A major predecessor of suffering is passive behavior. Many years ago one of my mentors, Elaine Childs Gowell, taught me that we are being passive when we are aware that there is a problem and we:
a. Do nothing and hope the problem goes away.
b. Overadapt and do what other people want us to do.
c. Agitate by doing repetitive behaviors that aren’t directed towards solving the problem, e.g. tapping fingers, swinging legs, playing with hair, mopping the floor at 2:00 a.m., etc. Addictive behaviors may be forms of agitation, e.g. over-working, over-eating, alcohol, drugs, and over-thinking.
d. Incapacitate through headaches, backaches, stomach aches, depression.
e. Escalate by behaviors such as throwing things, screaming and hitting.
Situation: Your 12 year old daughter received two D’s on her report card.
a. Do Nothing: Tell yourself she will do better the next time and just ignore the situation.
b. Overadapt: Decide not to talk to her teachers because your daughter doesn’t want you to.
c. Agitate: Grumble under your breath and clean the house late into the night.
d. Incapacitate: Develop a headache
e. Escalate: Scream at your daughter and then slap her when she sasses you.
Eliminating passivity from your life takes time and effort. First, you have to recognize when you are being passive, or are considering being passive, and then commit to doing something to solve the problem instead.
This week, record each time you realized you were being passive, or had the opportunity to be passive. Then write down what you did to solve the problem.
When you choose to solve the problem instead of being passive, brag about it to yourself and to a friend. Receiving acknowledgement can be very helpful in changing self-sabotaging behaviors.
See you next Monday for the eighth lesson.
To find the lessons in this series that have already been published click here.