Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Strong Willed Part 3

How can you tell if someone is strong-willed?
He will act and think independently. Peer pressure will not be a problem, and neither will authority be influential. Big decisions will be made on personal counsel, or counsel he requests. Because he will not follow a crowd, and because of his expectations, he may not have many friends. In a large group of people, he will sit apart. Though strong-willed people make leaders, they are the lonely-at-the-top kind, not the popular center of a circle. Those who wish to follow the crowd will feel threatened by the example of someone who doesn’t. Or they will make a hero out of him, in which case he will be considered sacred and above them. One way or another, he is lonely.

He will not be shy, though. Fear is not a problem. His ideas may be accepted or rejected, and will do him no harm. If he finds someone who is like-minded or willing to listen, he will share everything. This can come across as debate or persuasive speech.

If a tendency to independence is seen at very young ages, most likely the allegiance is to self. I believe oldest children of families are born almost universally with this inherent stubbornness and strength (though those not born the oldest can also have it). It makes them leaders, or in the very least prevents them from being followers. A child with this personality may appear stupid if misunderstood, as if he doesn’t understand what is required of him, or cannot connect actions with consequences. Don’t be deceived; there are some children who do not think ahead, and live on the impulse of the moment. Strong-willed children are much smarter than that. They may even be anticipating their parents, or analyzing motives. When a child is intentionally pushing its parents’ buttons, you may suspect strong will.

Strong-willed people do not always fight with each other. They do not bicker. Life and convictions are taken very seriously. At first encounter, strong-willed people may not like each other. If they become well acquainted, they will have great respect for each other. If they are Christians with strong wills, they will be fast friends. I condition my statement for Christians because a Christian is humbled. They are united in allegiance, and thus also in standards. Those who do not agree with them or do agree but are still worshiping self will be respected enemies, the kind worthy of combat.

An independent person must work to be kind. Those who are more emotional (Jane Austen would call them governed by sensibility) will be viewed as weak, silly, emotional, and incomprehensible. In clashes there is a lot of frustration, because a strong-willed person will argue the facts, whereas another person will defend their feelings. I am not saying one is more valid than the other. Communication between the classifications of people takes time, caution, and deference. People who rattle off platitudes and act on emotions will annoy the more stable, stubborn person.

Plato said that plot is everything. Forget motive and character. Focus on what a person does. The strong-willed person will deny this. He lives based on what is. He connects dots, and anticipates actions based on what he knows to be true about a person and their situation. A strong-willed person learns definitionally. He wants to know what something means.

In a seeming contradiction, stories will be popular with him. If a person can tell stories that are complex and logical, he is probably strong-willed. The stories he loves will be heavy on character development, though. He may prefer movies and books with lots of dialogue and description, and less action.

Fictional stories are also popular. As long as the story has inner consistency, it will be acceptable. In fact, the more challenging to maintain consistency, the more a strong-willed person will applaud a successful narrative. Beware, because strong-willed people can be liars, very good ones. If their conscience does not betray them, nothing will. (Others can lie, too. They will lie for different reasons, and often illogically. The child who spits his food out in front of you and then tells you he swallowed it is not strong-willed.)

Questions? Other behaviors you've observed? Disagreements? Feel free to comment!

To God be all glory.

2 comments:

kschaub said...

Lisa, enjoyed your thoughts on the strong-willed person. I would like to think that I'm quietly strong-willed, and at times, 'governed by sensibility'.

Kevin

Lisa of Longbourn said...

I suspect you have not read Jane Austen and thus do not know what I meant by "governed by sensibility." Let me quote from the Introduction of her Love and Freindship
(sic): "The cult of sensibility - in which emotions are irresistible and overpowering and plots are far-fetched and convoluted - was at its height during Austen's teenage years..."

Offering the benefit of the doubt and an educated guess, I'm guessing this does not describe you. In fact, I think that quietness has nothing to do with the cult of sensibility.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn