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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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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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