(Note: This is an opinion article.)
The label of rebel makes a person seem either cool or difficult in other people’s eyes. We wonder if the rebel is in our nature or just learned behavior. If we find that we’re in complicated situations because we rebel against the flow, we need some amount of self-reflections in the hope of improving our decisions and situations.
Rebelliousness happens during growing up years in stages of life from adolescence to young adulthood. The rebelling against the authority of parents or guardians happens because we want independence from them, especially if we are still under their care. It is believed that we outgrow rebelliousness once we are independent during adulthood. However, we still do see rebels in many shapes and forms. Some of us still rebel in adulthood.
Who is the rebel? People who can’t comply and/or won’t conform are deemed rebels. If you’re not a rebel, then why can’t you just obey? Are you a rebel at heart? The answers are not simple. We need to know the root of this rebel nature. Read on to see if B-I-T-T-E-R are reasons enough to answer the questions.
1. B – Behavioral Patterns
Given the birth of healthy babies, for example, they either cry or not; some doctors need to spank some newborns for them to cry. At the very start of life, we come with our instincts and reactions to stimuli. There’s already a glimpse of behavior if this baby’s nature is loud or timid by the way they cry and move. Observations can be gleaned if they are patient or impatient during feeding time. Then, more and more instincts and responses will emerge during childhood.
It will be good to know from parents and/or guardians how you were as a baby to pre-school age. There would be no conscious labeling or choice whether you were a rebel then or not. But if you get enough stories of the situations you were in, you can now figure out a pattern of your behavior. For example, you might discover that you had been obedient as a child, but changed during adolescence then, as a young adult reverted back to obedience. Or you have been consistent your whole life with a pattern of non-compliance and non-conformity. Or, like a light switch, you had stages in your growth that you switch from rebel to obedience, on and off.
So, gather your childhood history, recall your younger years, evaluate your current situations and determine if you have a pattern of rebelliousness. If you are consistent in your responses against authority figures, organized groups, and the majority or masses then, you might be a real rebel at heart.
There’s nothing wrong to being a rebel if done in a healthy context. You might want to understand and manage your decisions and situations, which could be unnecessarily bringing conflicts toward you. Unhealthy is to object for the sake of objecting to the majority, for example. But, if your objections are logical, factual and/or experience-based, for example, then you can explain your decisions, to open a sincere communication with other people rather than isolating yourself and being misunderstood when, in fact, you can share your knowledge and receive knowledge from them as well.
2. I – Image.
Your self-image and the image that other people see are not often the same. There are non-conformist who transform their physical appearance to make that statement. Some people are externally and internally rebels, but some are externally rebels and internally seeking approval from others, challenging them to get past that image. Yet, others are internally rebels and externally conformist; you won’t know just from their image that their rebelliousness is in their minds and actions. There’s no formula to the rebel image, sure, some people imitate the stereotypical rebel from characters in movies or their celebrity idols, but what is important is when you look in the mirror, you know you. Meaning, you’re comfortable with who you see whatever the physical appearance may look like. Self-image is more important than projecting an image simply for others to see.
3. T – Thought Process.
How-to parenting books always advise parents not to teach the word “no” as part of the children’s first set of vocabulary. For some children, “no” comes naturally to them and it’s an easy enough word to say, but the contrariness of that one word is actually deep.
“No,” of course, connotes rejection and dislike. However, “no” is also power especially, if it is from good instinct because it takes strength to defy or decline pressures of situations, family, society, and community. There are people who couldn’t say “no,” but should’ve said “no” in problematic situations.
What could be the rebel’s thought process? Anything you see, hear and sense, you will first reject so it’s a “no” essentially. You will not believe anyone; it’s being a cynic. This is a good trait in terms of always using critical thinking. However, it is unhealthy if you don’t use critical thinking and become so narrow-minded that there’s no room to mentally grow.
We are living at a time when information is easy to search, both useful and junk. It will be good to research anything that you are initially rejecting. Process reliable information and re-consider with an open mind your rejections. If they are not in line with your stand and principles then reject them with finality. But if upon analysis, you see goods points and ideas, you can accept them. This doesn’t lessen your rebel points, but you are managing your rebellious nature with critical thinking and reliable research.
4. T – Temper and Tolerance.
Are rebels prone to temper flares? Rebels, in general, are impatient. So, the impatience comes first before becoming temperamental. For example, in decision-making situations like meetings, they are quick and their answer is “no” so, they’ve mentally moved on from that first situation. However, other people in the group are still deciding and weighing things, which makes the rebels impatient. The longer rebels are kept from voicing their objections, the more irritable they become.
Are rebels intolerant of others’ differences? Rebels are complex people; they are, by choice, usually on the outside. Extreme rebels don’t tolerate anyone. Moderate rebels pick and choose who to tolerate or not; the choices are eclectic and only a few are tolerated. Mild rebels do understand all who are different in whatever form; they just don’t tolerate the common or the compliant.
It’s good to know who and what are tolerable for you and why. If this is clarified within yourself then, you can re-evaluate your choices and reasons. In having your final list of tolerable, you are now aware that when you encounter a similar thing or person from that list, you can breathe and reign in your impatience.
5. E – Emotions.
There are emotional rebels who are passionately argumentative and showing all excess feelings with a devil-may-care attitude. There are also intellectual rebels who are very still, passive and facial masks of no emotions, but their thoughts are very active and planning for offenses and defenses like strategists. The emotional rebels can be toxic for other people because they dump all these emotions in any place with little discretion. They can complain at home, in their offices, in places they go to like shops, restaurants, theaters, supermarkets, etc. The intellectual rebels can be frustrating to other people because they can’t understand them. People are quite afraid of them since they don’t know what they’re thinking and what they’re going to do.
As a rebel, it will be beneficial if you can balance the emotional and intellectual sides of your rebelliousness. For example, if you are a sports coach, your intellectual rebel side can really counter the opponents provided that you show your emotional rebel side to your team to explain your plans and fire them up. Another example, if you are an orator, you can combine your emotional and intellectual rebel sides so that your audience can be comfortable listening to you.
6. R – Resistance.
What is your level of resistance? This is related to the thought process. When you object or say “no,” is it always a high level at a scale of 100%? Some rebels say “no” but leave room to change their minds with a “maybe” or with a “yes, but with some changes” type of openness. Resistance is also related to the strength of the rebels’ convictions.
In the continuing process of analyzing your rebelliousness, it will be good to study your level or scale of resistance. What are subject matters that you can never compromise and will always reject or object to? What matters can you give about 20% chance of re-evaluation? How about 50% and 25%? Extreme rebels will always have strong convictions to be contrary to the point of obsession. Moderate rebels resist at 60% to 99%, but know how to re-evaluate. Mild rebels are not on high levels of resistance, they are at 50% with room for reconsideration and openness. Having room for openness is also having room for growth thus, resistance can be controlled. Not everything should be fought with 100%.
Understanding one’s own nature is beneficial to live a more peaceful less erratic, less conflicting, life. The rebel nature should be embraced especially, if that’s your identity, but it should do no harm to others and to yourself.
What do you think?
Cherry, K. (2020). The Concept of Obedience in Psychology. Verywell Health. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-obedience-2795894
HealthPsychologyConsultancy. (2013). The Rebel Personality. Retrieved from https://healthpsychologyconsultancy.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/the-rebel-personality/
Pickhardt, C. (2009). Rebel With a Cause: Rebellion in Adolescence. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/200912/rebel-cause-rebellion-in-adolescence