Contrariness


Categories: Uncategorized
Sources: Nerves And Common Sense

I KNOW a woman who says that if she wants to get her father's

consent to anything, she not only appears not to care whether he

consents or not, but pretends that her wishes are exactly opposite

to what they really are. She says it never fails; the decision has

always been made in opposition to her expressed desires, and

according to her real wishes. In other words, she has learned how to

manage her father.



This example is not unique. Many of us see friends managing other

friends in that same way. The only thing which can interfere with

such astute management is the difficulty that a man may have in

concealing his own will in order to accomplish what he desires.

Wilfulness is such an impulsive quantity that it will rush ahead in

spite of us and spoil everything when we feel that there is danger

of our not getting our own way. Or, if we have succeeded in getting

our own way by what might be called the "contrary method," we may be

led into an expression of satisfaction which will throw light on the

falseness of our previous attitude and destroy the confidence of the

friend whom we were tactfully influencing.



To work the "contrary method" to perfection requires a careful

control up to the finish and beyond it. In order never to be found

out, we have to be so consistent in our behavior that we gradually

get trained into nothing but a common every-day hypocrite, and the

process which goes on behind hypocrisy must necessarily be a process

of decay. Beside that, the keenest hypocrite that ever lived can

only deceive others up to a certain limit.



But what is one to do when a friend can only be reached by the

"contrary method"? What is one to do when if, for instance, you want

a friend to read a book, you know that the way to prevent his

reading it is to mention your desire? If you want a friend to see a

play and in a forgetful mood mention the fact that you feel sure the

play would delight him, you know as soon as the words are out of

your mouth you have put the chance of his seeing the play entirely

out of the question? What is one to do when something needs mending

in the house, and you know that to mention the need to the man of

the house would be to delay the repair just so much longer? How are

our contrary-minded friends to be met if we cannot pretend we do not

want what we do want in order to get their cooperation and consent?



No one could deliberately plan to be a hypocrite understanding what

a hypocrite really is. A hypocrite is a sham--a sham has nothing

solid to stand on. No one really respects a sham, and the most

intelligent, the most tactful hypocrite that ever lived is nothing

but a sham,--_false_ and a sham!



Beside, no one can manage another by the process of sham and

hypocrisy without sooner or later being found out, and when he is

found out, all his power is gone.



The trouble with the contrary-minded is they have an established

habit of resistance. Sometimes the habit is entirely inherited, and

has never been seen or acknowledged. Sometimes it has an inherited

foundation, with a cultivated superstructure.



Either way it is a problem for those who have to deal with

it,--until they understand. The "contrary method" does not solve the

problem; it is only a makeshift; it never does any real work, or

accomplishes any real end. It is not even lastingly intelligent.



The first necessity in dealing truly with these people is _not to be

afraid o f their resistances._ The second necessity, which is so

near the first that the two really belong side by side, is _never to

meet their resistances with resistances o f our own._



If we combat another man's resistance, it only increases his

tension. No matter how wrong he may be, and how right we are,

meeting resistance with resistance only breeds trouble. Two minds

can act and react upon one another in that way until they come to a

lock which not only makes lasting enemies of those who should have

been and could be always friends, but the contention locks up strain

in each man's brain which can never be removed without pain, and a

new awakening to the common sense of human intercourse.



If we want a friend to read a book, to go a journey, or to do

something which is more important for his own good than either, and

we know that to suggest our desire would be to rouse his resistance,

the only way is to catch him in the best mood we can, say what we

have to say, give our own preference, and at the same time feel and

express a willingness to be refused. Every man is a free agent, and

we have no right not to respect his freedom, even if he uses that

freedom to stand in his own light or in ours. If he is standing in

our light and refuses to move, we can move out of his shadow, even

though we may have to give up our most cherished desire in order to

do so.



If he is standing in his own light, and refuses to move, we can

suggest or advise and do whatever in us lies to make the common

sense of our opinion clear; but if he still persists in standing in

his own light, it is his business, not ours.



It requires the cultivation of a strong will to put a request before

a friend which we know will be resisted, and to yield to that

resistance so that it meets no antagonism in us. But when it is

done, and done thoroughly, consistently, and intelligently, the

other man's resistance reacts back upon himself, and he finds

himself out as he never could in any other way. Having found himself

out, unless his mulishness is almost past sanity, he begins to

reject his habit of resistance of his own accord.



In dealing with the contrary minded, the "contrary method" works so

long as it is not discovered; and the danger of its being discovered

is always imminent. The upright, direct method is according to the

honorable laws of human intercourse, and brings always better

results in the end, even though there may be some immediate failures

in the process.



To adjust ourselves rightly to another nature and go with it to a

good end, along the lines of least resistance, is of course the best

means of a real acquaintance, but to allow ourselves to manage a

fellow-being is an indignity to the man and worse than an indignity

to the mind who is willing to do the managing.



Our humanity is in our freedom. Our freedom is in our humanity. When

one, man tries to manage another, he is putting that other in the

attitude of a beast. The man who is allowing himself to be managed

is classing himself with the beasts.



Although this is a fact so evident on the base of it that it needs

neither explanation nor enlargement, there is hardly a day passes

that some one does not say to some one, "You cannot manage me in

that way," and the answer should be, "Why should you want to be

managed in any way; and why should I want to insult you by trying to

manage you at all?"



The girl and her father might have been intelligent friends by this

time, if the practice of the "contrary method" had not tainted the

girl with habitual hypocrisy, and cultivated in the father the

warped mind which results from the habit of resistance, and blind

weakness which comes from the false idea that he is always having

his own way.



If we want an open brain and a good, freely working nervous system,

we must respect our own freedom and the freedom of other

people,--for only as individuals stand alone can they really

influence one another to any good end.



It is curious to see how the men of habitual resistance pride

themselves on being in bondage to no one, not knowing that the fear

of such bondage is what makes them resist, and the fear of being

influenced by another is one of the most painful forms of bondage in

which a man can be.



The men who are slaves to this fear do not stop even to consider the

question. They resist and refuse a request at once, for fear that

pausing for consideration would open them to the danger of appearing

to yield to the will of another.



When we are quite as willing to yield to another as to refuse him,

then we are free, and can give any question that is placed before us

intelligent consideration, and decide according to our best

judgment. No amount of willfulness can force a man to any action or

attitude of mind if he is willing to yield to the willful pressure

if it seems to him best.



The worse bondage of man to man is the bondage of fear.





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