Stubbornnes vs Confidence


I like my Bears. They helped me through my depression. I projected myself onto them – gave them names and personalities that in retrospect, were facets of me. In the organizational psychology degree for which I am studying, I learnt that there was a theory behind this seemingly silly playtime with Bears: transitional objects, creativity, play, projection, play therapy…

Bearapy was born long before I could attribute any academic theory to it. Now that I have, I am eager to see if it could help others.

I have to write a thesis for the degree. I have not defined a topic yet but broadly, I would like to research on how, and if, I could structure a workshop for an organization, using the concepts of Bearapy, to build employee engagement, look at employee well-being, mental health, stress, and how that impacts a company’s bottomline in terms of employee productivity as a result. I would use the bears as an inanimate object, for the employees to project themselves and to create that psychological safety with the bears to reflect, deal with stress, and learn more effective ways of working in the team.

Roughly speaking. General idea.

The point is not the idea. My question is: at what point do I stand by my thoughts, my hypotheses, and my beliefs?

Today we had a group coaching session where we discussed my paper and these ideas. It was met with general skepticism. I was told that perhaps the target group should be kids, or that it would not work in organizations, that it’s too new a concept.

My thinking behind Bearapy was that, the technique is not new, but play therapy is hardly done for adults or in corporates. Kids know how to play already. The time is to bring play to adults, to inspire their creative minds, and to find new methods of reflection.

I took on board my group mates’ opinions. They had their perspectives. I invited the feedback and questioning.

I was excited by my own ideas in beginning but as the coaching session went on, I felt deflated. Yet, somewhere inside me I had the instinctual belief that it could work, that I had an idea, and that it would help people.

Where do I strike the balance?

When is it a stubborn opinionated pride that refuses to budge and let go of a concept that might not work, versus a self-confidence that despite rejection would charge forward and conquer the obstacles?

Do they not say that entrepreneurs are so because when no one else believed in them or their ideas, they did not waver and therefore got to where they wanted when people gave up along the way?

I want to move forward. Where is the next step?

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10 Responses

  1. Angela says:

    I think people need the opinion of others, as you had pointed out, for feedback and different perspectives. However, to me, the distinction of confidence vs stubbornness can be made if you are able to answer the majority of objections with solutions. Back in university,I took a course in organizational behaviour and we discussed different decision-making process. In complex situations, it’s difficult to see cause-and-effect relationships. There is no one right answer. So as the decision maker, one needs to start exploring and experimenting, investigating the options, and evaluating them as rationally as possible. When you can honestly examine the proposal from their perspective but still believe in the success of Bearapy with rational counter-feedback, you are definitely not being stubborn. It may then be them who are the stubborn ones.

    • nochnoch says:


      Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, I am seeking the rationality amidst seemingly irrational ideas… Let’s see what I find.

      Nochie 🙂

  2. Zhiv says:

    I had a friend whose firm belief was that ‘grownups don’t play’. I talked her into having a go on the swings in a playground, and she loved it! I think sometimes adults do the things they think they are ‘supposed’ to do, and ‘not playing’ is one of them. I think also, that if your coaching group is studying psychology, they may have the idea that Bearapy isn’t ‘academic’– ie serious, rational, unemotional, and that might have an influence on their critiques. They may think you’re not taking their area of study seriously, but who decides academia has to be serious all the time? Also their critiques may be informed by their own life experiences. Maybe along the way some of them were taught that ‘play is for children’, and so are echoing that past cultural learning.

    Personally, I think if you instinctively feel that Bearapy is a viable idea, you should run with it. There are millions of workers who would love a chance to be able to play with toys at work, especially if it’s sold in terms of a training or group bonding exercise. Make it adult enough to be seen as ‘acceptable’ to stuffy or resistant grownups, and childlike enough that people get fun out of it. Play is something everybody needs, and therapeutic play works just as well with adults as with children. Good luck in your efforts.

  3. I love the creativity of your thinking. It *isn’t* something most of us imagine taking place in a corporate environment, but perhaps that’s why it’s so needed. It doesn’t seem like it could hurt to try it out, and see what the response is. Perhaps having great marketing materials that address each of the anticipated concerns would help people take the leap and engage you to come out. I feel you also have a lot of personal credibility since you come from that more high-powered world, and your personal story may be a huge part of what attracts people to the Bearapy.

    Drumming and poetry are *also* not things one typically thinks of as being well-received in business, and yet drumming retreats/workshops became quite mainstream for a time, and author David Whyte has made a huge difference bringing poetry and soul to all the souls working in the business arena.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Laila

      Thanks for the encouragement, I am working on this project. Like you said, there is nothing to lose to try out – especially under the context of my studies!!!

      I hope I can make something of this!

      Noch Noch

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about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.