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Why You Need to Stop Being So Stubborn

© Krista Stryker 2011
Anyone you ask will tell you that I am a notoriously stubborn person.  I am highly aware of this, and, admittedly, even a little proud of it at times.

Ask me to do something and I will undoubtedly want to do its opposite.  The words you have to do/try/read/watch/etc. are my biggest turn offs; the second they come out of someone's mouth I completely shut down.  This is true even when I know that person has my best interests at heart, and yes, even when I know that I probably will like the food/blog/film recommended to me.

I just don't like to be told what to do.

Stubbornness as an asset

I know I'm not alone here.  I come from a bright and incredibly stubborn family and I'm convinced that Westerners in general are a dogged breed.  Also, my generation (Gen Y) has a reputation for being ornery, spoiled brats (it's true). 

Without a doubt, there have been times where my stubbornness has helped me.  Like my refusal to sign on to a boring, unchallenging job/career where my soul will slowly be sucked from me.  Or when I decline to eat meat even though a good friend tells me I just have to try it (I've been a vegetarian by personal choice since I was six years old).  Or when I use my stubbornness to stand up for what I believe in (the environment, politics, religion, etc.) and refuse to give into other people's views.

I'm sure you've had times like these too.  This is when stubbornness is at its best, blending with morality to give you your unique personality and views on life and humankind.

When stubbornness is a liability

Though it can be a useful attribute at times, stubbornness in its usual form is disadvantageous and leads to a negative outcome.  Being bullheaded just for the sake of not giving into someone else's desires is more often than not detrimental to a person's own well being.  

Sound familiar?

How often have you not tried a bite of food that actually looked pretty good just because the person offering it to you was being over-the-top pushy?

Do you ever refuse to do something that you actually want to do because another person (your partner, family member, friend, etc.) wants you to?

Have you ever protested against reading to/listening to/watching something just because it was popular or "everyone liked it" even though you actually wanted to read/listen/see it?

I have.

Stubbornness can hurt you - literally! 

One of the things I've been most stubborn about for years now is doing yoga.  I've rallied against it, refusing to practice it myself and even telling others that it was lame and not to do it.  Yes, I had some legitimate reasons to avoid it (it doesn't burn many calories, should not be a person's only form of exercise, etc.), but I was mostly just stubborn.  

Well, my avoidance of yoga and most recovery-centered exercise came back to bite me in the butt.  Doing only intense (HIIT) exercise six or seven days a week broke my body down and left me with injury after injury - shin splints, a misplaced rib, pulled muscles, even a broken bone in my foot.  My stubbornness was literally hurting me.

So I gave in.  I've been doing a little yoga here and there, no 90 minute classes, mind you (I can't think of a worse torture), but some stretching and poses a few times a week after my other workouts or on rest days.  I still find it boring, and would much rather be doing something more active, but I will freely admit that I am less injured than I was without it.

I let go of my stubbornness, admitted my inflexible view on yoga had been pure bullheadedness, and felt a weight lift from my shoulders in the process.

Admitting you're wrong

Letting go of your stubbornness can be tough.

Admitting you were wrong to be stubborn in the first place can be even harder.

But the next time you're feeling stubborn, ask yourself, am I standing up for something I believe in, or just being stubborn for pride's sake?  If the answer is the latter, try to budge a little and admit your mistake.  You'll become a better, more open-minded (and happier!) person because of it.

PS.  Smiling helps too - a smile can help you realize how ridiculous you're really being and lighten up the situation (my go-to method for letting go).  

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