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Negotiating with the Rebel in You

Updated on August 21, 2014
A rebellious, clenched fist
A rebellious, clenched fist | Source

By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

“Without Revolutionary theory, there can be no Revolutionary Movement.”

― Vladimir Lenin

The notorious Russian political leader obviously knew when to rebel. His views allowed him dominance over the great Russian nation.

Defiance, however, is not always wise. We always face conundrums when we rebel. The trick is knowing when and how to say "nay".

We feel tempted to rebel nearly all the time. But everything has its time and place.

Being a rebel is not breaking down doors or slamming fists in protests. Rather, it takes a little negotiation.

How do we lay the cards on the table in front of our own inner rebel?

Which of these are good reasons to rebel?

See results

Why Do We Rebel?

Before we defy, we must ascertain what urges us to go against norms. Only then will we know if rebellion is an apt solution.

1. We have feelings of envy.

We start to clench our fists when we cannot stomach that someone does better than ourselves or has better ideas.

It feels good to challenge someone’s simply because we simply do not sit well with them being better than ours. Colleagues who envy us at the workplace challenge us constantly.

2. Someone/systems suppress us.

We also ball our fists if someone, or a system, has suppressed us for too long. Being in the shadows tires us.

Perhaps someone has been too domineering or an organisational system, too oppressive. Our natural instinct is to rebel, in our own way.

3. We meet challenges to our personal beliefs.

Challenges to our personal beliefs also cause the rise of the rebel.

We turn against those who represent whatever goes against our moral standards or self-esteem. If someone with different beliefs or principles leads us at the workplace, it may prompt us to dissent, regardless of how appropriate his decisions are.

4. We have influences.

And then, we have mentors and friends who influence us to go against the flow.

Friends with radical ideas capture our attention. The more charismatic they are, the more able they are to cause us to question our beliefs.

5. We need to break free from conformity.

Occasionally, we need to set ourselves apart from the rest of the crowd and develop our own identity.

Defying norms is the way to tell others who we are. It allows us to break free from routine and be ourselves.

We go against the grain as a way of showing others who we are. We break free from routine and do something different for a change.

The underlying reasons for rebellion point to how wise it is.

Why Teenagers Rebel

Rebelling Reasonably: Managing Your Rebellion

Being a rebel and breaking the mould of conformity is not bad at all, within manageable, reasonable limits.

How do we strike the balance and start negotiating with our inner rebel?

1. Realize that less popular views are not necessarily wrong.

For a start, realize the non-conformist perspectives are not necessarily wrong ones. If your viewpoint improves a situation, be bold and adopt it. Popular views may mislead.

2. Being a rebel does not mean not mean totally conforming.

Rebelling does not mean going against everything. It simply means holding a contrary view when necessary.

Even known non-conformists such as Kurt Cobain fit in with the crowd unless they felt that popular views were questionable.

3. Have courage and take action.

If you know that it is time to defy norms, do so with courage. Having different ideas, yet not doing anything about them does not help to make positive changes.

4. Put your own spin on common norms.

You do not have to break the rules to stand out. Simply do things differently when necessary.

If you wear an uncomfortable uniform, for instance, tuck it out when off duty,

5. Speak your mind.

Speak up if you feel that norms need adjustment. Express your views as feedback, not outright defiance.

If there is a change needed at work, phrase this a palatable suggestion and not question your boss' ability.

6. Do what is best for yourself.

And then, do what is best for yourself. Ignore the negative criticism you may get for going against norms, if you know that to do so is right.

7. Pick your battles.

Go against the grain only if necessary. If doing so has harmful consequences for yourself or others, seek a different course of action.

Rebels unite!
Rebels unite! | Source

Deciding When To Rebel

So how do we decide when to defy norms, conventions and if necessary, authority? Referring to this checklist of questions helps.

1. Is the matter trivial?

Ask yourself if the matter is significant enough to rebel over. Rebelling over petty trivialities is more foolish than helpful.

2. Are the rules reasonable?

If the norms are beneficial and serve a purpose, it does not help to change them simply because you dislike constraints. Think about the benefits of the status quo.

Express feedback about needed changes in a timely, non-threatening way.

3. Does my rebelling affect anyone?

Your dissent may affect those other than yourself. Ask how it may impact others.

Senryu Poem by Michelle Liew
Senryu Poem by Michelle Liew | Source


Being a rebel is not going up in arms against others all the time, but going against norms, within reason.

It is clenching those fists firmly, without slamming too hard and hurting yourself in the process.


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    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I like the way that you did this. A rebel isn't always one that screams their rebellion...

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Dianna!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Rasma!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Chitrangada!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Travmaj!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Devika!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, to thine own self be true, Audrey!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Susan!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Ms Bejabbers. Not wise to rebel without a cause!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Bill!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Your advice is excellent on this topic. I used to be much more of a rebel in my early years but not always for a good cause. I've learned to listen and to react only if it is the right thing to do morally and spiritually.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      6 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Truly well-written and inspirational. I'm ready to take on the world and passing this along.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      6 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent article!

      How you tackled this complicated subject with such ease!

      I generally do not rebel and I have the capability to absorb minor untoward matters. But when it is in the larger interest of people and the matter is really unreasonable, I firmly voice my disagreement.

      Sometimes you don't even need to speak, to show your rebellion attitude. Your silence may be enough.

      Thanks for sharing this thought provoking hub!

    • travmaj profile image


      6 years ago from australia

      Well said Michelle, an interesting and informative piece. I don't think I'd make a good revolutionary - I'm more of a peace maker. In saying that I have my challenging moments most effectively when necessary. Your Senryu poem is a fitting addition to your hub - thank you once again.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I enjoyed reading another interesting and informative hub from you.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      Interesting Michelle--and I just think of it as being true to oneself--food for thought!

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I agree with you 100% and my thinking is go ahead rebel but don't turn it into a blown out war.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      6 years ago from Beautiful South

      Sometimes when the old system is no longer working or is obsolete, by combining your nos. 3-5, you have a legitimate reason to rebel – or at least think you do. I think the sexual rebellion of the 1960s in the United States was a result of the hypocritical views and norms of the 1950s. Men came home from the war and wanted to assert their authority again because they thought they had lost it when the women were in charge. If you look at the 1920s and 1930s, you will find a more liberal, perhaps I should say normal, view of life.

      As an individual, one must be careful about rebellion. Chances are, rebelling because things aren’t going your way is not going to make your life any easier. Pick your battles wisely.

      As usual, Michelle, you have written a fine hub with some good tips. Voted up++ and shared

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What a great title and article. I like the way your mind works in this finely written article. Long live the rebels of the world!!!!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mary. We conform at the right time and moment!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      You make your points very well. I especially enjoyed your Senryu Poem, it said it all in so few words. We all rebel a little every day in our own way but total rebellion can be dangerous when handled by fools.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      When and how should we rebel?


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