Is Being Passive Ruining Your Life?

Is Being Passive Ruining Your Life?

There is peace and stillness to living quietly. I long for the summer breeze swaying the trees. I meditate on the rhythm of the rays of sunshine flowing from the clear sky. I tend toward enjoying the soft tones of life, albeit I have found that it is not the most conducive method of living in all regards. It can be a detriment to posturing myself in a position that is ready for all of life’s challenges.

Just like anything, passivity comes with negative and positive sides. On the upside, passivity can mean that you are a more engaged and better listener. It is a relatively unique skill acquired from one who is more observant.

Passivity is okay when in particular situations. It does not cut it when you are stepped on by any person more assertive or aggressive than you. It feels defeating; it beckons a change.

I want to stand a little bit taller and speak with more confidence. I want to respect myself, and in turn, gain the respect of others. I noticed passivity was ruining my life when I felt myself shrinking smaller each time, I was submissive to my needs, values and thoughts.

I shied away from any confrontation in hopes for that peace and stillness; yet I found myself anxious and fidgety. When it comes down to it; there is no room for utter passivity in my desires for a peaceful and still world.

What does it mean to live assertively and how do I get there? I have asked myself this question a multitude of times. Yet, the answer remains: building my self-esteem to allow my genuine self to shine through. Here are some of the main ways I took back the power from passivity:

1. Literature. I have read books on how to say “no” and use a period at the end of that sentence. I have learned to focus on my business and that the thoughts others have of me is not mine. Indifferently, I have not explained myself to others when it was not necessary, nor have I asked the other person what my answer should be. I’ve simply denoted my inner critic that tries to mute me.

Denoting looked like my adult self taking the wheel and my passive younger self sitting in the passenger’s seat. This visual, along with other meditative ones has allowed me to retrieve power from an assertive stance. Browse your bookshelf or visit your local library. There are bound to be many books (no pun intended) on this very topic: passivity.

2. Challenging myself to take classes on public speaking. There are groups and organizations that push people to meet themselves in a place of confidence. In experiencing discomfort through these obstacles, it brings out the courage you had all along to be able to even speak your name. Afterall, standing up in front of a crowd saying, “Hi, I’m Ariel.” is enough to make my temperature rise and my face to become flushed with a nice rosy-red appearance.

Yet, doing this again, and again, and again would lead to my ability to say this without sparking any of my nerves. Practice – put yourself in experiences where you will have to be assertive. It can start small, like saying no to someone asking for a ride somewhere. All the little attempts at this add up to your goals of self-confidence and assertion.

3. Self-awareness came to me through many hours of counseling. I had to be open and willing to recognize that I do not have all the answers. I needed to hear from others about how I could improve, and only then could I step outside of my comfort zone to face my challenges. I can pay attention to what I am aware of and what I am not.

Look at The Johari Window by Joseph Luft below, as it paints a picture of self-awareness.

Johari Window

4. Accountability partners. Let someone know what you are working on and do your best in accepting their feedback. It can be uneasy to initially hear that you may need to make some changes, but you can ultimately find self-efficacy this way. Keep The Johari Window in mind as a guide for you to recognize where you need those safe, supportive people to help you grow in assertiveness.

5. Action. We all know that the action is hardest, and we wish it was as easy as saying we will do it. Look at what is holding you back from being more assertive. Usually, fear is the culprit of the matter. A friend of mine once called fear a “paper tiger” and it rang true to me. It reminded me that the worst possible scenarios are typically plays in my head that never actually make center-stage.

Anything you learn cannot be useful until you put it into motion. Think of the German fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin. One cannot turn straw into gold by solely staring at or speaking about it. It must be put into action. Regardless of this being a fairy tale, the symbolism still applies.

There is peace and stillness to living assertively. I long for the summer breeze swaying the trees. I meditate on the rhythm of the rays of sunshine flowing from the clear sky. I tend toward enjoying all the tones of life and that I am posturing myself in a position that is ready for all of life’s challenges.

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