Sunday, November 8, 2009

Is Obstinance Slowing You Down?

"Stubbornness is the strength of the weak." Johann Kaspar Lavater

We all know them...those people who won't budge unless it's their idea. Have you ever tried to take a big dog for a walk when he didn't want to go? It can be comical, but frustrating.

I was enjoying an exhilarating run on my horse years ago when suddenly she came to an instant halt. Needless to say, I didn't. I continued my ride, but with no horse underneath. After I recovered my breath, if not my dignity, I walked 20 feet to where the mare stood waiting. I was furious and confused about why she would do this to me. I got back on and attempted to nudge her forward, but she wasn't about to move. After a bit of investigating, I saw that there was a cluster of boxed beehives just ahead. I hadn't been aware of the hazard but she was, and stubbornly kept us both safe.

On another occasion (with a different horse), I was riding my gelding (a neutered boy horse) with another person. We were on a trail heading up a mountain when I noticed that the mare wasn't very happy about my horse's nose getting so close to her rear end. (She was a lady, after all) I reined him in and tried to keep him at a comfortable distance, but he strained closer. Shortly, she sent a strong back let toward his amorous mug, but instead, connected with my shin. Imagine getting slammed in the leg with a baseball bat. I saw tweeting birds and bright lights for a while before I was able to continue back down the mountain.

People can be stubborn too...sometimes for prudent reasons and sometimes for ego or purely for pleasure. The next time you encounter a person who seems impossibly obstinate, examine what their motives are. Perhaps there is fear, insecurity or sincere caution keeping them from making a new move.

If you're the stubborn one, begin to give more thought to why you insist on doing things your way. If it's just habit or convenience, try opening your mind to fresh pathways. You'll likely arrive at the same destination but people around you won't feel like they've been kicked or thrown down. Old dogs (as well as horses and people) can learn new tricks if they're willing to try.

Who's the most stubborn person in your life? Why do you think they have this reputation and what is their motive? How's all that obstinate behavior workin' out?

Diane Markins


Jeff and JIll Williams said...

Diane, I really liked this. It made me think about how I was trained as a clinical counselor to speculate about the meaning and function of others behavior.

People generally have good reasons for the things they do, even if we don't understand what or why at first glance. Sometimes they (we) behave in a way makes sense in another context, but not in the present. Consider trauma victims such as soldiers who are triggered by fireworks. They sometimes run or take cover. It's a behavior that makes sense in the context of war, but not a 4th of July celebration.

One clinical supervisor alleviated a lot pressure I placed on myself early in my career to make my clients (youth) behave. "I'm paying you to understand their behavior, not to control it." After understanding it was possible to intervene in a helpful way; mostly to help them to understand their own behavior and emotions, which is a great goal for any therapeutic process.

In everyday life we can live more compassionately and effectively by pausing to consider the function and meaning of other's behavior. Often this can evoke compassionate feelings and behavior. In a nutshell, that is what Jesus did, and what He would have us do.


Jeff Williams

Anonymous said...

A timely devotion this morning! Thanks for being an avenue for God to speak to me.