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What makes a person stubborn

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 behaviors 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 behavior 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 her parents don't allow stubborn behavior. If that works for her, then she’ll continue such behavior in order to keep getting the rewards.


On the other hand, when parents are controlling, possessive, and make all the decisions regarding their kid themselves, the child thinks that her freedom is threatened.

stubborn kid
Over-controlling parents often find themselves having to deal with their kids being stubborn

This is a common reason why in later childhood or in teen years, some children become rebellious and stubborn. In this case, stubbornness is a defence mechanism used by a person to avoid the pain of being controlled by others.

This kind of stubbornness is observed in relationships too.

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 behavior.

Stubbornness and identity

Stubborn people are rigidly attached to 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 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 have caused them some kind of a 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.


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Body language: Gestures of the head and neck

The head nod
Nodding the head almost everywhere in the world means ‘Yes’ and shaking the head from side to side means ‘No’. A slight head nod is used as a greeting gesture, especially when two people greet each other from a distance. It sends the message, ‘Yes, I acknowledge you’.

Body language: The truth of the pointing foot

When we communicate with others, our attention is focused mainly on the words they speak and the facial expressions they make. We pay little, if any, attention to gestures of the body and when it comes to the feet, we almost never look at them.

Body language: Clenching and clasping of the hands

Clenching hands in front of the body
This gesture has three main positions: hands clenched in front of the face, hands clenched resting on the desk or lap and, while standing, hands clenched over the lower abdomen.

Body language: Crossing the arms

Crossing the arms across the chest is a classic gesture of defensiveness. This defensiveness usually manifests as uneasiness, shynessor insecurity.

Body language: Hands touching the head

Scratching the hair
When we scratch our hair using one or more fingers anywhere on top, back or side of the head, it signals the emotional state of confusion. Watch any student trying to solve a difficult problem and you are likely to observe this gesture. There isn't a better place to observe this gesture than an exam hall, where students often have no idea what the question paper is trying to say!

How our past experiences shape our behavior and personality

Our beliefs and needs are the strongest factors that govern our behavior. Ultimately, it all comes down to beliefs because a need is also a belief- a belief that we lack something.

Body language: Hands touching the neck

Rubbing the back of the neck
Ever seen two furry animals, like dogs, in a fight? If you have then you might have noticed that when they are about to attack each other, the fur over their neck stands on its end and makes the animals appear bigger. The bigger the animals appear the more they are able to intimidate each other.