“Passivity is not kindness.”
A notion that I have been meditating on and trying to wrap my head around for a few years now and honestly I don’t feel like I’m much closer to a resolution.
I’m sure many of you, particularly the women reading this, might vibe with where I’m coming from with this. Not because this is gender specific, but because we are more likely to have been told from a young age to put up and shut up; to make our needs small so our male counterparts have the space to flourish.
I decided that from 2020 I would dedicate my life to love. To be rooted in love, to create from love, to understand and work from a place of love as much as I can. But this dedication is not as easy as it seems. It comes with its own pitfalls, difficulties and tests, much like any other devotional path.
The biggest learning curve for me has been conflict. If I am hurt or have an opposing point of view to another, my immediate reaction is to be defensive. This defensive anger dissolves to guilt, guilt gives way to passivity. I accept their behaviour, however hurtful, and swallow down my needs under the guise of ‘being the bigger person’. This betrayal of my own feelings continues to a point where I end up shutting down completely, unable to communicate my needs until I eventually limit contact with the person.
Ultimately, the person I have conflict with and I both lose out. I betray my needs and lose confidence and the person wonders why I am no longer in their life, not aware of any wrongdoing.
This year, I have started practicing new techniques which have started helping me break this pattern, because after all, it is just that – a pattern.
Calm my reactive state. When we are relaxed, we don’t tend to be living at a high frequency where any little thing will provoke us. If we are calm and confident, we tend to operate from a place of truth. Getting to this point takes a lot of hard work. I’m meditating a lot, focussing on relaxation techniques and self love mantras. Working in this way will not only help me relax but will also help improve my confidence as I start to feel calmer and can think more clearly. I can tell that this is working because when I say that I love myself, I feel the love – warmth spreading across my chest. I still feel sadness or anger but am able to catch myself before I go into autopilot.
This work is accompanied by self-reflection. Self-reflection and criticising the self are two very different things, but when you are in a heightened/reactive state it’s super easy to slip into the critical instead of the reflective self. Self-reflection looks like gentle questions with no judgement attached. If I react to a situation negatively I try and think:
How is this making me feel?
Where do I feel this emotion?
Is this triggering a past hurt for me?
Thinking in this way without labelling/passing judgement on your emotions is a practice, but will get you out of the reactive and into the reflective.
Work on communicating without being defensive. This is so difficult for me because arguments and tension are exceptionally triggering for me. My mouth dries up, my heart hammers and I get temporary aphasia. Not fun.
I’ve practised a lot on Alex as we communicate really well. We are very honest with each other and he gives me the space to collect myself after we have a disagreement so I can communicate effectively.
I had a run in with a company over the past couple of days that put my new communication dedication to the test. I was getting dicked around, basically, and the service I received was pretty terrible, so I rang them in a huff and was particularly snippy (read: defensive af) and hung up the phone in tears. After taking a minute to calm down, I decided to call them back. I stayed calm and still expressed my discontent and it went really well. I was so proud of myself for not backing down, for not passively taking the hit and instead outlining my needs.
Listen and give advice when appropriate.With OCD my usual main focus is to control, so when someone is telling me a problem they have I want to provide them a solution. Being able to control the situation outweighs the experience for me in my priorities, meaning I can sometimes miss the point of the friend sharing their problems with me. Sometimes we want a solution, sometimes we want to moan, sometimes we want a hug; the possibilities are endless. Instead of reacting to the situation, I choose to check in with the person and ask what their needs are. This can look like the below:
Would you like me to help you find a solution to that?
Are you looking for advice on this or would you prefer me to listen?
I hear what you’re saying and I love that you feel comfortable sharing this with me. What can I do to help?
Understand that sometimes you need to act in your best interest. Being able to serve the community effectively means you need to be ok, so don’t put up with any shit and say it’s in the name of kindness! That can get you back into the loop of the reactive state and that’s what we ultimately want to avoid. Putting boundaries in place can be difficult for those around you who aren’t used to you standing up for yourself, so be prepared – it might not be plain sailing! Just know that you are doing the best thing for you in the moment, and anyone who really loves you will respect that.
I hope that the above helps and from one soft girl to another, I offer you the highest acknowledgement for the work that you are giving back to the world.
Love you, always.