Breaking this habit will change your life!
For most of my life, I’ve considered myself a passive person. I really dislike confrontation in any form and usually will bow out of most unpleasant situations by “letting the other person win”. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that this method of communication just isn’t working for me.
When one person allows another to take over completely and be constantly leading them, the power dynamic is thrown off. In most unhealthy relationships, there is a giver and a taker. I can almost guarantee you that the “giver” in this situation, is an extremely passive person. The “taker” will suck the energy out of the “giver” until there’s nothing left. We can all guess what happens after this, the predator is gone, off to acquire a new host. Unfortunately, this unfair exchange usually leaves the victim feeling downtrodden and used. The lack of self-esteem is perpetuated and unless the “giver” changes, this dynamic continues upon meeting another narcissist.
Narcissists tend to seek out people they can manipulate for their own gains. This could be an emotional, financial, or physical gain. These people may be friends, family, or a partner. Have you ever been around a person and felt completely drained afterward? Chances are, the person you are dealing with isn’t caring about your needs and only focusing on theirs. In the spiritual world, we call these people “energy vampires”. It is always good to keep a distance from anyone who makes you feel sucked dry. Creating distance from this person may be a wake-up call and the behavior could change. On the flip side, the person may leave to find a new victim. Whatever the outcome, their response to this tactic will tell you all you need to know.
Often times, the reason why we are passive is not totally clear, but what is evident is our thoughts about being assertive. We wonder to ourselves “what if they leave/dislike me for this statement/saying no?”. Well, I can promise you that anyone who cares about you will embrace this change, and even if they disagree, they will not leave. However, don’t be surprised if they are thrown off by this new you, it is a big change! If they do abandon you, you are probably dealing with a “taker”, and in that case, good riddance. We also question if we are being bossy or rude for taking a stand. When in fact, we are actually paying a disservice to ourselves if we don’t say how we are feeling. I believe that passive people have had a negative view of assertiveness for most of their lives while secretly envying the results that come from being assertive.
I find a lot of passive people are very caring, but you can be very caring and still be assertive. Studies show that assertive people are more successful in their personal and professional lives because they know what they want and they go for it without apology. They also know how to get what they want without being overbearing or manipulative. If we don’t acknowledge our inner needs, we will end up feeling resentment and probably have many missed opportunities due to not vocalizing those needs.
So how to break this cycle and acknowledge your needs? Start small, when you hear a voice telling you something isn’t right or you feel like you are holding back, let it out. In my experience, assertiveness has been a skill I have to practice and each time I use it, I feel more confidence in myself. It is about changing your way of thinking! One thing I have noticed about my fellow “passive people” is that we have a way with words and can tactfully challenge someone when needed, we just need to adjust how we feel about assertiveness. For some, this may mean counseling. For others, it may be a change they make internally due to a traumatic situation where their passiveness was a factor. Please note: If you find yourself becoming aggressive after a bad experience, therapy is never a bad idea. It is not healthy to become a “taker” who was formally a “giver”.
When we speak up for ourselves, we are sending a message to others. We are showing that we are confident, we value ourselves, and we want our voice to be heard. If you are a passive person like myself, speaking up is difficult. However, I can promise you, it gets easier every time. With each interaction, our resolve is strengthed and our confidence heightens.
This is a cycle of healthy communication and one that could totally change your life!