Why we don’t like being preached? | Cognitive Psychology
Have you ever wondered why you feel irritated when your boss asks you to finish your work early? Or do you spat at your mom when she insists on cleaning your room? If this sounds familiar, it is most probably because you don’t like being managed and ordered. And you are not alone. It has a deep psychological explanation for it.
Why we don’t like being preached?
In every community, you will find people rejecting all kinds of suggestions- the ‘nonconformists’. Whatever you ask from them, they have a single answer to that- “NO!”- A classic case of problem makers.
However, my intention is not to digress into a much debatable topic of what is right and wrong about the nonconformists.
On the contrary, the discussion I want to put up is that we don’t like to follow rules set by others. It is human nature which is complex in its design. Maybe it occurs when we feel inferior and powerless. Besides, such situations stress us out easily.
Interestingly, the sense of not having a unique existence loses our value in our own eyes. And when this happens, even the slightest requests can feel like a deliberate insult. We will discuss several psychological and societal factors involving the same. Let’s dive into it.
People with such a mindset believe that they are the person of most importance- and that their thoughts and wisdom are flawless and impeccable. They are the center of the Universe. Now, if someone points out a finger at them and asks them to do something, they regard it as a slap on their face.
The intensity of this feeling varies from person to person. Some may link this behavior pattern with an egocentric mindset. An egocentric mind is ashamed of accepting others’ ideas. The feeling of being judged and inferior is enough to block other people’s views. Though there are self-centered people in our community, nevertheless, I believe the actual reason for us not liking to be preached is deeper than just an egocentric mindset.
Entitled Social media Experts
In the recent social media world of self-appointed experts (a typical example of Twitter), everyone has an opinion which they want to throw on others. They preach about what is right and wrong in an absolute sense of the matter. And those who don’t fall under their radar of righteousness gets heavily judged and scrutinized. Yet, when they themselves are in the receiving end, they resist and reject others’ preaching vehemently.
Individuality Vs Group mentality
There is always a push and pull between our states of consciousness as a human being. On the one hand, we are social beings. We love to share our life experiences with other fellow humans. Our sense of social security comes from the fact that we are accepted by our friends and families. And, we also fear rejection and ostracization from them which forces us to adjust to the rules of the group.
On the other hand, we are quite distinct individuals with our unique sense of identity. This is what makes us special in our abilities and behaviors. As a result, the sense of individualistic self can come in direct clash with our fear of exclusion from the group. The unconventional traits sometimes have to pay the price by compromising to be accepted within a group.
When facing such clashes emotionally and mentally, we come to terms by balancing and prioritizing our individualistic traits and adjusting with a few group principles. However, when the individualistic ideologies become dominant per se, we observe the human behavior of dismissing rules and regulations without considering them at all.
People with an extreme individualistic sense of self are generally the ones who are leaders, dictators, control freaks, or authoritarian. The other side of the spectrum show traits like submissive, compliance, obedience, accommodating, and timid. These types of people prefer to stay within the group and follow the mass.
Though categorically I will talk about the former kind of people for the topic in hand, neither of the extreme sides of the spectrum is good. The sense of individualism should pervade however group ideologies need to be respected as well. Finding the fine balance between the two makes the life experience smooth.
There is also an effect of cognitive dissonance seen in this type of behavior. We have a set of beliefs programmed in our heads. Anything unusual than that is not accepted. Our own beliefs are always right in our logic. And others’ belief which differs from ours is declared wrong cognitively. And we try to ‘rectify’ their beliefs instead of being aware of our behaviors. In that context, one doesn’t like others’ suggestions. Since our conscience doesn’t allow us to ‘be wrong’, we rebuff any suggestion that does not serve our belief system.
Getting advice from others can also feel like stripping our responsibility or handing it to someone else. One main psychological reason for why it is upsetting to accept unwanted advice is because we don’t like others to take responsibility for our own actions.
One certain section of our human race doesn’t like to be told and micro-managed about the basic chores of life. It can project an image about them being weak and fragile although it is not true at all.
Who and What
When finding the answer to the reason, the context is important too. The person who is preaching or the kind of guidance given also plays a significant role in determining the degree of irritability perceived.
The more unknown the person is to the subject more will be the resistance. When a family member or a friend suggests something to you, we still try to listen to them. This happens because we know they have their best interest for us. However if a stranger comes up and asks us to change a bad habit of ours, we instantly hand them a frozen mitt. Why? Because we don’t trust them enough to change our lifestyle.
And when some personal beliefs are attacked in the form of advice, one is even less likely to listen to any point made. In fact, it forces them to react more defensively.
Children seldom feel frustrated for being ordered and preached. But as they grow older into teenagers, they become more emotionally vulnerable and susceptible to anger. They start feeling powerless and inadequate within their family. Preaching and managing emotionally reluctant teenagers mostly go downhill. And their resistance is unmasked as irritation and anger.
So, it is important to give them their space and let them do their own tasks. It is okay to advise them once in a while but micro-managing and sternly ordering them all the time would only deteriorate the relationship that you have with them.
I remember as a kid, I used to be confused about the roads (pre-Google Maps era of course!) of my city Kolkata. So many intersections, cross junctions, bridges and the big city itself would baffle me. It made me feel lesser than my friends who used to have better navigating skills. Those were the days when my parents would accompany me everywhere. They wouldn’t leave me alone even while hanging out with my friends.
In retrospect, I realize that this had a huge negative effect on me in terms of my confidence. I felt scared to go out alone- improving the road skills were far worse. This changed in my teenage years though. As I started traveling alone, I started to understand the roads better. This developed my self-esteem. Though I took my sweet time to uproot the fear, I did it gradually revealing a more confident me.
The story I shared had huge learning for me as I understood the power of self-reliance. And during the formative years, parents should allow their children to discover their self abilities and to grow as a confident human being. One must note here than allowing the children does not mean giving them a free pass. As a parent, it is important to gently monitor their movement instead of behaving like a strict boss and micro-managing their every activity. Because it can have a great impact on their self-esteem without even realizing it.
When you come across people who resist listening to your advice/ ideas, it is important to assert your points objectively and in a respectful manner. Sometimes when your POV is right in a domineering situation, it is important to stick to your ground.
But it is also crucial to understand everyone’s standpoint. Getting angry and reactive is not justifiable. Rather understanding and accepting the opposite party’s nature and asserting in a friendly tone is the way to go.
In case you feel uncomfortable plying to the demands, you can always smile and reject the offer. For example, if your boss asks for extra work-hours but gets angry for your higher salary demand, it is wise to not lose patience and to assess the situation later. But reacting furiously in the heat of the moment is not the solution either.