that in an attempt to help the next generation survive, these memories become imprinted w/i the genetic DNA, or library of experience, and then passed down to the next generation, enabling “survival of the fittest” based on all generations’ past experience.

      If a child loses a primary care giver, source of trust and love, and solid stability/support early in life, I can see how one would formulate the childhood belief of “the world is not a safe place” and/or “change is threatening”, b/c in this case, it is quite literally a threat to one’s survival.

      You can see when you look at people’s experiences and your family heritage often times where your “negative” or “dark” character traits come from. The key is awareness, b/c then you have the power to make a conscious choice to affirm that even though your genetic memory may unconsciously be sending you the message that “change = Loss of Life”, you can remind yourself that these are past memories from your family line, and that in fact, change is beautiful and that ALL of life is change. Life is love in motion, and love is a verb. To love is to grow, to evolve, to expand, to explore. Trust Life. To do so is to rid the karmic fear of loss of dear ones early in life which fuels such resistance.

      I wish so much peace and love to you all!!!

    • 21 Anonymous 30 Dec 2015 at 5:59 am

      To add on to my previous comment, I was just thinking a/b survival of the fittest, Darwin’s theory of evolution, and the fact that stubbornness is central and the most common experience. I suppose stubbornness could also be reported as the extreme version of an obstinate will to survive, against all odds. In families where there is a tragic death (or multiple), before one reaches adulthood, stubborn-ness can be seen as a refusal to give up on life. A refusal to lie down and quit. A willingness to keep going, despite the odds, and to persevere and to survive. Some of the most amazing people in my life, have experienced such defeating odds and some very sad losses of family members at a young age. This has molded and shaped their character into sensitive, cooperative beings who *know* the pain of loss and loneliness, and work hard to ensure the next generation survives and thrives. There is a positive pole to stubbornness, and I think it is the refusal to give up when life throws you odds. That is just my 2c. I wish you all Peace, I wish you all Love, and I wish you all courage to persevere despite the odds. <3

    • 22 Anonymous 01 Jan 2016 at 2:18 am

      Hello Friends,

      Upon reflecting upon my previous comments, I realize that they were a bit rushed, w/o much meditation. Now that I have thought about them some more, I want to add something really beautiful.

      This might sound very “woo woo” to some, but let’s just flow with it, shall we?

      Numerologically, just about every member of my extended family on either side (mom and dad’s) have a master number in their charts, being 9, 11, or 22. Both of my grandfathers, whom lost their wives at young ages due to health concerns or a car accident, were 22s. It has been written, and one can be skeptical about this, that a master number soul is one whom takes on additional challenges. With these challenges, are opportunities to learn greater lessons that are not provided w/o taking on these challenges. The challenges enable one a greater depth, a greater sensitivity, and hopefully a greater mastery.

      I have found, that some of the most sensitive, kindest, and most caring souls, are those whom have known suffering deeply, and have found their way out of the depths of this suffering. Typically these are those that long to help others to do the same, once their suffering turns to a space of Love. We are here to heal the suffering- our own and others’. We do that by bearing witness to it, and providing space for it to be acknowledged. Once this is done, I have found, fear subsides, Love permeates, and the need to resort to negative character traits diminishes.

      I wish you and your family so much joy and comfort, KS. One day, I would like to become a spiritual counselor to help others whom have suffered, as I have felt the generations of suffering of the loss that has come before. Perhaps I am just an old soul. 😉 I pray for love for each and every one of you guys, and that your families may be blessed with love.

      Wishing you each thoughts of peace and prayers.

    • 23 Anonymous 01 Jan 2016 at 5:18 am

      Also my family’s surname/given name also vibrates tonally to the numerology of 22, so there is also that connection. 🙂 So much Love, Peace, Well Being and Wishes for Fulfillment to All!!! <3 May your New Year bring you and all you love many adventures, dreams fulfilled, visions manifested and love shared with those you hold so dearly. All the best wishes to you all!!

  13. 24 Anonymous 22 Mar 2014 at 6:22 am

    What if the person that is being considered stubborn is merely not wanting to do something based on facts? What if the person who is calling the other person stubborn is just ignorant of the facts in the matter (or chooses to ignore them like a child)? Just because everyone is doing it does not make it okay. This applies to every situation. A rare majority of stubborn people are not actually stubborn, they just have the highest IQ in the room and cant stand being around infantile little babies that have no respect for objective scientific inquiry.

  14. 26 JJ 19 Apr 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I have a very stubborn mother-in-law who prides herself on “telling it like it is” and proudly states that her tongue will be the last “thing to go” on her body. She has an opinion on how everyone else should live and manage their money, Her stubbornness and arrogance landed her in the hospital several times. She follows no one’s advice be it the hospital, the doctors, the physical therapists and social services — all of whom are trying to give her information so that she can understand the system and make good decisions. Oh no, she knows better than everybody and screams and tells the whole lot that she “knows better than all of you.” A girlfriend of mine discusses her mother who will make no accommodation to help herself or her husband medically. Even understanding that change is scary, I believe these women truly border on mentally incompetent. They are not going to change, so my question is, how we interact with them? We really try and limit our contact with them already.

    • 27 barry 20 Oct 2014 at 9:19 am

      My mother had a huge feature of stubbornness as well as a basic goal of dominance (http://personalityspirituality.net/articles/the-michael-teachings/goal/dominance/). She would have her own way and not have it any other way.

      I learned to respect her dominance – she had the competence to make decisions, which my father didn’t.

      But her stubbornness got her into trouble and some relationships ended because of it. I learned that if you tell a stubborn person “I wish you wouldn’t do that”, all they hear is “I want to change you against your will”, which is precisely what they resist.

      A better way to handle another’s stubbornness is to calmly and sympathetically point out that their current position could lead to negative consequences FOR THEM, while at the same time indicating that YOU “don’t mind” what choice they make given that it’s their free will. Then they can not only envisage the negative outcome for themselves, they also know that the ball is in their court, AND they don’t have any imposition coming from you that they would feel the need to resist.

    • 28 Dr. Bob 26 Dec 2015 at 10:29 pm

      Hello JJ,

      I’ve known people like this all my life (my relatives), and I might have been such a person at one time (I was called, “stubborn” just this morning, which prompted me to read through a number of articles, beginning with the journals, and ending here), and there’s nothing you can do about them. The chief issue in this case is motivation. She has no reason to change, and while you might attribute this to stubbornness, I think she’s basically just plain mean and making no excuses for it. Folks like this steal (if you want to typify it this way) the life energy of others by being this way, and they don’t mind doing it. People like this will go to their graves (and some of the ones I know have literally done this) in denial of any problems or issues.

      While I scanned through this article (I do a LOT of scanning, since I’m a slow reader, and am only looking for the ideas), I recognized a bit of my own hard “determination” and am acutely aware of going to either of the poles of what people have called stubbornness. This force runs strong in my family.

      You may only take hope in that, someday, if she decides to do so, she’ll change on her own. You will never be able to do this, quite simply, because she will always see you as a, “younger,” whereas she is an elder, and, apparently, an alpha female. It’s doubtful that this will ever happen and you can bet that her tongue will, as she says, go when she does.

      Beware, if she has any control over you whatsoever, you’ll have to tolerate her, and if she doesn’t you don’t have to. Walk away. Everything really is that simple, and you don’t walk away, she’ll never respect you. This sort of person craves control over people, which will give her, “the right” to lord it over you and treat you badly. There’s little recourse to this but to be nasty back, except this will only ignite an argument and leave bad feelings that can last a lifetime.

      The correct answer is the social answer: ignore. Walk away and leave her to live with her rudeness, or however you wish to describe this (it’s not stubbornness, as I see it – it’s just plain meanness). Whatever you do, don’t ever accept money or gifts more than something small and unimportant from this woman.

      In the meantime, I would spend less time trying to “fix” your mother-in-law, and more time examining why it bothers you so.

      Dr. Bob

    • 29 JJ 28 Dec 2015 at 12:35 am

      Hello again,

      I just read your reply. How uncannily timely. Our recent holiday 2 days ago ended up as you predicted with me ” (being) nasty back” and igniting an argument. I found myself screaming at my MIL because of her personal comments, demands and complaints. This after having a lovely Christmas dinner in our home and giving her a gift of money (she worships money), and her grandson giving her a gift as well. She has no leash on her tongue. She has been described by a niece of hers EXACTLY as you did, “mean”. Just plain mean. Two years ago after hip surgery, rehab and a trial of her previous independent living situation, she ended up in the hospital with placement necessary. This was because she defied physical therapy’s advice on how to modify her enviornment for safety, Then, after being in assisted living for TWO DAYS, staff members independantly approached my husband and myself and described her as “bossy”. She denied this.

      You asked that I examine my reasons for trying to fix her, I think I try because I came from a large ethnic family and we were taught to respect our elders. The role of the female caregiver, My husband is an only child, left alone with her when he was 12 when his father died young of a heart attack. Poor man, we can see why. My husband has as little to do with her as possible. It’s a hateful, contentious relationship on his part. The man is in his 60s and the way he deals with her is not to talk to her unless necessary and tells me to do the same. But, but…I’m the good daughter.

      Ok, in writing this (and I edited out a lot!) I see a pattern. I can’t win with her, I can’t change her no matter how much I try and reason with her. She’s a nasty lady and her relationship with all the people that know her well is toxic. They stay away and she complains no one visits or calls.

      PLAN: I will re-establish boundaries (yes, she’s plowed through them before) , but I will be firm and consistent — as I was raising my kids. I’ve never come across anyone as ugly and formidable as her.

      Thank you so much for giving me this space to “think things out” and for your great insights, Keep ’em coming,

      JJ

  15. 30 Victoria alvin 23 May 2014 at 12:46 am

    Very helpful!

  16. 31 Violeta 02 Jun 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I grew up being told that I should behave like other children, dress differently, or speak differently. This was done by my own mother, and being a mother myself, I understand what she was trying to do but to the mind of a young child I felt that I was never good enough no matter what I did. In turn, I was called stubborn and eventually I wore that label with pride. I have learned to consider my words before I give a definite answer and I like change and accept the consequences as they come according to the choices I made at the moment, whether good or bad. I don’t like to be “forced” to do someone’s will because it will make their life better. I understand the sacrificial part, but hear this story: I was called stubborn because I wouldn’t marry someone, whom I’ve never dated and I have never loved. I was told by him and a couple of other people, that he was a great catch and I was being stubborn by not allowing his advances. Everyone knew what was best for my life and I should have listened. I did not marry him.
    I am in my mid-thirties. I think by now I have earned my right to decide what is and what is not best for my future. All stubbornness aside.

    • 32 barry 07 Jun 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Many thanks Violeta
      Sounds like you’ve mastered the positive pole of stubborness – the determination to stick to what you feel or know is right. I can also see how the negative label “stubborn” can be used on us by others as a way to shame us into changing what we’re doing or not doing. Which of course almost inevitably exacerbates our resistance to external pressures.
      B

    • 33 P.GW 19 Oct 2014 at 6:37 am

      I agree with you.I think by not marrying the person they all thought you should you were making your own choices,decisions as you should.As a competent adult we should be capable of making our own choices in way we want to live our life and every other choice ..you felt that this man they wanted you to marry was not the man you wanted.good for you.and especially at 32 you most certainly should unless there are factors that you have not included in your post..I think possibly your mother may have been made to live as she was trying to impose the same things on you thinking herself that was the way things were suppose to be.sometimes parents tend to raise their children in the same way they were raised..some as adults felt compelled maybe to just go along with what their parents a family thought was in their best interest,You were not being stubborn ,you were doing what you felt was right for you..

  17. 34 Kulin 18 Jun 2014 at 1:18 am

    I feel that stubborn person/child has to be dealt with differently. Like more attention, care & love. i learned from your article that such behavior are exhibited because of fear. Understanding this trait we can give assurance to the subject and give more freedom under strict observation.

  18. 35 Sanjiv 12 Aug 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I am trying for my personality makeover and first trait I identified is stubbornness in me. It comes from my earlier childhood and strong personalities of both my parents. I am 50 now and I need to change as it has started affecting my relationship with my spouse of 23 years and two daughters 22 and 16. Suggest something day to day I can do and have a road map too. Thanks sanjiv

    • 36 barry 17 Sep 2014 at 8:17 am

      Ok, but can you first give me an example – just so I know how it’s manifesting in your life. Thank you.
      Barry

  19. 37 nitin 14 Nov 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Wow really a impressive article,
    I am impressed.

  20. 38 Dana 12 Feb 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I was moved around as a child. Just as I settled, I was moved. I was born in the UK and moved to Asia and just as I had settled, moved back to the UK. Got settled into a high school and loved it and was then moved across town against my will and then moved to a new sixth form as they had a better record of A Level results.
    I have never lied about anyone but have been lied about constantly since I was sixteen because of a weird estranged relative who brought lots of weird people into my life despite not actually being in my life. All of them were liars and involved in things that were illegal and on their lies, all my security and stability was taken away. Following the rules and being good didn’t keep me safe because they didn’t follow the rules and they weren’t good. I have experienced life as being very arbitrary, unfair and unstable and have had no sense of security because of this weird person and all the weirdos that came into my life because of him. It has made me very angry where once I was a very sunny, funny, bubbly child. I am now an angry adult, angry at the injustice I have suffered ALL my life because people always believed the liars over me and sided with them over the innocent party. I am now someone who is very angry. I need help to deal with the psychological and emotional damage that these people have done to me.

    • 39 barry 12 Feb 2015 at 11:05 pm

      hi Dana,

      If you don’t mind me asking, when did all this happen and over what period of time?

  21. 40 teri 19 Feb 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I am personally dealing with a family situation that is very difficult. This article is great. I am accepting the situation although very difficult. Your article hit everything on the nail. A caner victim will not talk or visit with me. Thank you so much for this blog. I think this will help me. God bless you.

    • 41 barry 19 Feb 2015 at 11:44 pm

      I’m really glad you found it helpful.
      Cheers

  22. 42 saroj 01 Jun 2015 at 8:41 am

    Thank you it was so interesting that there are so many reasons to personality

  23. 43 katierose 02 Aug 2015 at 12:32 pm

    my girlfren calls me stubborn … finally i looked deeper into the word sturbborn… and everything it describes it im a perfect example… but my thing is how can i stop it?? i need to better my life ?? im stuck in an unfamiliar territory im super scared. and i need to face it, i dont know how to handle cha ges even when its for the better of me .let me know what i gota do please. im nearly 30 and ive got nothing to show for , im scared and afraid …. i can never complete ne task or handle important obligations. please save me

    • 44 Angela 04 Dec 2015 at 7:14 am

      Random stranger here, but I just want to say that it’s a great thing that now you know you have this quality in you. My father is the most stubborn person ever to the point that is has brought many fights in the family. The bad thing is he doesn’t know or believe he’s stubborn even though we tell him. He won’t even believe it if the whole world tells him which makes it hard when dealing with him in situations where an argument has risen due to his stubbornness. As someone who’s had to deal with a crazy stubborn father, my advice to you is that you be more open-minded and accepting of other people’s opinions, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, etc. You don’t have to agree with them but just say ok I see what you’re saying or agree to disagree. Cause you know, what makes you think you know all the answers? Or what makes you think that your way is the right and only way? So just know that EVERYONE has different perspectives, opinions, thoughts, beliefs, and that’s ok. I really wish my father would understand this.

  24. 45 John Smith 11 Sep 2015 at 5:02 am

    Stubbornness is not even a personality trait; you can’t derive any information from this. I’m not saying that SOME of the “claims” are incorrect, but don’t look at this article for advice. Source? scholar.google.com or open a psychology textbook… here is a good one on personality from amazon…Personality 9th Edition
    by Jerry M. Burger (Author)

    • 46 barry 11 Sep 2015 at 10:35 am

      Yes, do look it up with Google Scholar. But first realise that, as so often happens in psychology, it has been given a name that lay people would not be familiar with: “reactance”. It can be defined as a strongly-motivated resistance to persuasion or any perceived impositions or curtailment of freedom; in other words, angrily refusing to play along — even if playing along might be the more rational option. Measurement scales for reactance have been developed and are in use. Numerous studies suggest that trait reactance overlaps with the lay notion of stubbornness. Healthy reactance makes us resistant to comply with potentially threatening suggestions; unhealthy reactance treats even potential opportunities as threats.

  25. 47 tushar 17 Sep 2015 at 3:52 pm

    the positive idea to work in the company like bpo

  26. 48 coleen 04 Nov 2015 at 10:40 am

    Coleen November 3, 2015 .
    It so surprise someone told me how stubborn I am, I had.though that is was normal, not so much a bad thing. No I realize its not good. I agree that its a sense of fear, and wanting thing sometimes my way, fear of change and hurt. I have been hurt growing up so I don’t know if it has anything to do with my behavior. Sense of fear of losing of control, disappoint.

  27. 49 Angela 04 Dec 2015 at 7:05 am

    I can see why stubbornness is such a big flaw in someone’s personality. My father is the most stubborn person anyone in our family knows. And because of this, it has caused a lot of fights between us and him. There’s been times where he blows up on one of us and most often the not, the true reason is because of this stubbornness. He can never admit that he’s wrong; he believes that everything he knows/believes is the truth and the right way. Even when he is proven wrong, he still says he’s right. This is what I don’t understand about someone who’s stubborn. What kind of person does this?
    The older I get (now 21) the more I realize how stubborn and crazy of a person he is and the harder it is for me to deal with this fact. My older siblings have always just let him be because “this is him, it’s who he is and we can’t change that.” But I just can’t seem to sit here and have him go about his ways whenever we get in an argument. He starts screaming over me telling me to be quiet and listen to him when he is in fact wrong. I can’t do this, I need to talk back and defend myself and tell him that he’s behaving like a child, which only angers him more and doesn’t resolve anything. I just want to know how to deal with him in situations like these.

  28. 50 Anonymous 30 Dec 2015 at 5:39 am

    Hi everyone,

    This is very interesting. I just want to say, in my family line, we have a long history of people whom have lost a mother and/or father figure at a very young age.

    Both of my parents lost their mothers at young ages, and the list goes way back in time of loss of a loved one (i.e. primary mother role) as a young child (i.e. abandoned). This deffo leads to lots of feeling of insecurity in life, as life at an early age becomes unpredictable if there is such tremendous level of loss + probably unprocessed grief later in life for all of the experiences one missed out on.

    I believe that in an attempt to help the next generation survive, these memories become imprinted w/i the genetic DNA, or library of experience, and then passed down to the next generation, enabling “survival of the fittest” based on all generations’ past experience.

    If a child loses a primary care giver, source of trust and love, and solid stability/support early in life, I can see how one would formulate the childhood belief of “the world is not a safe place” and/or “change is threatening”, b/c in this case, it is quite literally a threat to one’s survival.

    You can see when you look at people’s experiences and your family heritage often times where your “negative” or “dark” character traits come from. The key is awareness, b/c then you have the power to make a conscious choice to affirm that even though your genetic memory may unconsciously be sending you the message that “change = Loss of Life”, you can remind yourself that these are past memories from your family line, and that in fact, change is beautiful and that ALL of life is change. Life is love in motion, and love is a verb. To love is to grow, to evolve, to expand, to explore. Trust Life. To do so is to rid the karmic fear of loss of dear ones early in life which fuels such resistance.

    I wish so much peace and love to you all!!!

  29. 51 Vaneet 10 Feb 2016 at 6:41 pm

    What is the solution

    • 52 JC 25 Feb 2016 at 10:33 pm

      Trust GOD. 7″Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. 8″For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17


  1. 1 Stubbornness « The Noontimes Trackback on 19 Feb 2013 at 6:02 pm
  2. 2 Genesis Character Introduction: Victoria Bouchard | Fiction for the Masses Trackback on 01 Oct 2014 at 6:05 pm

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