Many of us get caught up living within the exhausting role of being passive. People who tend to be passive in their communication with others often report feeling tense, sad, vulnerable, resentful, unworthy and dependent. In spite of this reported misery, people behave passively in order to avoid responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, and needs. When someone asks you to do something that you do not want to do, what do you do? Do you do it or make an excuse rather than say no? Once you are aware of your excuses it will be easier to overcome them.
Why is it that saying no is hard for you? Is it because you are afraid you will hurt the other person? Do you feel guilty? Are you afraid the person will talk you out of it? Is it because you want to be liked and you don’t want the person to be angry with you? Do you want to avoid any possible conflict? Are you afraid of being rejected or lonely? Is it just hard for you to say what you feel?
The list of questions could go on and on and so can the excuses. This pattern creates a loss of independence. It also denies our feelings and our needs. When we behave passively, we hold in our anger and hurt. By holding onto our feelings we are likely to develop physical symptoms such as headaches or ulcers. This pattern also can lead to depression.
When people behave passively, they usually do so in order to avoid conflict. The funny thing about this is that it produces conflict. By holding onto your thoughts, feelings and needs you may begin to feel frustrated and angry. You then may begin to do things in a roundabout way in order to get what you want. The people who are subject to this behavior pick up on this frustration and dissatisfaction and they feel pressured by it. This sets the stage for them to resent the passive person.
So ask yourself, what do I get out of being passive? What would I have to give up if I acted more responsibly instead of passively? We can learn to express our thoughts, feelings and wishes. We can do this is such a way that shows respect for ourselves and others. This is not a trait we are born with but rather a social skill which we can learn.
We may find that it is easier to be assertive with certain kinds of people. It gets easier with practice. Learning to express ourselves appropriately and responsibly means that we can choose when and where to do so. So ask yourself now, what would I gain from being more responsible for myself.