art work by John Ceprano
CINERGY (tm) - Peacebuilding... one person at a time

Digging in our Heels

The meaning of “digging in our heels” according to one source is stubbornly resisting something or refusing to change, i.e. an opinion. The same source states that the origin is “probably related to the fact that if a person or an animal resists being pulled forward, the body will lean backwards and the heels will dig into the ground as the legs resist the forward motion.”

When we hold conflicting views from another person and we hold steadfastly to our own opinions and views, showing no room for change, this may be considered digging in our heels. It is a dynamic that often leads to both parties becoming stronger about their positions and asserting them with vigour.

What motivates us to dig in our heels? All sorts of things. It may be we feel fully convinced about our perspective and equally as convinced in the wrongness of the other person’s. It may be we resent or are highly offended by the other person’s position. We may be obstinate by nature and/or especially when it comes to the specific issues in dispute. We may feel fearful or threatened, unable to think outside a predictable, secure, and comfortable range of perspectives.

The image of digging in our heels is a vivid one and if it applies to you in a particular dispute you are in, consider this week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions):

  • What is the situation about which you are digging in your heels?
  • What are you doing specifically that may be perceived as digging in your heels?
  • For what reasons are you digging in your heels?
  • What are you digging into?
  • What does it feel like to dig in your heels?
  • How does it help resolve the conflict – to dig in your heels? How does it hinder things?
  • How does digging in your heels help the relationship? How does it hinder it?
  • When you have observed someone else dig in their heels, how may you describe what that looks like?
  • How do you experience others who dig in their heels?
  • What support do you want or need when you dig in your heels so that you do not topple over?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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