When I started writing again in 2009 and started my business, I was so passive it was ridiculous. I was not comfortable with my own voice or my expertise. I spent a lot of time trying to hone in on it and it was a very frustrating process. I went through periods of jealousy, deep frustration, and aloneness with my ideas.
Overall, I felt like I couldn’t really give my expression, because I wouldn’t be received. Many of us have thoughts like this and they are tied to the universal belief that the world isn’t a safe place. That is a worldview that most people have – the world isn’t safe, so I need to be careful. Careful in my thoughts, careful with every detail of my life. Careful not to offend. Careful, careful, careful. We can become so freaking careful that we just completely drown out our voice and our own expression. I have news for you – the world isn’t going to be any more or less safe dependent on your decision to manifest your expression, so you might as well get comfortable with it.
5 Types of Passivity
Avoiding Taking Responsibility
One of the key things I was doing wrong when I got started was thinking that someone else should show me how to run a business and what to do and how to get there. While there are plenty of people who exist who could show me this system, essentially it was up to ME to seek THEM out, hire them, and employ the tactics. It wasn’t up to them to find me. By requiring someone to “find” me, I was avoiding the responsibility of my own business and success. I was being passive and not active about the life I want.
Listening to Our Own Stories
One of my core beliefs is that we create our own stories out of our experiences and what others have labeled throughout our lives as “normal.” What this looks like is saying “I can’t…” instead of “I don’t want to….” when asked a question or invited somewhere.
If someone calls me and invites me to dinner and I just really don’t want to go, I should say that and tell them why. I shouldn’t say “I can’t go tonight.” Can’t literally means I’m incapacitated and wouldn’t physically be able to go to dinner. Saying “I don’t want to” will make you feel so much more peaceful in your spirit and not with that gut “I just lied” feeling. Try the assertiveness way – see how different you feel.
Not Speaking When We Should
Do you remember the ABC series “What Would You Do” where they placed hidden cameras in a series of situations to see how people actually handled those tense situations? It’s interesting in those series when you watch people. There are always those folks who won’t ever speak up or say anything. That can often be viewed as being passive. No matter how you view it, these are the exact types of situations that lend themselves to helping the passive flex their assertive muscle.
Waiting for Someone Else to Act
This scenario is a classic case of reactive versus proactive. This is the difference in an employee who does things because they need to be done (and without being coached to do it), and the one who waits to be told every step to take. This happens a lot in corporate America and really, everywhere – employers hire people and become frustrated because they have to hold someone’s hand. This passive mindset is tied to the universal belief that says “I don’t want to look foolish.” When we subscribe to this belief, we surrender our assertive nature.
Listen, the big idea here is that we can change our beliefs. Instead of thinking about looking foolish, what if we changed this belief to “I believe foolishness is sometimes necessary for success.” How would that then change the behavior? And what if you could repeat that behavior time and time again? How much more assertive and proactive could you be? Also, how much more respect could you possibly gain?
This element of being passive sort of goes right along with believing our own stories and subscribes to yet another universal belief – that the truth causes pain. Because if we actually are saying we “can’t” go to dinner, we are essentially being dishonest – with ourselves and the other person. This is very very hard to stop doing – I know. But 2 things here. 1) It is a learned behavior and 2) It diminishes your voice.
This is something most of us do and have watched others do and it’s considered “normal.” (And I hate that word). Well, let me tell you, it is learned. And anything learned can be un-learned (for lack of a better term). This is still something I have to work on a LOT. I know how hard it is. However, once you’ve read this, you’ll start catching it and changing it.
This will make you feel so empowered and I guarantee you it will fit you with fresh confidence. Be honest. Be assertive. Not only does this give you permission to be yourself and be respected – it gives others the shot at having that honor as well.
In the beginning of my business, when I was extremely passive, that time in my life came from not feeling valued. I had asked to write and contribute to not one or two, but three publications online and been rejected. I was believing a different story than that which was true – I was allowing their responses to dictate my ability. And here came what I infamously call “the doubting mantras.” This was me believing I was ineffective, nothing I said mattered, and I was of lesser value. I had to let those beliefs go in favor of much better ones.
When I finally unsubscribed from the belief that the world only rewards “smart” people and that what I had to say wasn’t “near as good”, and replaced it with “the world rewards people who say anything at all, as long as they speak their expression”, I was good. I can tell you that I’ve never been more active and assertive in my voice than I’ve been in the past several weeks.
I want to hear from you now. Tell me 2 things: 1) What were all the universal beliefs I named in this post? and 2) how will YOU re-shape those limiting beliefs to work for YOU? Give me specific examples of your own life and areas you know you’re passive in and can or want to improve.
I’ll see you in the comments below.