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8 Reasons Why It’s Good To Be Disagreeable

8 Reasons Why It’s Good To Be Disagreeable

If you’re anything like me, you always seem to be upsetting someone and to others you seem to be disagreeable all the time. You probably don’t intend to present yourself as negative; you may just be one of those people who goes against the grain. I certainly am. I’m the type of person who questions everything. I need to understand a concept or situation fully and I need to know the other side of the story. I often find myself playing devil’s advocate in order to experience empathy, not for the thrill of being difficult.

You, like me, may be the kind of person who has very strong opinions about things, especially if you like to think of yourself as broad minded, well informed and open to learning and changing your opinion in the light of new information. I need convincing with evidence and facts and I need to know as much as is available about a subject to truly comprehend it and make an informed opinion about it.

Some people are easily put off by people like this. It makes people uncomfortable to have to think hard and change their minds all the time. Most people like to maintain the status quo and don’t appreciate confrontation. However, truly evolving, growing, experiencing progress and making a difference in the world depends on activity that is dynamic and sometimes contradictory. If you are happy to cruise through life never having anything challenge your thinking or way of doing things; if you are satisfied to just ‘go with the flow’ and prevent any kind of disruption to your safe and stable thoughts and actions, then don’t expect to make a major impact on the world or experience anything profound.

If instead you want to have a meaningful existence and contribute something great to the world and people around you, then continue to be disagreeable, because to be disagreeable is how successful people make their mark.

Here are 8 reasons why it’s good to be disagreeable.

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1. You don’t need others’ approval to do what you think is right

According to best selling author Malcolm Gladwell, psychologists say this about people who have the propensity to be disagreeable:

“…they do not require the approval of their peers in order to do what they think is correct.”

Regardless of what others think about you or say about you; however much they try to dishearten you or place barriers in your way to achieving your goals, when you are disagreeable, you simply don’t care and your indifference is extremely empowering and powerful. Where most people will take on board the opinions and sway of others, you carry on taking steps toward achieving your goals and you continue to stand up and be counted in your chosen endeavors. African American Civil Rights Activist Rosa Parks led the way for equality and justice for African Americans in the United States during the 1950s through a simple act. She refused to give up her seat on a bus that was reserved for whites only and in doing so she inspired an entire movement and a generation of people who sought to fight for the rights of black people in America. When others were afraid to stand up to the unfair laws and treatment, Rosa resisted and her choice to be disagreeable, changed history and began the civil rights movement.

2. You have a can do and will do attitude

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To be disagreeable means that you are a very determined person and once you put your mind to something it is hard to deter you. Even when others try to dishearten you or the odds are stacked against you, you stay focused on your passion and the end goal and you take steps to achieve the desired outcome. Jane Goodall is a perfect example of this. She is a British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. She is also an animal activist and has worked hard to promote the conservation of both the animals she has studied and their habitat. Jane had a passion for animals from a young age and despite never having formal qualifications she has contributed extensively to the study of primates, namely chimpanzees. She ignored the strict and restrictive procedures that other scientists imposed and maintained confidence in her own instincts to truly connect with the chimpanzee communities she studied. Her results were groundbreaking and her contributions to the subject have been unmatched.

3. You are willing to take risks

When you are prepared to go your own way, you do so knowing that there could be adverse reactions; sometimes even ones that threaten your safety or your life. To be disagreeable is risky behavior because you could be jeopardizing your livelihood, relationships and sometimes your own physical and mental health. It is hard work to stay focused on achieving something that attracts so many obstacles and such derision. However, what keeps you going is the knowledge that the rewards far out weigh the perils and the struggle will be worth it in the end.  A young Pakistani activist for the advancement of female education and the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai almost paid the price for her determination to be disagreeable with her life. She was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out in support of the education of girls. She has spoken and written about her experiences and has used her horrendous experience to continue to fight for her cause regardless of the threats and danger she attracts in doing so.

4. You are not deterred by failure; it fuels your determination

It is not easy to be disagreeable in the face of tyranny and resistance. Nobody wants to be the odd one out or the person who is constantly told they stand alone and are not supported for ‘rocking the boat’. Facing failure and disappointment will become commonplace when you are a person who is committed to change among people who want things to remain the same. However, your determination is fueled by opposition, not diminished. Aung Sang Suu Kyi has spent many years under house arrest for her peaceful fight for justice in her country Myanmar (Burma). Despite being consistently prevented from having influence and contact with her supporters, she continued to resist oppression. Using your disasters as means to obtain lessons and learn new skills and harnessing the disappointments in order to fuel your determination will ensure that you grow more resilient and ultimately more successful.

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5. You see the bigger picture and can think outside the square

In order to get a different result, you must do things differently. If you continue to do things in exactly the same way you will keep getting the same result. Sometimes thinking in broader terms and looking at a subject philosophically will yield more positive results. There is nothing broader than existential philosophy. French philosopher Simone De Beauvoir wrote extensively about the meaning of life and existence, especially for women in society. She was a pioneering feminist and lay the foundation for thinkers and writers to come.

By delving deeply into the subject matter of her interest and questioning what most people of her time took for granted, she was able to influence many generations of thinkers. She challenged the role that society imposed on women as a given and gave women the framework to reclaim their freedom and independence from oppression that was considered the norm. She didn’t just comment about the way women were unequal to men by for example being the primary carers of children, not having the right to vote or not having control over their reproductive bodies, she asked why this was the case and commented on how men defined themselves and women. She questioned the very core of human existence from a gendered perspective.

6. You can reframe the problem in a new way

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

To be disagreeable doesn’t necessarily mean being negative or mean. Sometimes being disagreeable in the face of tyranny means to insist on being positive and kind in the face of hatred. It is the ultimate act of rebellion to continue to be optimistic when confronted by tragedy. Anne Frank is the perfect example and inspiration. A Jewish child forced into hiding in Nazi occupied Holland, Anne wrote in her diary to pass the time and stay cheerful in the darkest of times. Although she demonstrated the innocence and naivety of a child, she was an example in her relentless insistence to be disagreeable by maintaining her hope and love for humanity. While watching the adults around her no doubt traumatized by their experiences, she continue to dwell in happiness and found a way to look at the calamity they faced with new eyes. Her legacy has lived on and she is the ultimate symbol of someone who refused to surrender to persecution.

7. You do the hard work instead of avoiding it

If you happen to be married to one of the most successful and wealthiest men on earth most people would think that meant a life of absolute luxury and leisure. This is not the case for the wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Melinda Gates has used her wealth and privilege to pursue philanthropy and contribute to making the world a more equal and better place for millions of people. She started the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and their achievements are impressive. Hard work and the endeavor to contribute is a common trait in people who most consider to be disagreeable. Despite resistance, Melinda has persisted with projects that provide women with access to contraception. She has also been instrumental in organizing the vaccinations of millions of people worldwide who otherwise would not have access to life saving preventative medicine. Her foundation works tirelessly to fund research and projects to ensure all people have the opportunity to live a healthy and safe life.

8. You have an active imagination

When you have a vivid and active imagination you consider things that others may not. When you put your musings out there, they may not be popular or conventional, but they can help you to achieve success by allowing a perspective that is beyond the mundane. Often your influence may not be acknowledged or discovered at the time, but appreciated in retrospect. Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who focused on self portraiture. Her paintings were mostly about herself and reflected her Mexican indigenous heritage as well as her own emotional and psychological experiences. She also participated in revolutionary politics with her husband Communist Diego Rivera and despite illness and setbacks continued to paint until her death. Her work was vibrant and distinctive and challenge both gender and heterosexual stereotypes. She lived a volatile and eccentric life, but that was what eventually made her an icon.

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Diane Koopman

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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