What makes a person stubborn

By Hanan Parvez

Stubbornness is a personality trait in which a person refuses to change his opinion about a situation or refuses to change his mind about the action that he has decided to take.

A stubborn person has a resolute adherence to his own ideas and opinions. A stubborn person also sometimes has a strong resistance to change, especially if the change is inflicted on him by someone else. A stubborn person has the attitude of “No I won’t, and you can’t make me”.

Why are some people stubborn?

Stubborn people are not stubborn all the time. There may be some specific events or interactions that trigger their stubbornness. In order to understand why some people are stubborn, we have to first remind ourselves of the fact that most human behaviours are reward-seeking or pain-avoiding.

Five stubborn people may be stubborn for five completely different reasons so without generalizing, I’ll try to give you an idea as to how you may figure out the reason behind someone’s stubbornness...

Stubbornness and rewards

Sometimes a person may be stubborn only because he knows that stubbornness helps him to get what he wants. In this case, a person may use his stubbornness to prevent the resistance that others may offer him that would stop him from fulfilling his desire.

For example, a child may be motivated to display stubbornness when she learns that stubbornness makes her parents comply with her desires. She uses stubbornness as a tool to get what she wants.

This kind of behaviour is usually seen in spoilt children.

If a child doesn't get what she wants simply by asking or by other nice ways then she's likely to adopt stubbornness, unless it's parents don't allow stubborn behaviour. If that woks for her, then she’ll continue such behaviour in order to keep getting the rewards.
      
Stubbornness and pain-avoidance
      
Again this can be better explained in the context of the parent-child relationship. When parents are very controlling and possessive and make all the decisions regarding their kid themselves, the child thinks that her freedom is threatened.

This is a common reason why in later childhood or teen years, some children become rebellious and stubborn.
 
If a child feels that she's being controlled, she becomes stubborn in order to take back control and regain freedom! Loss of freedom to make one’s own decisions can be painful for people who value freedom and so they employ the defense-mechanism of stubbornness to avoid this pain.

This kind of stubbornness is usually observed in relationships.

For instance, if someone told a person that his wife is too demanding and controlling, then he might suddenly become stubborn even if he used to behave normally before, leaving his wife clueless as to what caused this sudden change in his behaviour.

stubborn kid
Over-controlling parents often find themselves having to deal with stubborn children
      
Stubbornness and identity

Some people strongly identify with their beliefs, opinions, ideas and tastes. They can’t stand anyone disagreeing with them because disagreeing with them means disagreeing with who they are. They become very stubborn to the point that they don’t even consider the opinion of others because they feel threatened by people who disagree with them.

So, in a way, this is also a type of pain-avoidance. This kind of stubbornness can hamper the growth of a person and badly affect his relationships with people. Some go a step further by totally avoiding the people who don't agree with them just so they can live in the world of their own ideas and opinions.

Hidden feelings of hostility

Some people act stubbornly just to piss you off. You may caused them some kind of pain in the past and now they're getting back at you passive-aggressively. Stubbornness allows them to release their hidden feelings of hatred and hostility towards you.

Handling a stubborn person

A stubborn person can be difficult to handle because he tends to be closed-minded and inflexible. However, if you try to dig deeper and find out the real reason behind his stubbornness then dealing with him will become a lot easier.

You can even directly try to ask him why he’s being so stubborn. This can force him to become self-aware and reflect on his behavior.

A stubborn person hates being controlled so you shouldn't in any way make him feel that you’re controlling him.

Stubbornness can be good too

Yes, in some cases stubbornness can be beneficial to you. If you know that you're doing the right thing and everyone is opposing you giving all sorts of reasons that don't make any sense, then you have to remain stubborn.

Related Content

Subscribe To Our Newsletter