The idea of stubbornness was recently illustrated to me in an interaction I had with my dog. A few days ago, Stella, my 9-year-old partner in crime, was sitting in my reading chair with me as I was doing some work. She squeezed herself in on my right side, body pushed up against my leg and her head drooping off the front edge of the cushion in an unfortunate manner. In an attempt to help her out and bring her head onto the chair with us, I shifted a bit and gently moved her body back towards me.
As I attempted to move her, she quickly and instinctively growled at me. This 5-pound little dog growled at my audacity to help move and reposition her to a more comfortable spot. She rejected my help and insisted on flopping her head over the edge with a disgruntled sigh.
And I thought about how often we do this in life.
In relationships, and for our own benefit, we must be open to taking feedback from others. Believe it or not, the willingness to hear others may serve to improve our situation. However, while genuinely hoping for someone to look out for our best interests, we sometimes growl in response. If we believe we are being moved, bossed, or feel not in control, we can react, reject, get angry and dig our heels in. Just like Stella, we snarl in our own stubborn way and do what we want, as ineffective and uncomfortable as it may be.
As I became aware of my own tendencies to do this, I gained insight into the areas in my life in which I am most likely to growl in stubbornness. Surprisingly, they are usually areas where I know I need to grow. They are behaviors I want to do differently, feelings I want to hide and avoid, or thoughts I want to change. Being told what to do in these spaces can elicit guilt and shame, even though I would prefer the help, the vulnerability and to show up maturely.
I encourage you to take a moment and mindfully think about your stubbornness and how it presents. It may be an outright growl or perhaps it is an eye roll, sigh, and dismissive response. Maybe you get defensive to hide your feelings or deny to avoid insecurity. Whatever your version of growling might be, how would you feel differently about yourself if you allowed others to speak into your life? How would it be to receive feedback from others even if it is something you already know about yourself? How might it improve your daily happiness and the relationship if you were open and willing?
Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.
If you recognize areas you want to grow in, reach out to me today!