Stubbornness Has Its Merits


Stubbornness has its merits.

There are definitely appropriate times and places for fixedly clenching our teeth down on some value, virtue or viewpoint… and adamantly refusing to release. Claiming it as ours, with total self-assuredness, is an act we can take pride in.

To lead a successful interpersonal existence, of course, means we also learn when to give (an inch or a mile)… to let up on the tight grip and compromise, out of respect for the other person and because they might show us something we otherwise would never have seen.

Too stubborn a stance will result in our missing out on all of life's fantastic facets and wonders which our control-freaky brains have not thought up themselves. Serendipity gets lost in the shuffle. The perpetual stream of self-fulfilling prophecies saps the surprise, dulling our experience of our experiences.

Yet, too weak a will or too wobbly a set of knees leaves us a flittering wisp in the wind. We'll bend in whichever direction a fleeting contextual circumstance seems to demand, to uphold an acceptable appearance and hold the feared judging eyes at bay. The feeling of satisfaction from representing ourselves authentically, from holding firm to decisions that please us (even when they may displease someone else), is eerily absent.

We must strive to discern between our stubbornnesses: (1) those that instinctively arise when we confront a strange new reality that rouses our discomfort, the defensive emotion, the self-protective resistance to opening our minds and psyches to foreign input, though its integration is mandatory for furthering our personal evolution, and (2) those that we consciously commit to, on proactive behalf of a life-quality we passionately desire to foster, knowing we will need to steel our resolve in order to resist the expected influences of those who'd seek, with intention or wholly unconscious, to sway us from our commitment. One holds us back; the other secures us in an objective.

This second stubbornness is, as I've described it, nothing more than a commitment we make to ourselves to pursue a goal at all costs because have determined it is that important to attain. We will lose that twenty-five pounds. We will stop drinking. We will stop cheating. We will get a new job, move out, leave our suffering marriages—no matter what collateral upset we cause in the process. We are willing to anger or confuse those affected by our stubbornness, though they may feel threatened by our commitment to change (and its effect on their self-perceptions), perhaps even lash out or lob bombs in an attempt (conscious or not) to create sufficient chaos to subvert our efforts. But we will not be subverted. We know, deep in our bones, we must stay the course. We yearn to feel the satisfaction of commitment.

But what about the grey areas, the in-between spaces, the 'just how sure am I?' questions? Life is full of these subtle complexities, which often play the proverbial shell game with our decision-making capacities as we consider pro-and-con ramifications. Engaging with these shades-of-grey is central to how we ultimately decide what we want and don't want. This process must occur before we make a commitment (or as much as that's possible, considering everything changes and we don't always know what we're going to find until we find it); otherwise, the very premise of 'having committed' is already being compromised.

The mind is a crafty, corrupting scoundrel who will say almost anything to us to muddy our gut-level clarity. To commit yourself with this steely self-supporting stubbornness is to honor the wisdom of these feelings in your gut, which communicate, in stark wordless terms, what is right and wrong for you. Once this clear communication has occurred, there's little solid ground on which the crafty mind can argue its adversarial case. The wiggle-room disappears. The words become 'just words'.

We know what we've got to do. Now it just boils down to consistency and perseverance: getting up every morning, resolve intact, committed to repeating this same step as many times as it takes to attain the result, each new day another confrontation with subversive influences, a confrontation which we stubbornly refuse to let defeat us.

The challenge is only that much harder when we acknowledge the very real institutional forces actively working to prevent such self-determination. It is hard, after all, to rule over a populace comprised of stubbornly self-determined individuals who will stay their rightful course regardless of the consequences. We are fed enough messages about how to conform—from our politicians and media-figures, from our parents and other family-members, from our partners and peers—that we cannot escape their internalization. These messages adopt our inner voice; they colonize our minds and end up coming from us. These interlopers must be conquered, dominated. We must reclaim control by intercepting these messages and reprogramming the machine to recite our self-supporting pledges.

The collective battle for freedom and opportunity, which we have projected outward into the streets and onto our news-screens, begins inside… as a personal battle of self-determination. Only the stubborn ones will win.

Written as an ode to the May 9-15 grand earth trine between Mercury in Taurus, Mars in Virgo, and Pluto in Capricorn. You can read more about this aspect here.