Letting Go Of Our Willfulness: Stubbornness


When people insist on getting their way, they may be described as stubborn.

They feel that eventually others will yield to their desires if only they don’t budge or give in. Usually this tactic has been successful in the past for them and so they begin to rely upon it more and more. They are like a young child that stamps its feet and screams to get what it wants. It’s a primitive method, but an effective one. Most people, however, learn more sophisticated ways to manipulate others, such as flattery or flirting.

Stubborn people tend to be rigid and unwilling to entertain other possibilities. For this reason, they often find that others feel offended by their attitude. Even though others ignore or avoid them, stubborn people persist in annoying and aggravating everyone in order to get their way. They exploit the inclination of others to be accommodating, a quality they perceive as a weakness and therefore refuse to adopt in themselves. And unless they actually harm others, they often get their way.

Fortunately we ourselves don’t resort to stubbornness, at least not very much. We would prefer to persuade and negotiate with others to get what we want. But if this approach doesn’t work, we could be just as stubborn as the best of them.

Like all forms of willfulness, stubbornness has its downside. Besides alienating others, it also tends to narrow our vision so we become defensive about our desires. How could there be anything wrong with what we want? After all, we only want what is good for us. We overlook the fact that we are no longer taking into much consideration the needs of other people.

On the positive side, stubborn people have a lot of determination, and this quality may assist us as we become aware of the Source that lives through us. Above all, we need to be determined to break through all the petty distractions that might deter us away from the loving Source at the core of our awareness.

Richard G. Hartnett, MA, MS, LCADC is a former Jesuit priest who now lives with his wife, Kathy, by a lake in northwestern New Jersey. He has served as the chaplain at Hazelden New York, pastoral counselor at the Chemical Dependency Department of the International Center for the Disabled in NYC, and continuing care counselor at the outpatient Chemical Dependency Program of High Focus Centers in New Jersey. Currently he maintains a private practice in New Jersey. He is the author of The Presence at the Center, Renewing Your Fourth Step, The Three Inner Voices: Uncovering the Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery, and Sobriety and Inspiration: Entrusting Ourselves to the Source of Our Healing and Creativity.


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