Being Reasonable is Overrated

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

— George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Let's think about this...I've considered myself to be a fairly reasonable person most of my life. A few of my core values are fairness, justice and equality. I'm now thinking being reasonable is overrated. Why? Because what I hadn't considered, was WHY I strove to be reasonable. So that others would like me.

Some of the beliefs that I held were; 

  • reasonable people appear sane and in control of their emotions
  • reasonable people will be appreciated more
  • reasonable people are more mature
  • who doesn't want to be the "voice of reason"? The person that can help to bring clarity to a situation
  • reasonable people are less difficult and make it easier on others

Truth be told, that all sounds fairly noble and like it's coming from a good place. But what if it wasn't? What if it was coming from a fearful place? What if the truth also sounded like this:

  • what will people think if I'm upset and out of control?
  • I want people to like me, I don't want to cause trouble or make waves
  • I can be immature...acting reasonable will hide that
  • I want to feel admired and valued
  • I will act how others want me to, so they are happy with me  
  • I must influence the way that people feel about me by acting as expected

What then? Where do I go with those thoughts? What are my new beliefs going to be?

Here's what I know now, my old beliefs served me at the time. They helped me to feel safe because of what I thought "being reasonable" meant. I also know that I was confused. I prided myself on being chameleon-like and having the ability to fit into just about any social situation. I messed up a bunch, in fact, all the time, but at the very least I was kind and reasonable. It became my go-to way of being. It worked with teachers, parents, friends, even my spouse. I mean, who could argue with kindness and reasonableness? There are worse things. 

I also know that those beliefs no longer serve me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not on a mission to be mean, but I am on a mission to be a bit unreasonable. I am on a mission to usher in progress. I want to make a difference and being reasonable is not the pathway to where I'm headed. Being fully me is. 

Here is what I now choose to believe:

  • Reasonable people are not the change-makers
  • It takes a bit of being unreasonable to see something greater than what currently is 
  • Be unreasonable, ask for what is needed, the worst that can happen is the answer will be no

It takes all types, one is not better than the other, just different. We must choose the way we want to be, in any given situation and then really like our "why".

For growth, choose the one that feels the least comfortable for you and then try that on for a while. Let me know how it goes.