Many psychologists today talk about our “inner child.” And often the way we respond to people and the circumstances of everyday life has to do with our “inner child” desperately seeking and needing the approval of our peers.
Many times we get knocked of our feet by our own perception of ourselves. In the end, it’s not really about what anyone said or did, it’s our childhood woundings and insecurities holding on to the past.
And for many the trauma and woundings were real and the love and attention needed was not there to support the wounded child.
It helps me to picture the “child within” still wanting the love and support that was needed at crucial times in our lives. Many of us have had a good family life but no parent or family is perfect. Some wounds go deeper for one child while another sibling may not have been affected in the same way.
Later as adults, we find ourselves stuck in the same old patterns of seeking approval and attention. Sometimes, we will go out of our way for people we barely know and ignore a present need in our own lives. We will deny our bodies and minds the attention and rest they need in order to feed our need for approval.
I found myself living this way and it has take me a long time to break this repetitive, stupor-like behavior. Often when loved ones try to talk to us about these destructive, people-pleasing patterns we just dig our heels in. We become stubborn and the stubbornness creates a blindness to reality.
That “little child” within turns into a stubborn monster. That monster says we are not good enough because we never were and never will be.
The monster feeds on the self-hatred we throw at it through our acts of pleasing others and pushing ourselves beyond the borders of giving. Sacrificing ourselves daily to that monster within who in the end only demands more.
We live in defeat immobilized by our own inner fears and hurts. These are our blind spots and they keep us in denial. Blinded we live in stubborn resistance.
So how do we deal with this?
We do it in many ways by living our lack through our children and pushing them through hoops and activities that may leave them bitter and angry about not having a voice or say in what they wanted.
Many Christians including myself have stubbornly served and given beyond our capacity. We made sacrifices but for the wrong reasons. We were not helping others because we were really serving the monster within that hounds us with the words “‘we are not enough.”
We get trapped in our need to be needed. And it literally takes a number of “cosmic 2 x 4s” for us to stop, pay attention and begin to break out of these destructive patterns.
Stubbornness can sometimes be a telltale sign of a monster lurking beneath the surface.
Dictionary.com defines stubbornness this way:
Stubborn: having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, esp. in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so. Difficult to move, remove, or cure.
Stubbornness manifests in many ways: arrogance, inflexibility, acting all-knowing, sarcasm, always being right, arguing, debating and unwillingness to engage.
Christian counselor Kegan Mosier says when we become stubborn, we are using it as a defense mechanism to avoid or cope with conscious conflict or anxiety and when we do that it creates “hardness of heart.”
“I have seen stubbornness emanate from people from all walks of life and from myself at times. If I’m being honest, this is an issue that stops growth, and can cause a bitterness that will destroy our quality of life and relationships with others.” (Kegan Mosier Cornerstone Christian Counseling)
In the animal world, creatures often use defense mechanisms to mask their fear such as the quills of a porcupine or the spray released by a skunk.
We use similar protective mechanisms like stubbornness to protect ourselves from perceived harm. We protect, defend, shield, and fortify in an aim to preserve our inner-child monster from danger.
But God wants to change us. He wants to heal our hearts of those past wounding and remove the stubbornness that controls us. God gave this promise to Ezekiel:
“I will give them singleness of heart (or an ‘undivided heart’) and put a new spirit within the. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart (or a “heart of flesh”) (Ezekiel 11:19)
The tender responsive “heart of flesh” that God wants to put inside of us is soft, malleable, shape-able, fertile soil – in contrast to the stony, rocky, stubborn one that we can develop.
The first step in healing is recognizing there is a monster lurking inside us and then asking God for help.
- 2 ways to overcome stubbornness: Cornerstone Christian Counseling