The mental attitude of people will impact their experience of life in sobriety. Those individuals who have the wrong attitude will experience things to be more difficult than they need to be, and this can lead them to relapse back to substance abuse. If people have the right attitude it means that life in recovery feels like plain sailing for most of the time. One of the attitudes that can help or hinder the individual is stubbornness.
The word stubbornness can be used in a negative or positive sense. It can be used to mean that person is unwilling to give up and that they will persist until they achieve their goal – this is usually considered a noble attitude for people to have. Stubbornness can also mean that the person is bullheaded and unreasonably unyielding. They persist in a behavior even though it is ineffective and may be even causing them harm. To say that someone is stubborn is also used to refer to a situation where an individual has difficulty changing their opinions even when there is a good reason for why they should do so.
The words stubbornness and tenacity can be used interchangeably but in common speech they have a different emphasis. Stubbornness tends to be used in a negative way to mean I will not while tenacity is used to mean I will. In order words the person who is stubborn is resisting while the individual who is tenacious is persisting.
An extreme example of stubbornness would be the behavior of an alcoholic or drug addict. These individuals will persist with their self destructive abuse even when the damage caused by such activity is obvious. Friends and family may try to beg the addict to get help but their pleadings will go ignored. This individual is determined to continue the abuse and until they have a change of heart it can be almost impossible to stop them. In this situation the addict is not being deliberately stubborn but the nature of their condition means that they are caught in denial and unable to see a way out. It is usually only when this person hits rock bottom that their stubbornness can be overcome.
Just because the individual manages to walk away from an addiction does not usually mean that they will never act stubbornly in the future. This is a natural human trait and sometimes it can be highly beneficial – particularly when it is the tenacious form. There are a number of reasons for why the individual can appear to be acting stubbornly in recovery such as:
* The person has a goal that is important to them, and they will not allow anything get in the way of them achieving it. An example of this would be the priority to stay sober – the individual needs to be uncompromising in their commitment to this if they are to achieve success.
* People can resist change in recovery because they fear it. There is comfort in familiarity even when the current situation is far from ideal.
* Some people have closed minds and they refuse to consider new ideas or new options. They feel threatened by anything they view as new or different and will be inclined to resist these.
* Those individuals who are arrogant suffer from an attitude of superiority, and this makes it difficult for them to admit that they may be doing something incorrectly. Extreme forms of arrogance can be a sign of mental health problems such as narcissistic personality disorder.
* It is easy for humans to get caught up with fallacious thinking, and this can mean that even the most bizarre behavior appears rational and justified. This faulty logic means that people can be convinced that they are in the right even when they are in the wrong.
* Some people make the mistake of too closely aligning their self esteem and personal identity with their views and opinions. This means that by admitting that they need to change is a threat to their sense of self worth.
* Those individuals who belong to a group will be influenced into adapting certain behaviors and ideas. It can be difficult for those outside the group to challenge this influence from the peer group.
* Some people can be demand resistant, and this means that they automatically say no to any type of demand or expectation. Demand resistance can usually be traced back to childhood where it develops a defense mechanism against unrealistically high expectations from parents.
* People can fall into the trap of thinking negatively about everything, and this may lead them to react stubbornly to any suggestions for how they can improve things. This type of attitude is sometimes referred to as stinking thinking.
A stubborn attitude can be highly beneficial to people in recovery because it can mean:
* The individual refuses to allow anything to get in the way of staying sober. They know that this has to be the priority in their life because a return to addiction would mean losing everything they’ve worked for.
* The most successful entrepreneurs have needed to ignore the naysayers and to just persist doggedly until they reached their goal. If the individual wants to achieve some important in their life they will often have to depend on inner faith and tenacity – this will be particularly important when other people around them are being negative.
* Other people can be wrong and following their advice may limit the potential of the individual. Sometimes it is necessary to move in a different direction than what other people are suggesting – this should always be done in a respectful way.
Stubbornness can certainly be a liability for those who are trying to build a new life away from alcohol and drugs. The dangers of this type of attitude include:
* It can mean that the individual becomes stuck in recovery, and this is not a good position to be in. It is when people are no longer going forward in recovery that they are at their most risk of relapse.
* There are many pitfalls that people can fall into when they are sober, but it is possible to avoid these by taking advantage of the experiences of other people. The stubborn individual can refuse to learn from other people’s mistakes, and this means that they keep on falling into the common traps.
* In order to get the most out of sobriety they person will need to make many changes and eradicate negative mental habits. Those who are stubborn may refuse to make such changes, and their recovery will suffer as a result.
* If the individual is demand resistant it will mean that family and friends will suffer. Just suggesting something can be enough to ensure that the individual will refuse to do it.
* Those individuals who are stubborn can struggle to develop deep and meaningful relationships. This refusal to compromise can be viewed as an unattractive personality trait.
* This type of negative attitude leads to suffering, and the individual may use it as an excuse to return to alcohol or drug abuse.
There are things that the individual can do to overcome the negative impact of stubbornness in their life such as:
* If the person is demand resistant they need to ignore the urge to automatically say no to the suggestions made by other people. One way of breaking this habit is to consciously decide to say yes as much as possible – of course this will need to be within reason.
* It is important that the individual is able to differentiate between stubbornness and tenacity. They need to understand when it is appropriate to be stubborn and when it is not.
* Those people who find that stubbornness is making their life miserable may benefit from time spent with a therapist. This professional will be able to dig down deep to find the underlying driving force behind this attitude.
* It is vital that people in recovery appreciate the necessity of change – rather than fearing it they need to view it as a chance to experience something new and exciting.
* Beginner’s mind means that the individual is able to put aside their preconceived ideas and opinions when faced with something new. This mental attitude can make all the difference to people who are looking to achieve success in their life.
* Learning to think critically is another important skill for people who are hoping to build a life in recovery. This will allow them to see beyond the irrational modes of thought that can justify their stubbornness.
* If people develop humility they will feel less threatened when it comes time to change their beliefs or behavior. This is because they do not expect to be right all the time, and their main concern is that they are always improving things.
* Excessive negative thinking is poison to those who are trying to escape from an addiction. The individual needs to do what is necessary to avoid falling into this trap.