Preventing Passivity

passive-sliding

Aggression has a bad reputation, but what happens when you ignore the inevitable?

Most would consider niceness, calmness, and tolerance to be positive qualities, traits that make interactions pleasant for everyone involved. But too much of a good thing can be dangerous, and when grievances are not aired to “keep the peace”, a road to passivity is created.

Personally, a passive personality is even harder to deal with than its opposite — the aggressive personality. Most who regularly practice the art of passivity consider it a good thing, and consider themselves easygoing, nice people. For the most part, their passivity deflects confrontations  and conflicts that others easily fall into. The problem is that angry or sad feelings do not disappear when you choose to ignore or suppress them. They either cause resentment or arise in a later situation. It can also turn into passive-aggressive behavior, where the passive person’s ignored anger shows itself in subtle ways

After awhile, passivity becomes self-creating — suppressed negative feelings cause the passive person to feel more resentment towards whatever or whoever they believe caused them. When this happens, the feelings can be expressed more strongly than they would have been if they were dealt with immediately.

Conflicts caused by passive behavior can be hurtful and confusing for all involved. That said, here are some actionable tips to prevent yourself from slipping down the slide of passivity:

  • Practice speaking up for yourself when you feel you’ve been wronged
  • Express negative feelings constructively, as soon as they arise
  • Once a disagreement has been discussed, try your best to dissolve any resentment that might be leftover
  • Realize when trying to keep the peace is causing you to feel hurt or angry
  • Do not use disagreements of the past as a reason to be angry, or stay angry, with another person
  • Keep disagreements separate — if you dislike the way someone handled themselves in another situation, don’t bring it up in a later disagreement

Finally, remember that anger alone is not bad, it’s the way you deal with it that determines the outcome of a situation, and ignoring your anger is not the best way.

Anyone else with experience with passivity or other tips for stopping passivity in its tracks?

See also:

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7 thoughts on “Preventing Passivity

  1. Thank you for this post and the tips…

    This post describes my character, I’ve been doing this for all my life and I’m just tired of it.I started making minor changes and so far…..I see good results.

    I sometimes feel like “I’m a go along to get along” kind of person. Confrontation and awkwardness makes me extremely uncomfortable and then I tend to suppress my feeling and when I have my back on the wall…..I get too emotional and dangerous……

    I don’t really have healthy relationships because, I can’t handle the maintenance that goes with it. So I tend to shy away from too close friendships…….

  2. mkhululie,

    “This post describes my character, I’ve been doing this for all my life”

    Really? *moves away from you*

    Aha. Just kidding…I think. 🙂

    “I sometimes feel like “I’m a go along to get along” kind of person. Confrontation and awkwardness makes me extremely uncomfortable”

    I think compromise is good, up to a point. But you can’t excessively give in to everyone’s whims and demands, because it will only wear on you. Plus, something I’ve noticed with people who do this is that they only think they’re okay with all this giving in and nicey-niceness…inside their quite resentful. Except no one knows about it and thinks they’re just great. 🙂

    “I don’t really have healthy relationships because, I can’t handle the maintenance that goes with it.”

    You can’t handle the maintenance…meaning you don’t want to make the effort to keep in touch, hang out, etc? Or something else?

  3. This describes by partner exactly and it is very frustrating to handle when arguments do arise. I identified the behaviour to him long ago and he replies with, but I’m British…we all suppress our feelings. He is learning but still needs reminding to speak up right away when things are bothering him.

  4. Half of these is my mother.

    Doesn’t express negative feelings as soon as they arise. Check.
    Clinging to negative feelings after a disagreement has been discussed. Check.
    Not keeping disagreement separate. Check.
    Using disagreements of the past as a reason to be angry with another person. MAJOR CHECK!

    I kid you not. She’s one of the people who’d use something that has happened years ago against you (and I mean on minor things, such as forgetting to do the dishes).

    I love her, you have no idea how much, but she’s so complicated.

    The worst thing? She raised me to be passive. She sees me – she always has – as some sort of obnoxious, aggressive person that needs to be tamed. Even since I was a kid (3-4 years old) she advised me to be passive: to let the other people speak, to not get into arguments with others, to let other people’s opinions and not just my own. I have no idea where she got that I was aggressive or insisting on my own opinions, because I was never like that. So as a result it turned me into a somewhat passive individual: unable to make her opinion heard, reluctant to get in an argument, not being able to stand up for herself.

    I was never passive-aggressive, though. Using old arguments against people and acting insulted and playing the victim was never my thing.

  5. wanderlust,

    “I identified the behaviour to him long ago and he replies with, but I’m British…we all suppress our feelings.”

    Haha, but not necessarily in a passive way.

    I would say passivity does have a lot to do with culture though. Some cultures are more passive than others, even subcultures within a country that is considered by outsiders to have one culture.

  6. Mira,

    “Half of these is my mother…The worst thing? She raised me to be passive.”

    Yes, I think some passive people believe that if everyone were as passive and indirect as they, there would be less problems in the world. So I can imagine if they have a major influence in shaping the personality of someone else they’d encourage them to be passive.

    “She sees me – she always has – as some sort of obnoxious, aggressive person that needs to be tamed.”

    Passive people tend to see people who are not passive as aggressive. They person may or may not be aggressive, but in the passive person’s eyes they definitely are. Well, in comparison to them everyone is aggressive.

    “So as a result it turned me into a somewhat passive individual: unable to make her opinion heard, reluctant to get in an argument, not being able to stand up for herself.”

    I don’t see you as passive, but you’re not aggressive either. Some people are much more one than the other, but you’re a nice balance. 🙂

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