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Stress Management for Living, Teaching, & Parenting

Counterwill Causes Stress

counterwill causes stress

Counterwill is something we all experience, and counterwill causes stress. What is counterwill? It is the name for the natural human resistance to being controlled.

Although adults experience this phenomenon all the time (and most people often sympathize with the person who experiences it), we seem to be surprised when we encounter it in young people. Perhaps it’s no surprise that  counterwill is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted dynamic in child-parent and teacher-student relationships.

This instinctive resistance to force can take many forms:

  • Refusal to do what is asked
  • Reluctance and resistance when being told
  • Disobedience or defiance
  • Lack of motivation to do what the adult desires the young person to do

Counterwill can also manifest itself in procrastination or in doing the opposite of what is expected. It can be expressed as passivity, negativity, or argumentativeness and is such a universal phenomenon at certain stages of development that it has given rise to the terms “terrible twos” and “rebellious teens.”

Why Counterwill Causes Stress

Realize that all people resist coercion in any form. This is the key reason why counterwill causes stress. Telling a person what to do has the inference that what the person is doing is not good enough and needs to change. No one of any age likes to hear this. People don’t mind changing as much as they dislike being told to change.

The most effective approach to eliminate counterwill is not to use coercion. Learning to ask reflective questions is the quickest and most effective approach. It is based on the simple truism that THE MOST EFFECTIVE APPROACH TO INFLUENCE PEOPLE IS TO HAVE PEOPLE INFLUENCE THEMSELVES.

If you’re looking for stress management advice, check out the book Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey. It’s available as a print book and as a Kindle download.

Dr. Marvin (Marv) Marshall
Phone: 714.220.1882
PO Box 11 Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Dr. Marshall's Stress Management Monthly Newsletter and/or his Stress Management Video Tips.
Phone: 559.329.5232